HUNTINGDON — When the Clearfield Bison football team arrived at War Vets Field in Huntingdon, emotions were already running high. Coming off of a 34-0 shutout of Bellefonte, everything they had worked towards this season was on the line.
Only 48 minutes separated the team from going undefeated for the first time in six years, or having to see the home-standing Huntingdon Bearcats celebrate the upset of the season. It all came down to one game, one opportunity, and one team looking to achieve perfection.
The first half of football was a struggle, despite the Bisons’ ability to get into Bearcat territory. But, the second half is where the game was decided. Clearfield came up huge on defense, getting three interceptions and shutting down Huntingdon en route to a hard-earned 12-0 victory.
When the game ended, parents, cheerleaders and coaches celebrated on the field with a banner marking the occasion; while many folks started spraying silly string, covering the players and head coach Tim Janocko.
After all the festivities concluded, Janocko took time to talk about how well his defense played, especially in the second half.
“Our defense played well all night. I can’t say enough about our defense, being able to shut out a team like that, it’s just a huge effort by our kids,” Janocko said.
“These kids are warriors. I know that’s a cliche a little bit, but they are battle tested.”
The defense had reason to be proud as they held Huntingdon to just 199 yards of total offense. The Bearcats top receiver, Jeremy Posey, was held to just one catch.
That can be credited to the Bisons’ senior running back and corner back, Derek Morgan.
“Derek Morgan played an unbelievable game. That’s a college player making plays out there,” Janocko said. “He took the game over. Posey is a heck of a receiver. The kid can jump; he can run, and Morgan was there stride for stride.”
Even Morgan himself felt great with his performance against Huntingdon, but put the emphasis on the bigger picture, focusing on the team itself.
“This is what we’ve been fighting for all spring, all summer and through the winter,” Morgan said.
Morgan was the workhorse of the game as he carried the ball 20 times for 90 yards, including a touchdown. But the majority of those yards came in the second half. Morgan said at halftime the coaches told the team to keep fighting, and they did in part to his play but also that of quarterback Curtis Frye.
A sluggish first half was the name of the game for the junior quarterback as he was only 6 of 13 passing. But, when he needed to get the ball into his receivers’ hands at the critical points, he did. Frye ended the game 10 0f 20 for 139 yards and a touchdown.
After the game, the quarterback knew the game would come down to who wanted it more, and ultimately who would put points on the board first.
“We knew the first one to score would probably come out with the win the way the defenses were playing,” Frye said.
Huntingdon tried for an on-side kick to start the game, but Clearfield pounced on it and started in good field position. Unfortunately, for the next two quarters, that would be the best accomplishment: good field position. The Bisons would drive the ball into Bearcat territory but the defense would hold strong and turned the ball over on downs.
The Bearcats themselves had issues in their passing game as only one pass would be completed the entire first half.
But, the second half is where all the excitement came about. On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, the Bearcats took the ball and ran the reverse to drive into Clearfield territory, but the Bison defense held strong and forced a turnover on downs.
Clearfield finally got momentum in the third quarter in both their running game and passing game as Frye connected on some screen passes and both Morgan and Beau Swales ran the ball to get a lot of good yardage. But, on a second down the Bearcats got pressure on Frye, forcing him out of the pocket. However, he refused to go down and connected on a 38-yard gain to Morgan to get the ball into the red zone.
Not long after, Frye connected with Jack Mellgard for the 15-yard score with a minute and a half remaining in the third quarter. Zach Fannin slipped on the extra point, leaving the score 6-0.
Following that touchdown, Huntingdon began making critical mistakes which proved to be the difference in the game.
Quarterback John O’korn was the quarterback for most of the second half, but on the first play of the fourth quarter his pass to Posey was intercepted by Andrew Redden. Clearfield couldn’t do anything with the ball despite running a lot of time off the clock, forcing a punt.
But, the second drive proved to be just as bad. O’korn again threw an ill-advised pass, this time which was intercepted by Swales and returned into Bearcat territory.
It didn’t take long for Clearfield to cash in on the turnover as it took just five plays for the Bisons to find the end zone, this time thanks to the footwork of Morgan, who scampered in from four yards out. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 12-0 with 3:25 remaining.
