MILL HALL — The fall chill came across the Pennsylvania air as the week drew to a close, but it was a different kind of brisk feeling when the Clearfield Bison journeyed to the Central Mountain High School to face off against the Wildcats. The chill that came across was the Bison defense cooling off an early charge by the home squad, then finished things off with a heat wave of their own.
The ground attack for the Bison found its footing on the turf as Clearfield rushed for over 300 yards, over half coming from senior Brett Zattoni, in a 42-20 triumph to remain unblemished at 5-0.
“I thought our offensive line played spectacular tonight, and Zattoni was a beast,” head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “It was a good football game for our kids. A lot of them got playing time and got to handle the ball.”
It wasn’t the start the Bison wanted as the Wildcats were the first to get on the board. The air attack was eating the Bison up early and often on the opening drive as Central Mountain’s Zane Probst completed all three of his passes on the possession, concluding with a 23-yard strike to Connor Soo for the opening score. Trey Gentzel booted the extra point through the uprights, and over the locker rooms, to put the score at 7-0 with just over nine minutes still to play in the first quarter.
For Clearfield, establishing the rushing game early was pivotal, and on their opening drive they answered with eight plays, seven of them being rushes, and it capped off with Oliver Billotte bursting through a seam to score from five yards out. Zach Hess drilled the extra point, and the game was all tied up midway through the opening stanza.
The one mistake no team could afford in the game was a turnover, but the Wildcats found themselves gambling too early on their second drive.
Facing 2nd and 5 just past mid-field, Probst launched a pass down the right sideline for Ryan Pentz. Instead, Karson Kline went up and pulled the ball down for the interception, setting up the Bison with a long field, but time on the clock.
The ensuing drive following the turnover proved to be the biggest one of the night for either side. Beginning at their own 12, Clearfield ate up the clock, and the line of scrimmage. Bit by bit, Clearfield gained enough yardage to move the chains, including a major gamble on 4th and 5 when what was to be a punt turned into a fake with a pass from Billotte to Nick Domico for the first down. Billotte culminated the drive by plunging in from one yard out to conclude the 17-play marathon, and Hess stayed true to give Clearfield the 14-7 advantage with 9:44 remaining in the half.
“We made some good plays on that drive,” Janocko said. “We picked up key first downs, and the offensive line did an incredible job. Plus Billotte made some good decisions.”
Janocko’s sophomore quarterback came into his own on the night, finishing with over 200 all-purpose yards and four total touchdowns.
Central Mountain wasted little time answering back as Probst connected quickly with Peyton Johnson on the right sideline, and he was gone. The 74-yard touchdown strike was the longest play of the night for the Wildcats, and the point-after knotted the game up at 14 with under nine minutes remaining before the half.
That would be as close as the Wildcats would get, because Clearfield then showed they meant business, as the offensive line went to work on the next drive as they protected their quarterback en route to a perfect touchdown pass to Ian Billotte from 34 yards out to put Clearfield back on top, 21-14.
Following a quick three-and-out, the Bison put together another long drive of 12 plays, covering 64 yards, as Oliver Billotte scored his third rushing touchdown, and fourth overall, with just over a minute remaining in the half. Hess added the extra point, and heading into halftime the Bison held the two-possession advantage, and would receive the second half kickoff to get things going in the third.
With the 14-point gap, Janocko and his coaching staff decided to shorten the game, and put it in the hands of their running backs and offensive line.
That was when Zattoni got his chance to shine. After being limited in action one week ago following an injury against Central, the senior running back looked as though nothing was ailing him as he put together runs of 3, 36 and 11 yards, the last being a touchdown run to increase the Bison lead once more. It took a minute and a half, but the score went up to 35-14, and it appeared the Bison were on cruise control.
The final score for Clearfield came on their next drive, another long, time consuming possession that lasted over five minutes and covered 85 yards, with Zattoni getting a healthy dose of ball duty.
Zattoni’s night culminated with a 10-yard push that saw him roll over the final defender across the goal line for his second touchdown, finishing off a night where he carried the ball 21 times for 159 yards, his biggest output of the entire season. Hess stayed perfect on the night, and entering the fourth quarter the score held up at 42-14.
Central Mountain’s final score came with just over four minutes left in the game, but not without controversy.
It appeared that Probst had scored from the Bison 3, but the officials said his knee was down just inside the one yard line before he stretched the ball across the line. He appeared to be upset with the call, to the point where he had words with the official and it cost him 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
It didn’t seem to matter as two plays later he scored from eight yards out. Gentzel’s extra point slammed off the left upright, leaving the score at 42-20, where it remained until the final whistle.
Clearfield (5-0) stays on the road next week as they will travel to face Bellefonte.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 21 14 0 – 42
Central Mountain 7 7 0 6 – 20
WILDCATS: Probst 23-yard pass to Soo (Gentzel kick), 9:10
BISON: O. Billotte 5-yard run (Hess kick), 6:20
BISON: O. Billotte 1-yard run (Hess kick), 9:44
WILDCATS: Probst 74-yard pass to Johnson (Gentzel kick), 8:42
BISON: O. Billotte 34-yard pass to I. Billotte (Hess kick), 7:58
BISON: O. Billotte 2-yard run (Hess kick), 1:18
BISON: Zattoni 11-yard run (Hess kick), 10:24
BISON: Zattoni 10-yard run (Hess kick), 3:02
WILDCATS: Probst 8-yard run (Gentzel kick failed), 4:14
First Downs: 24/9
Rush Yards: 332/42
Pass Yards: 153/221
Total Yards: 485/263
Clearfield: Zattoni-21 carries, 159 yards, 2 TD; O. Billotte-11 carries, 64 yards, 3 TD; McGonigal-8 carries, 31 yards; Plubell-7 carries, 40 yards; Alban-3 carries, 18 yards; Lezzer-2 carries, 14 yards; Firanski-2 carries, 5 yards; Domico-1 carry, 1 yard.
Central Mountain-Pentz-7 carries, 31 yards; Probst-5 carries, 13 yards, TD; Stark-3 carries, 6 yards.
Clearfield: O. Billotte-12 for 17, 153 yards, TD.
Central Mountain: Probst-12 for 18, 204 yards, 2 TD, INT; Johnson-1 for 1, 15 yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-6 catches, 61 yards; Zattoni-2 catches, 26 yards; Domico-2 catches, 21 yards; I. Billotte-1 catch, 34 yards, TD; Firanski-1 catch, 11 yards.
Central Mountain: Johnson-6 catches, 132 yards, TD; Soo-4 catches, 49 yards, TD; Stark-2 catches, 27 yards; Sonnie-1 catch, 13 yards.