HAMBURG — The game last week between Clearfield and Philipsburg-Osceola had many people talking, saying it was one of the best games of the season. One team came out with a major victory, while the other suffered a massive defeat.
The one on the losing end was the Clearfield Bisons, who suffered their first regular-season loss in nearly two years. But, that was last week, and the team was prepared to look forward. That also meant looking east, way east. The Bisons had to load up all their equipment, and have the team leave Clearfield in the early afternoon to make the long haul to the Hamburg Area High School to face off against the 1-4 Hamburg Area Hawks.
Such a long drive, but head coach Tim Janocko had said in weeks prior that his players are road warriors, and were ready for the test.
The Hawks were up to the task, giving the Bisons all they could handle for 48 minutes of football. The back-and-forth clash between the two Class-AAA schools provided fans of both institutions many things to cheer about.
But, at the end of the night, it was the Bisons erasing a two-score deficit to defeat the Hawks by a final of 34-28. In doing so, it made the long road trip a memorable one, as the team gave head coach Tim Janocko his 200th career win.
The game was all about two offenses that traded big plays and scores, as the teams see-sawed the lead three times in the first two quarters of play, but the Hawks would show they would not go down without a fight. The home-standing team put the Bisons down two scores before the half, all but taking the air out from the sails of Clearfield.
But the second half of football belonged to the Bisons as Curtis Frye, Beau Swales and Christian Lezzer all scored touchdowns leading to the victory.
Swales had another banner night on the ground, rushing for 205 yards and two touchdowns, putting him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Frye and Lezzer combined for another 129 yards rushing and two more scores.
Frye also had a strong night passing despite the windy conditions, going 4-for-8 with 64 yards and a touchdown.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Hawks had strong statistics from their top players this season. Running back Jacob Wood had 91 yards on the ground, while quarterback Joseph Cominsky ran for another 61 yards including a touchdown. The sophomore also went 11 for 22 passing for 131 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions.
After deferring the coin toss, the Bisons were able to make the Hawks go three plays and force a punt. With the wind blowing in many directions, the punt sailed only 11 yards, and Clearfield took over in Hamburg territory. On their first drive, Clearfield decided to keep the ball in the hands of their star back, as Swales carried the team down the field on seven plays, capping it off with a two-yard dive for the first touchdown of the night. Spencer Herrington nailed the extra point, giving Clearfield the early 7-0 lead.
Hamburg would respond back on the next drive as following a false start, Cominsky threw a dart to Patrick Murphy for a 25-yard gain, setting them up with a 1st and 10 near mid-field. After five running plays, Cominsky was flushed out of the pocket but managed to find his six-foot senior wide out Brenden Forrest for the 16-yard touchdown pass.
Jared Degler’s extra point hit the upright, leaving Clearfield ahead by one, 7-6.
After that score, the Hawks forced Clearfield to punt on their next drive, and at that point momentum seemed to begin turning in the favor of Hamburg. Their second drive chewed up a lot of the clock, as it took 14 plays before Cominsky hooked up with Forrest again for the touchdown, this time from 14-yards out. The extra point was good on this drive, giving Hamburg a 13-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Once again, Clearfield could not do anything on the next possession, and was forced to punt. With the wind still creating havoc, the punt still kept Hamburg in Clearfield territory for their next drive.
That drive would again chew up the clock as after eight plays and 48 yards, Joseph Raffensperger broke free of the Bison defense for a 25-yard rumble to the end zone. Another Degler extra point made the score 20-7 with just 1:31 left in the half.
With only one timeout to work with, things were not looking good for Clearfield, but Janocko and his team were set to try and put points on the board before the break. First and second down netted them minus four yards, setting up a 3rd and 14 on their own 40. On third down Frye somehow escaped the pocket and got the ball to Lezzer for a 25-yard gain, moving the chains and stopping the clock. Frye called his own number on the next play, gaining another six yards before going out of bounds.
Frye went back to the air on 2nd and 4, connecting with Lezzer again for 14 yards. Finally, on 1st and 10 from the Hawks 15, Frye hit the jackpot as he connected with Trey Jordan for the touchdown pass. The two-minute drill and the extra point brought Clearfield to within six heading into the break.
Momentum was now on the side of Clearfield as they got the ball first to start the second half, and right away Lezzer broke free and ran for 32 yards to put the Bisons in Hawk territory. He and Swales would trade carries on the next four plays, bringing the ball just outside the goal line. Frye then broke the huddle and instead of going shotgun, went under center for the snap and did his own pushing into the end zone for his rushing touchdown.
Herrington booted the extra point, and Clearfield was back in the lead 21-20 with just two and a half minutes off the clock in the third quarter.
Hamburg then got a taste of going three-and-out, as the Bison defense held strong and forced the punt. Clearfield then began at their own 24, but found themselves in a tough spot as after having a holding penalty called against them, Frye was sacked and then missed Swales on the next pass play. On 3rd and 30 from the Hamburg 48, it was a designed pass play, but the Hawks got penetration and rushed Frye. Somehow, Frye escaped the pocket, and then rumbled down the field breaking tackles and blowing by defenders. A gain of 28 yards made it a manageable 4th and 2 from the Hawks 20.
