HYDE — A battle of unbeaten squads welcomed fans into the Bison Sports Complex on the first official Friday of fall, with many season implications on the line. Clearfield looked to take hold of the Mountain League, while also looking to avenge a pair of losses from a season ago to the also unbeaten Bellefonte Red Raiders.
What was looking as a shootout turned into a beat down very quickly. In what can only be considered a remarkable outing, the Bison struck early, and often, thanks to brilliant play of the offense as they stunned the Red Raiders, 49-21, to remain unblemished.
Afterwards, head coach Tim Janocko couldn’t speak enough not just about one aspect of the game, but his entire team.
“It was good. We made plays. So many guys had big nights. (Taye) Lynch had a big night, (Isaac) Rumery had a big night. Our offensive line played really well. Our defense played really well,” he said. “To hold them down throughout the whole game, especially since they have a good offense, is huge. Hats off to our defense, and our offensive line.”
The opening kickoff set the tone right off the get go as Lynch took the ball around his own 20, then suddenly found a gap on the left side of the field, letting his legs do the work as his eyes looked ahead. Every Bellefonte player missed getting their hands on him, until he was finally taken down at the Red Raider five-yard line, setting up an early 1st and Goal.
It only took two plays as Rumery found Spencer Graham for the opening touchdown to start the scoring. Zach Hess experienced something he’s not seen much of this year, that being a blocked extra point, which kept the score 6-0 just 46 seconds into the game.
Clearfield wasn’t done yet as the defense forced a three-and-out to give its offense another opportunity.
That opportunity took two plays once again, as on a 2nd and 1, Rumery rolled to his right and heaved the ball deep, and in doing so found Lynch for 57 yards and another quick strike for the home squad. Rumery then connected with Graham for the two-point conversion to make the gap a two-possession game. Combined, both scores took only one minute and two seconds, but Janocko saw that those 62 seconds made an enormous difference.
“It’s momentum. Lynch with his kickoff return, Zattoni had a great block on that. Then we make a couple plays, and suddenly it’s 14-0. It takes a lot to come back in those kind of games,” he said.
Bellefonte tried to get some momentum going on its next possession, but after 10 plays the Bison defense forced a turnover on downs. With a short field, Clearfield decided to be methodical, knocking almost four minutes off the clock, and making it into the red zone. Unfortunately, a face mask penalty put the Bison back in yardage, facing 3rd and Goal at the 12 of Bellefonte. Rumery called his own number and looked to be punching it into the end zone for the first rushing touchdown of the night. But, the Red Raider defenders somehow managed to knock out the ball barely before his knee touched down, and recovered it in the end zone.
Twelve plays and no points from it, the Bison defense was angry and ready to pounce. The linebackers did their job as they forced a punt to give the Clearfield offense the ball to start the second quarter.
A fast start to the game led to a fast start in the second quarter as well. Three plays into the ensuing drive following the punt, Rumery connected for a second time with Lynch, a near identical play, with exact identical results. The Hess kick made the score 21-0 with still 11 minutes before the half.
The shut out, sadly, ended on the next possession by the Red Raiders as quarterback Kyle Myers capped off a 12-play drive with a 13-yard pass to Noah Badger for the first Bellefonte score of the night. An extra point from Chris Persiko cut the lead to a two-possession gap, but Clearfield still had momentum well in their grasp.
Rumery capitalized on all the momentum with his fourth touchdown pass in the half, this one to Ryan Lezzer, to again extend the lead.
His night would not end yet, although his arm was about to take a rest. To close out a spectacular first half, he connected a third time to Lynch on the final drive for the Bison in the first half for 38 yards to cap off a five-touchdown performance in the first 24 minutes to help put Clearfield ahead 35-7 heading into the break. Rumery’s stats for the first half, 10 completions on 13 passes, 252 yards, five scores, connecting with four different receivers, with both Rumery and Lezzer averaging double digits per reception.
Janocko looked at each side of the ball in how the first half went, and although Rumery had the statistics, it was the front five that did the main job, and the defense that allowed him all those opportunities.
“Really happy with our offensive line, and our defensive scheme. Our kids played their guts out defensively,” he said. “I mean Bellefonte’s good, and to hold them to seven points in the first half, that’s big.”
