HYDE — The Bison Sports Complex was becoming packed by the minute as fans of the Clearfield Bisons and the visiting Mifflin County Huskies came to see a battle on the gridiron. The two schools both have high-powered offenses, each with great rushing games, and could bring a big play at a moment’s notice.
But following pre-game warmups, Mother Nature decided to showcase her role in the night’s festivities. With just over five minutes before the scheduled kickoff, the skies opened up like Niagara Falls. The areas on the field that were torn up from the player’s cleats began filling up with water. The grass soon became slick, and the dirt became mud. It meant that both teams would have to change to the conditions on the fly.
With fans dripping of rain and players knowing they would be covered in slop at the end of the night, the teams took the field for 48 minutes of football.
At the game’s final whistle, the team celebrating a big, yet soggy, victory was the Clearfield Bisons. Using a methodical offensive attack, along with a defense that held strong and taking advantage of seven Huskies’ turnovers, Clearfield kept their undefeated streak alive with a final score of 20-7.
“I’ve got to give a hats off to our defensive coaches. They came in knowing what needed to be done, created some turnovers, and came up big all game,” head coach Tim Janocko said at the end of the night.
The Bison defense recovered four fumbles on the night, turning three of them into points. At the same time, the secondary came up huge with three interceptions, two from Dylan Graham and another from Curtis Frye. Janocko was praising Graham after the game for each of his interceptions.
“Dylan (Graham) is our unsung hero. We knew he was going to be a special player last year and he’s showing that now,” Janocko said.
The defense held the Huskies offense to only 75 yards of total offense. Entering the night, Mifflin County was averaging nearly 400 yards per game. Clearfield didn’t have many yards itself, ending the night with only 149 yards of total offense. The lead stars on the night were Frye, Beau Swales, Trey Jordan and Ryan Hertlein.
Frye only had 27 yards rushing but scored one touchdown on the ground. He also threw the only passing touchdown of the night to Jordan.
Swales was the leading rusher of either team, ending the night with 64 yards on 16 carries.
The entire first quarter for both teams was about how to handle the field as with every passing second the rain would seem to come down faster and harder. In the first 12 minutes of play both teams turned the ball over twice, with Clearfield losing the ball twice on fumbles while the Huskies lost a fumble and quarterback Shane Whalen threw his first interception of the night to Graham midway through the quarter.
Clearfield opened the second quarter with great field position following a Mifflin County punt, but were unable to turn it into points as they were stopped on fourth down inside the red zone.
The next two possessions would be trades of fumbles, as after a three-and-out by Mifflin County, Clearfield fumbled the ball inside the their opponent’s 10-yard line. Three plays later the Huskies turned it over and gave the Bisons a short field. The first play from scrimmage was incomplete, but the second play was one that everyone was talking about right away. From the shotgun, Frye went back and lobbed the ball to the left side of the end zone. He was aiming for Jordan, who was trying to out-maneuver the Mifflin County secondary.
Jordan leaped for the ball, while at the same time had his feet taken out from under him. Somehow, despite the acrobatic hit, he held onto the wet football for the first touchdown of the game. The extra point was blocked, leaving Clearfield with a 6-0 lead with just over five minutes left in the half.
“It wasn’t easy to throw tonight. I told Trey (Jordan) this week during practice that he may not catch many passes, but when he did, they would be huge. That was certainly one of those catches,” Janocko said.
Both teams exchanged three-and-outs on the next two possessions, but on Mifflin County’s fourth possession of the night, the Bison defense again forced a punt. The punter was at the goal line, but the wet football slipped out of his hands, and he tried to run with it. As he was tackled, the ball came loose, and was scooped up by Garrett Timko. The quick two-yard touchdown, and the successful two-point conversion, gave Clearfield a 14-0 lead heading into halftime.
The rain began to subside after the break, but Clearfield was ready to continue their run from the first half. Unfortunately the first drive ended in a three-and-out, as they handed the ball back to the Mifflin County offense.
However, the Bison defense came up huge once again as just two plays in, the Huskies coughed up the ball once more and the Bisons fell on it. The turnover gave Clearfield a 1st and 10 at the Huskies 39, and at that point it was a major dose of the Bison run game that was called by Janocko and staff. A combination of Ryan Hertlein, Swales and Frye pushed the ball closer to the goal line. After 12 plays, Frye plunged into the end zone for his lone rushing touchdown of the game. Clearfield would miss the ensuing conversion attempt, leaving the score 20-0 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
On the first play from scrimmage on the next drive, again the defense stood tall as Graham got his second interception of the night. Unfortunately for Clearfield, they could do nothing on the ensuing drive, eventually ending when Frye threw an interception to Harry Lowbar.
The drive that followed would be the best drive for the Huskies as running back David Yale would see the ball 14 of the 15 plays, with the only other play being a 33-yard pass to Curtis Jerzerick. Yale would end the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, as he ended the night with 40 yards on the ground. The extra point made it 20-7 with under three minutes left to play.
Clearfield would be stopped on fourth down and forced to punt, giving the Huskies another chance to possibly close within one score. After a first down run, Whalen went for a long ball down the middle of the field.
The ball went over the head of his receivers into the waiting hands of Frye. The game’s final turnover would spell the end of any comeback as Clearfield knelt on the ball for the rest of the game.
Another win on the season has Clearfield sitting at 4-0, and extends their regular-season win streak to 18, dating back to the 2009 season. At the same time, Janocko knew the win was a huge boost to the team.
“It gives our team a lot of confidence for sure. That was a tough defense tonight, but our offensive line dug in hard and moved some big bodies,” Janocko said. “It was a tough game tonight given the conditions, but it is a great win for the program.
View photos of the muddy mess here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/092311game.html
Clearfield begins another two-week road trip next Friday night as they travel to take on Central Mountain.
Mifflin County 0 0 0 7 – 7
Clearfield 0 14 6 0 – 20
SCORE BY QUARTER
BISONS: 20-yard pass from Frye to Jordan (Herrington kick BLOCKED), 5:15
BISONS: 2-yard run from Timko on muffed punt (Frye run), 0:08
BISONS: 2-yard run by Frye (Conversion failed), 2:36
HUSKIES: 5-yard run by Yale (Leight kick), 2:55
First Downs: MC-6 CF-8
Rush Yards: MC-42 CF-129
Pass Yards: MC-33 CF-20
Total Yards: MC-75 CF-149
Penalties: MC-5 CF-6
Penalty Yards: MC-31 CF-25
Interceptions: MC-3 CF-0
Fumbles: MC-4 CF-3
Fumbles Lost: MC-4 CF-3
Time of Possession: MC-21:35 CF-26:25
Mifflin County: Yale-21 carries, 40 yards, TD; Lowber-5 carries, 10 yards; Kahley-3 carries, 8 yards; Whalen-4 carries, (-16) yards
Clearfield: Swales-16 carries, 64 yards; Frye-19 carries, 27 yards, TD; Hertlein-9 carries, 38 yards
Mifflin County: Whalen-1 completion, 7 attempts, 33 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Clearfield: Frye-1 completion, 10 attempts, 20 yards, TD, INT
Mifflin County: Jerzerick-1 reception, 33 yards
Clearfield: Jordan-1 reception, 20 yards, TD