SPRING MILLS — The old saying goes, “If you fall off a horse, get right back on.” That slogan can be used on the gridiron just as much as in horseback riding. The Clearfield Bison needed to focus on that creed as the month of September began, and the second week of football approached. Coming off a tough loss in West Virginia last week, head coach Tim Janocko and his staff didn’t want to sulk on the loss they received. Instead, it was looking ahead, and getting right back to work.
With the weather feeling more like early-July instead of the first week of September, the Bison would get back on their horse, or in this instance their bus, and travel to Spring Mills to face the Penns Valley Rams for their second game of the season. Not one player was thinking about a week ago, as all looked to the grass field at the Penns Valley High School and were ready to do battle.
In the end, the past was left there as the present day was excellent for the visitors. In a stark difference from a week prior, the Bison would shut down the Rams offense while creating strong opportunities on their offense to bring their record to .500 in a 31-0 shutout victory.
“We bounced back and worked hard. This is a good Penns Valley team. They have some good athletes,” Janocko said afterwards. “We cleaned it up quite a bit and improved from week one to week two.”
Cleaned up was putting it mildly as Clearfield went from allowing over 300 yards just in rushing alone a week ago to allowing Penns Valley just 115 yards in total, with just 43 on the ground. Janocko has said that his team is young, with just 11 seniors on the squad, but there was no shortage of talent, especially on defense. He was quick to point out the coaches had a strong game plan, and some of his younger talent made big gains in just one week’s time.
“It’s huge. Our coaches had a good game plan. Two kids that really stepped up big: Christian Rumery and Jake Lansberry. That was Rumery’s first start, and I’m really happy for those guys,” Janocko said.
It all began on their opening series after Penns Valley deferred to the second half. Seth Caldwell and Eric Sellers were picking up bits of yardage on the ground, but the Rams defense was able to hold them to a tough 4th and 13 call at the Rams 33. It was too far for Herrington to attempt a field goal, especially with the sun still setting and staring the Bison square in the eyes. At the same time, it was too short of a field to punt, so all that was left was option C, and that was to go for it.
The call would be the breakout play for quarterback Cody Spaid, who looked over the middle of the field to find Sellers in the secondary, and No. 19’s legs did the rest. After 33 yards, it was the first points on the board. An extra point and just barely three minutes into the game it was already 7-0. Spaid continued his strong night by going 7-of-14 for 112 yards, and no turnovers.
“Great ball by Cody Spaid. He’s another kid where it’s going to take time. We’re a young team; we’ve got sophomores all over the place. And Spaid, that’s his second start, and he played very well,” Janocko said.
That would be the lone score of the first quarter, as the teams traded punts or turnovers on downs over the next three possessions. It wasn’t until the Bison had the ball for their third series where they would show off how they could eat away both yards and time on the clock.
The combination of both the spread offense and the traditional under-center looks kept Penns Valley guessing for the next 12 plays, as sometimes it was Spaid calling signals, while other times Sellers would get the snap and do the running duties. It would all lead to the second score of the night, this one from Sellers on a 3-yard scamper into the end zone. Herrington’s extra point made it 14-0 with lots of time still before halftime.
Once more when Penns Valley got the ball, they struggled early, but a big pass completion from Ben Alexander to Luke Bitsko breathed new life into the Rams as they made it into opposing territory. But, Clearfield dug their cleats in and held strong, forcing a turnover on downs.
The ensuing possession would see Clearfield again march down the field, but they stalled out at the Rams 24. Into the game came Herrington to try for the 31-yard field goal. The hold by Sellers was excellent, and the kick split the uprights, making it a 17-0 game at the break.
For a majority of the third quarter, both teams went back-and-forth in struggling to gain yardage, but both would take time off the clock, and neither truly gave an inch. This was expected according to Janocko, who acknowledged the Rams were well prepared for his team on both sides of the ball, especially when the Bison were on defense. But still, when it came time for the Bison to make a play, they were right there to do so.
“Their quarterback (Alexander) is very athletic, and they have their fullback,” Janocko said. “We got pressure on them and disrupted that.”
Caldwell seemed to enjoy the third quarter as he kept begging for the ball, hoping his offense would make more holes in the line to break a big run. Had it not been for a holding call on an apparent touchdown run, the Bison would have been up by a bigger margin earlier in the second half. However, Caldwell’s patience was eventually rewarded as on a 1st and 10 from the Rams 13, Caldwell finally got the seam he hoped for, and this time no laundry was on the field to call it back. The touchdown run, combined with Herrington’s extra point, made it 24-0 heading into the final quarter of play.
“We’re hoping he keeps getting better. It seemed like the more he got the ball the better he got, and that’s a good sign,” Janocko said.”We got better running in the second half. Both Caldwell and Eric Sellers ran the ball real well.”
It was more of the same in the final quarter of play as the Bison defense made the Rams go three-and-out on successive possessions, but on the second was the true dagger for Penns Valley. On the punt, the snap went short of the punter, and then bounced behind, causing a mad scramble for the ball. Penns Valley pounced on the ball, but it was a moot effort as it was a turnover on downs, and counted as a team loss, which in turn set up Clearfield with just 18 yards to gain in order to score.
That score would come three plays later as Caldwell again pounded his way up the middle for his second touchdown of the half. One more extra point, and the 31-0 score would hold until the final whistle.
“When you get a short field, you have to capitalize,” Janocko said.
Now sitting at 1-1, the Bison were so excited to be back on the winning track, it seemed like they didn’t want to get off the field because of the energy they had from their first win of the season. Maybe it was the fact that in a week, they will step foot back on the field. But from the look on Janocko’s face when addressing his team, the excitement was because of where they were going to play. It was time for the Bison to defend their house, or “Our House” as Janocko was telling his team. Next week, for the first time this season, and for the first time since November 8 of last year, Clearfield will be back at the Bison Sports Complex, a place they have not lost at since the new turf field was added in 2012.
For Janocko, it was a sigh of relief to know that his team and his coaches will be at home.
“It does (feel good to come home). Feels like we’ve been on the road forever,” Janocko said.
Clearfield will host the Central Dragons (1-1) who are coming off a 20-13 loss to Tyrone. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield 7 10 7 7 – 31
Penns Valley 0 0 0 0 – 0
BISON: 33-yard pass from Spaid to Sellers (Herrington kick), 8:51
BISON: 3-yard run by Sellers (Herrington kick), 8:50
BISON: 31-yard Field Goal by Herrington, 3:30
BISON: 4-yard run by Caldwell (Herrington kick), 0:25
BISON: 4-yard run by Caldwell (Herington kick), 6:09
First Downs: 15/6
Rush Yds: 220/43
Pass Yds: 122/72
Total Yards: 342/115
Time of Possession: 25:58/22:02
Clearfield: Caldwell-24 carries, 96 yards, 2 TD; Sellers-15 carries, 98 yards, TD; Shimmel-4 carries, 27 yards; Norris-1 carry, 7 yards; Spaid-1 carry, (-8) yards.
Penns Valley: Sharp-13 carries, 33 yards; Alexander-11 carries, 7 yards; Collison-2 carries, 10 yards; Bitsko-1 carry, 2 yards; Team-1 carry, (-9) yards.
Clearfield: Spaid-7 for 14, 122 yards, TD
Penns Valley: Alexander-4 for 12, 72 yards
Clearfield: Sellers-2 catches, 42 yards, TD; Lezzer-2 catches, 45 yards; Kovalick-2 catches, 27 yards; Sorbera-1 catch, 8 yards.
Penns Valley-Bitsko-2 catches, 55 yards; Sharp-2 catches, 17 yards.