When Bellefonte had to punt to start the second half, it was clear the focus on the home sideline was now to shorten the game, and conclude the night. Both of those aspects happened in just one play when Brett Zattoni found a gap in the middle of the Red Raider defense, then broke through a pair of tackles for a 55-yard rumble to the end zone. With Hess booting the extra point, the running clock officially went into effect, something many didn’t expect on this night.
Myers managed to answer back with another passing touchdown to Badger to cut the lead down to 42-14 following the point after, but at that point the game was well in hand, and Clearfield set out to show they aren’t just a one-sided team.
The final drive for the starting offense saw not one pass even attempted. Not one drop back by Rumery, despite taking some snaps in the shotgun.
Fifteen plays over 78 yards were all rushes up the gut, or off-tackle, with no rush going over 11 yards. The drive ran off the final half of the third quarter, before concluding at 9:03 in the fourth when Zattoni punched his way into the end zone for the final Bison score of the night.
Bellefonte answered on its final drive when C.J. Funk hammered into the end zone from two yards out, but Clearfield had everything in hand. With 6:32 remaining in the game, the second team offense came in and again ran down the clock. The underclassmen got some valuable experience as they closed out the game the same way the starting offense did, by hammering the defense and gaining yards.
Although sitting at 6-0, Janocko was not quite ready to call it a signature win on the season, actually chuckling a bit when asked if this was the big game of the season that they needed to win.
“We gotta go to Tyrone next week, so let me enjoy tonight,” he said with a smile and a laugh. “One at a time. We got a winning season. We won a big game, and we got a lot of points there for the playoffs. A lot of big things happened tonight.”
Next week’s game at the Golden Eagles will kick off at 7 p.m. Tyrone is coming off a 35-0 loss to the only other remaining unbeaten in the Mountain League, Bald Eagle Area. A season ago, Clearfield defeated Tyrone, 35-7, at the BSC.
- Clearfield possessed the ball for under 10 minutes in the first half, with all but the lone non-scoring drive lasting less than two minutes each.
- Lynch finished with over 300 all-purpose yards on the night, his best outing of the season.
- Bellefonte averaged nearly 40 points through the first five games. Their seven points in a half was their lowest outing since week two, a 10-0 win over Huntingdon.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bellefonte 0 7 7 7 – 21
Clearfield 14 21 7 7 – 49
BISON: 5-yard pass from Rumery to Graham (Hess kick Blocked), 11:14
BISON: 57-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Rumery pass to Graham), 8:59
BISON: 59-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Hess kick), 11:08
RED RAIDERS: 13-yard pass from Myers to Badger (Persiko kick), 6:07
BISON: 13-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Hess kick), 3:11
BISON: 38-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Hess kick), 0:50
BISON: 55-yard run by Zattoni (Hess kick), 10:15
RED RAIDERS: 4-yard pass from Myers to Badger (Persiko kick), 6:33
BISON: 1-yard run by Zattoni (Hess kick), 9:03
RED RAIDERS: 2-yard run by Funk (Persiko kick), 6:32
First Downs: 11/19
Rush Yards: 138/278
Pass Yards: 62/252
Total Yards: 200/530
Time of Possession: 21:27/26:33
Bellefonte: Funk-19 carries, 102 yards, TD; Myers-10 carries, (-4) yards; Grey-2 carries, 2 yards; Capparelle-1 carry, 49 yards, Team-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Clearfield: Zattoni-15 carries, 110 yards, 2 TD; Freeland-11 carries, 77 yards; Plubell-7 carries, 48 yards; Rumery-6 carries, 28 yards; McGonigal-2 carries, 1 yard; Thomas-1 carry, 4 yards.
Bellefonte: Myers-9 for 14, 62 yards, 2 TD.
Clearfield: Rumery-10 for 13, 252 yards, 5 TD.
Bellefonte: Badger-4 catches, 30 yards, 2 TD; Bauman-3 catches, 18 yards; Catalano-2 catches, 16 yards.
Clearfield: Lynch-4 catches, 163 yards, 3 TD; Graham-3 catches, 27 yards, TD; Lezzer-2 catches, 22 yards, TD; Kline-1 catch, 40 yards.