BELLEFONTE — It’s hard to keep a team down when momentum has shifted in their favor. Case in point, the Clearfield Bison football team. Since their week six loss to Philipsburg-Osceola, the team has been winning both through the air, and using the rushing game, giving off a balanced attack.
When the team made their final road trip of the season to take on the 1-7 Bellefonte Red Raiders, it was a question of how they were going to approach the game.
That approach turned out to be very simple…shut down the offense. The Bison defense did exactly that, forcing five turnovers, while the offense seemed to have everything going their way. For the second consecutive year, the Bisons played to a shut out victory, defeating the Red Raiders 44-0 on their Senior Night.
“You know, Bellefonte has some good athletes. They have some solid players, but defensively we were up to the task,” head coach Tim Janocko said after the game. “It feels good to get a shutout, shows how well our defense really is.”
That defense not only shut out Bellefonte from scoring, but held the Red Raider offense to 78 total yards of offense, thanks to some key sacks and tackles for loss.
Offensively, the breakout player on this night was Christian Lezzer. After having a solid outing last week against Juniata, the sophomore wide receiver finished the night with 188 all-purpose yards and accounted for three of Clearfield’s five touchdowns. Senior running back Beau Swales had another steady performance as he accounted for 96 yards on the ground, including two scores.
The main difference between this week and last week’s games, besides the field conditions, were that Clearfield managed to effectively use the passing game.
Having thrown for zero yards last week, Curtis Frye bounced back with a decent night, throwing for 74 yards on three completions including a touchdown.
“Lezzer himself had great back-to-back games, and you can see his talent,” Janocko said. “As for the passing, we did throw the ball effectively when we had to. We had that one drive at the end of the half stall out, but aside from that I was pleased with our ability to throw.”
On the opposite side of the ball, Bellefonte’s passing game was the only highlight for the Red Raider offense, as quarterback Jordan Fye ended the night with 55 yards passing on three completions.
The best drive for Bellefonte came following the opening kickoff. After a good return to their own 35, the Red Raiders rumbled down the field into the red zone. However, Clearfield stopped the drive on fourth down, and took over nearly halfway into the first quarter.
Utilizing both the running ability of Swales and Lezzer, plus a key completion by Frye, the Bisons scored their first touchdown of the game from two-yards out on a Swales plunge. The extra point made it 7-0, which it remained until the second quarter. That was when Clearfield put the game well in it’s hands.
Following a Bellefonte turnover, Clearfield set up on the Red Raider 40, but were only able to gain seven yards of offense. But on a 2nd and 14, Lezzer got the call and found a hole on the left side, and went 33 yards untouched to the end zone. Spencer Herrington’s kick made it 14-0 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.
Clearfield again forced a punt on Bellefonte’s next drive, but swung even more momentum in it’s favor as they were able to block Adam Johnson’s punt, setting up a short field.
Not wanting to waste any time, Frye took the snap and launched the ball over the left side of the field, and it landed square in the hands of Lezzer. In a matter of a minute and a half, Clearfield had a 21-0 advantage.
Bellefonte once again was stopped on fourth down on the ensuing possession, and Clearfield decided to go old-school, using the running ability of Frye, Swales and Lezzer to march down the field. Swales punched the ball in for his second score of the game, making it 28-0 with less than a minute to go in the half.
Coleman Kubala then kicked a low, line-drive kickoff that hit one of the Bellefonte up-backs. The fumble was recovered by the Bisons, and hoping to put the Mercy Rule into effect before halftime, Clearfield went to the air, getting down to the Red Raider 19. Unfortunately, a sack on third down ended the drive, but at that point the game seemed to be well in hand.
“That kickoff isn’t something intentional,” Janocko said while smiling. “Coleman kicks some of those low to the ground and it just sometimes hits one of the opposing players.”
Clearfield got the ball to start the second half, and after two runs by Swales, Lezzer made the play of the night for the team. On first down at the Bellefonte 41, he once again found a seam on the left side. As if lightning had struck twice, he went untouched to the end zone for his third overall touchdown on the night. Herrington’s extra point made it 35-0, and forced officials to run the clock for the remainder of the game.
The defense itself managed to get a score as they forced a safety on Bellefonte’s second possession of the second half. After a sack of Fye, Bellefonte had a 4th and 30 on it’s own 12. The snap to the punter went awry, and was knocked out of the end zone by Bellefonte to save a touchdown. Still, it was two points on the board for Clearfield, and a free kick to follow.
After letting his first-team offense get down the field following the kick, Janocko then took the opportunity to give the junior varsity players a chance to get some game time against the Red Raiders.
It seemed to pay off as Rico Longoria would score a 12-yard touchdown on the drive, which would be the final score of the night.
With one game left in the regular season, it is safe to say that Clearfield has it’s spot locked up in the playoffs. However, Janocko isn’t looking ahead to that time of the year just yet.
“You know, we’re gonna look to take care of Huntingdon next week, then we’ll worry about the District IX title game, and then the playoffs,” Janocko said. “Next week is a new game, and that’s our main focus.”
Clearfield (8-1) will host Huntingdon (3-6) next week on Senior Night, as the Bearcats lost to Philipsburg-Osceola last night by a final of 47-14. Kickoff at the Bison Sports Complex is at 7 p.m.
See photos of the win here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/102811game.html
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 21 9 7 – 44
Bellefonte 0 0 0 0 – 0
BISONS: 2-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 1:36
BISONS: 33-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 9:54
BISONS: 35-yard pass from Frye to Lezzer (Herrington kick, 8:19
BISONS: 2-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 0:48
BISONS: 41-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 10:35
BISONS: Safety on Muffed Punt
BISONS: 12-yard run by Longoria (Herrington kick), 11:47
FIRST DOWNS: CF-16 BF-8
RUSH YARDS: CF-295 BF-23
PASS YARDS: CF-74 BF-55
PENALTIES: CF-4 BF-1
PENALTY YARDS: CF-31 BF-0
TOTAL YARDS: CF-369 BF-78
INTERCEPTIONS: CF-0 BF-0
FUMBLES: CF-0 BF-7
FUMBLES LOST: CF-0 BF-6
TIME OF POSSESSION: CF-26:23 BF-21:37
Clearfield: Swales-17 carries, 96 yards, 2 TD; Lezzer-7 carries, 114 yards, 2 TD; Hertlein-5 carries, 26 yards; Frye-5 carries, 21 yards; Trude-3 carries, 19 yards; Beardsley-3 carries, 11 yards; Longoria-2 carries, 9 yards, TD; Stratton-2 carries, 7 yards; Team-1 carry, (-8) yards.
Bellefonte: Fye-6 carries, 45 yards; Thompson-4 carries, 17 yards; Turner-4 carries, 7 yards; Kaltenbach-3 carries, 0 yards; Team-6 carries, (-54) yards.
Clearfield: Frye-3 completions, 7 attempts, 74 yards, TD
Bellefonte: Fye-7 completions, 15 attempts, 55 yards
Clearfield: Lezzer-3 receptions, 74 yards, TD.
Bellefonte: Hocker-2 receptions, 13 yards; Thompson-2 receptions, 12 yards; Breon-1 reception, 15 yards; Shuey-1 reception, 9 yards; Haslet-1 reception, 6 yards.