Huntingdon had one more opportunity to get into the end zone, and it appeared they would do just that. O’korn got his passing game going on critical downs to push into Bison territory. With under a minute left, the Bearcats were near the red zone and hoped to put a score on the board, at least giving them a chance for an on-side kick.
But, Clearfield would have none of it. On second down, O’korn threw left for Posey, but the ball was tipped and bounced off two Bison defenders before landing in the hands of Frye. After a short return, Frye slid down, and at that moment the realization set in for Clearfield.
Even Frye knew at that moment, the undefeated season was secure.
“Huntingdon played a great game. Their first half was amazing,” Frye said after meeting with his family and friends. “We didn’t play our best first half of football, but we came out excited to play in the third quarter.
“I knew when I had the pick the game I needed to get down, but I knew the game was over at that point.”
With a 10-0 regular season, it’s the first time the Bisons have gone undefeated since 2004. For both Frye and Morgan, it means something special.
“It’s fantastic. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Frye said.
Morgan backed up his quarterback, stating, “It’s an honor to be one of those undefeated teams. ’94, 2000, ’98; it’s unbelievable.”
But, the Bisons are not done yet. Next week is the beginning of the District 9 playoffs, and in Class AAA it will be a familiar opponent for Clearfield. They will be going against the Punxsutawney Chucks, who defeated the Bisons last year in the same game. For Frye and the team, it’s about getting back to work, and showing what they are capable of doing when the pressure is really on.
“I think we need to have a great week of practice. Punxy put it to us last year,” Frye said. “We need to come out and get a win.”
Time and location of the Clearfield-Punxsutawney game will be determined in the week ahead. But for now, the Bisons will savor the feeling of achieving perfection on Friday night.
See photos of the game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/110510game.html
Clearfield 0 0 6 6 12
Huntingdon 0 0 0 0 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
BISONS: 15-yard pass from Frye to Mellgard (Conversion Failed), 1:29
BISONS: 4-yard run by Morgan (Conversion Failed), 3:25
FIRST DOWNS: CF-16 HN-13
RUSH YARDS: CF-103 HN-87
PASS YARDS: CF-139 HN-112
PENALTIES: CF-2 HN-5
PENALTY YARDS: CF-5 HN-30
TOTAL YARDS: CF-242 HN-199
TURNOVERS: CF-2 HN-3
FUMBLES: CF-2 HN-0
FUMBLES LOST: CF-2 HN-0
TIME OF POSSESSION: CF-26:12 HN-21:48
Clearfield: Morgan-20 carries, 90 yards, TD; Swales-6 carries, 11 yards; Frye-9 carries, 2 yards.
Huntingdon: Marter-11 carries, 23 yards; Riley-8 carries, 28 yards; Gutshall-5 carries, 37 yards; O’korn-3 carries, 13 yards.
Clearfield: Frye-10 completions, 20 attempts, 139 yards, TD.
Huntingdon: O’korn-9 completions, 23 attempts, 104 yards, 3 INT; Marter-1 completion, 4 attempts, 6 yards.
Clearfield: Redden-3 catches, 34 yards; Morgan-2 catches, 55 yards; Mellgard-2 catches, 19 yards, TD; Swales-2 catches, 10 yards; Danver-1 catch, 12 yards.
Huntingdon: Marter-4 catches, 55 yards; Gutshall-3 catches, 19 yards; Posey-1 catch, 16 yards; Houck-1 catch, 6 yards; Riley-1 catch, 4 yards.
Undefeated regular season recap:
|09/03||CENTRAL||42 – 14||1 – 0|
|09/10||BALD EAGLE AREA||49 – 14||2 – 0|
|09/17||@ Penns Valley||35 – 7||3 – 0|
|09/24||@ Indian Valley||28 – 7||4 – 0|
|10/01||CENTRAL MOUNTAIN||42 – 14||5 – 0|
|10/08||PHILIPSBURG – OSCEOLA||56 – 25||6 – 0|
|10/15||@ Lewistown||13 – 7||7 – 0|
|10/22||@ Juniata||42 – 14||8 – 0|
|10/29||BELLEFONTE||34 – 0||9 – 0|
|11/05||@ Huntingdon||12 – 0||10 – 0|