Swales got the call as he found his way for the first down, and on the next play scampered the remaining 15 yards for the touchdown. Herrington hit his fourth extra point, putting Clearfield up 28-20 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
Still, Hamburg would not go away and tried to make something happen on the next drive. The Bison defense forced the punt, but things got a little complicated on the play. The Bisons got through the line, with Lezzer nearly blocking the punt. He may have got a bit of the ball, but the ball was live on the field after going across the line of scrimmage, as it somehow touched a Bison player.
The scramble for the ball gave the Hawks possession on the fumble recovery, and a fresh drive in Bison territory. Not wasting much time, Cominsky made a huge play as he broke out of tackles and shoved off defenders to make it to the one-yard line. The next play, he plunged in for the touchdown.
Opting to try and tie the game, Hamburg went for two, and Cominsky connected with Forrest for the conversion, tying the game with 11:12 remaining in the contest.
Clearfield hoped to answer back on the next drive, and went to the ground-and-pound attack to wear out the defense. That plan worked to perfection as Swales, Frye and Lezzer ate up yardage following a good kickoff return by Lezzer. The drive seemed to lose steam midway, as Clearfield was faced with 2nd and 11 on the 26. That’s when Lezzer got the handoff and muscled his way down the field for his rushing touchdown.
Herrington had his extra point blocked, leaving room for Hamburg to take the lead should they get a score.
The Hawks went down the field on the next drive, and found themselves 13 yards away from the tying score yet again. After an incomplete pass and a 3-yard run by Wood, Cominsky was faced with third down, but couldn’t connect with Patrick Murphy. Faced with 4th and 7, Clearfield had to make a stand in order to get the ball back and possibly run the clock.
They did just that as the secondary knocked down Cominsky’s pass, turning the ball over on downs.
Clearfield was not out of the woods yet, as the Hawks had two timeouts remaining to possibly save time in order to make another charge down the field. The defense had trouble stopping Clearfield as they gave up two first downs, but had the Bisons on their toes as with two timeouts remaining, when it was 4th and 3 at the Bison 40. A stop meant the Clearfield defense would try to make one more stand, but a first down would all but end the game.
Swales got the call and he escaped for nine yards, giving a first down. Swales was stopped on the next play for only three yards, and Hamburg called the final timeout, hoping to stop Clearfield on two more plays and pray some time was left on the clock.
Swales made sure that didn’t happen as on 2nd and 7 he broke free for a 35 yard run to the Hamburg 10. Rather than put another score on the board, Frye took the snap and knelt down on the final two plays to close out the game.
The win marked a milestone for a coach with multiple championships, honors and awards for Janocko, and also meant the Bisons put the loss from a week ago in the past, and are moving forward with the 2011 season.
Now sitting at 6-1, the Bisons return home next Friday night for only the third time this season. It is Homecoming for Clearfield as they play host to the Juniata Indians (5-2) at the Bison Sports Complex.
See photos of the game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/101411game.html
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield 7 7 14 6 – 34
Hamburg 6 14 0 8 – 28
BISONS: 2-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 7:25
HAWKS: 16-yard pass from Cominsky to Forrest (Degler kick NO GOOD), 3:05
HAWKS: 14-yard pass from Cominsky to Forrest (Degler kick), 7:28
HAWKS: 20-yard run by Raffensperger (Degler kick), 1:31
BISONS: 15-yard pass from Frye to Jordan (Herrington kick), 0:19
BISONS: 1-yard run by Frye (Herrington kick), 9:42
BISONS: 15-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 1:42
HAWKS: 1-yard run by Cominsky (Pass from Cominsky to Forrest COMPLETE), 11:12
BISONS: 26-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick BLOCKED), 8:19
First Downs: CF-18 HB-14
Rush Yards: CF-326 HB-178
Pass Yards: CF-64 HB-131
Total Yards: CF-390 HB-309
Penalties: CF-7 HB-5
Penalty Yards: CF-50 HB-25
Interceptions: CF-0 HB-0
Fumbles: CF-1 HB-1
Fumbles Lost: CF-0 HB-0
Clearfield: Swales-28 carries, 205 yards, 2 TD; Lezzer-6 carries, 89 yards, TD; Frye-5 carries, 40 yards, TD; Hertlein-1 carry, 0 yards; Team-1 carry, (-8) yards.
Hamburg: Wood-16 carries, 91 yards; Cominsky-6 carries, 61 yards, TD; Raffensperger-1 carry, 20 yards, TD; Murphy-1 carry, 8 yards; Berger-4 carries, 1 yard; Team-2 carries, (-3) yards.
Clearfield: Frye-4 completions, 8 attempts, 64 yards, TD.
Hamburg: Cominsky-11 completions, 12 attempts, 131 yards, 2 TD.
Clearfield: Lezzer-2 receptions, 39 yards; Jordan-1 reception, 15 yards, TD; Myers-1 reception, 10 yards.
Hamburg: Forrest-4 receptions, 46 yards, 2 TD; Murphy-3 receptions, 35 yards; Barter-1 reception, 25 yards; Wood-2 receptions, 21 yards; Berger-1 reception, 4 yards.