HYDE — Homecoming week for high school students is about showing the most pride for your school, and also honoring the students that were voted by their peers to be the best representatives of their class. It’s a chance to see those that graced the halls of the same building years prior return, even for just moments, and relive how much of an honor it was to represent the school.
The Clearfield Bison got to celebrate their homecoming for the 2015 season on Friday night, and the packed stands at the Bison Sports Complex made the night more special.
The highlights of the festivities began before action took place, as the Bison Band were joined on the field by a near 80-member group of alumni to play the alma mater, fight song, and anthem. In addition, the first drum major for the Bison Band, Ray Walker, was in attendance, at the age of 104 to assist in directing the entire band in the alma mater. The crowd gave a standing ovation, as Walker would show that age was nothing but a number.
Halfway through the night, the homecoming court would make their way onto the field, and with the votes tallied, it was Claire MiKesell that the Clearfield faithful would vote the 2015 homecoming queen. She would accept her crown and sash with a smile, and a few tears.
And yet with all those festivities, there was still business to attend to. Head coach Tim Janocko and his Bison football team had a game to play, as they welcomed in the Huntingdon Bearcats for another tough contest.
In the end, all the work from the Bison paid off. Despite stumbling a bit out of the gate, the home squad would get their feet under them, and began an old-school beatdown on the opposition. The Bison would trust their running game to run roughshod on the Bearcats, as all but one of their scores would come thanks to the running game, giving Clearfield the 50-23 victory on the night.
“We played well. We did a lot of good things. I was happy with the way we moved the ball,” Janocko said afterwards. “We knew (Jon) Wagner was all he said he was. We were a little sloppy. Our special teams were sloppy, and two of their scores came thanks to their special teams.
We need to get back to work on that, and I think we got a little tired defensively, so I give credit to them too.”
Special teams hurt the Bison right away on the opening kickoff when Noah Glenny returned the kick 57 yards to give the Bearcats excellent field position for the opening drive. Wagner would get the initial two carries on the night, but a pass interference penalty on third down kept the drive alive for Huntingdon. Three plays later, Ian Border put the first points on the board with a two-yard plunge for a touchdown. Kodiak Heaton booted the extra point, and it was quickly 7-0 in favor of the visitors.
At that point, it was time for the Bison to get to work, and did so thanks to the legs of Seth Caldwell.
The junior running back already was having a spectacular season after just three games, and on this night he would shine the brightest. The first drive was all about the ground game, as of the nine plays, six of them were runs, with five of them going thanks to the legs of No. 3. Caldwell would cap off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run, that combined with Josh Serena’s extra point quickly tied the game.
Clearfield then went back to work on their second drive, following a three-and-out by Huntingdon.
It would be more of the same, but in this instance the biggest play came on a broken play. On 2nd and 15, Cody Spaid looked to pass downfield, but the pocket began to collapse. When he did escape, his 6′ 6″ frame was hard to bring down, as he would rumble 24 yards to give the Bison a 1st and Goal just inside the 10 of Huntingdon. Caldwell got the call on the next two plays, ending with his second touchdown of the night. The extra point made it 14-7 heading into the second quarter.
Caldwell’s night would only get better as his third rushing touchdown of the half came on the next possession, this time from seven yards out. Another extra point made it 21-7 with seven minutes left in the first half. The junior standout would rush for 135 yards in the first half alone, finishing the night with 175 yards on 29 carries, averaging just over seven yards a carry.
Janocko could see his team was ahead, but all wasn’t pleasant in those drives. Missed assignments, unfinished blocks, and other minor issues came about. However, he was quick to point out that despite that, his team kept upbeat, and made up for it.
Our offensive line played real well. When you score 50 points, you can’t be too critical, but we do need to clean some things up,” Janocko said. “We played through some adversity. We made some mistakes, but then we came back. Then we didn’t complete a play, but then came back to make a big play.”
Clearfield’s final score of the first half came thanks to the ground game again, but this time it was Ryan Lezzer earning the points thanks to a jet-sweep that led him to a 12-yard score.
Huntingdon would get on the board a second time in the first half, as they would pounce following a Clearfield turnover. After a run of 25 yards to open the drive, Wagner would score from eight yards out. Andrew Hudy would elect to go for two, and his pass to Logan Fisher was true, to make it 28-15 at the break.
In the second half, it was more of the same from Clearfield. The running game was working, and it was clear they were not going to change.
On the opening drive of the second half, Christian Rumery would get the honors of the touchdown duties, as his 7-yard rumble would increase the lead to a three-score margin. To make up for the two-point conversion from Huntingdon, Spaid would toss his pass to Jacob Wingate, making the score 36-15.
It would not take long afterwards for Clearfield to put the game out of reach. Following a Bearcat punt, it was 1st and 10 from their own 20. That was when Lezzer would shine the most.
He would take another jet-sweep run, but this time found a seam, and wouldn’t stop until he was in the end zone. His 80-yard sprint, plus another Serena point-after, made it 43-15, and all but put away Huntingdon.
Lezzer afterwards said he saw something while reading the defense that made him believe the score was plausible.
“I was seeing the linebacker and safety spread out before that, so I was thinking if they kept doing so the middle of the field would widen out,” Lezzer said after greeting family and friends. “Sure enough on that run when I hit the second level, they left me a big gap, and I went for it. The offensive line did excellent for Caldwell and myself tonight, they won the battle up front.”
Still, Huntingdon would not back down. Two possessions later, after a blocked punt, Wagner would score from 11 yards out. Border added another two-point conversion, making it 43-23.
However, the night’s biggest play didn’t come from the offense, but instead the Clearfield secondary. It did involve a familiar face, as Lezzer would make the big impact.
Huntingdon was facing a 3rd and 12 on their own 44. At the snap, Hudy found the pocket collapsing, and was flushed to the right. Near the sidelines, he let go a pass, hoping to gain the first down. What he got instead was a leaping Lezzer, intercepting the pass at mid-field. Lezzer then turned on the jets, and would rumble right in front of the Bearcat sidelines for the pick-six, icing the game for the Bison.
“When I saw the quarterback look right for the tight end, initially I was looking for the hit. I wanted to break up the catch more than anything,” Lezzer said of the defensive score. “But when I saw him roll out and look right, I thought ‘he’s looking to pass right here, may as well go for it.’ It worked out great for us.”
“Ryan makes some big plays, no doubt,” Janocko echoed of the interception.
Sitting now at 3-1, the midway point of the season arrives next week, and it comes with a very difficult test on the road. The Bison will have to travel to face the undefeated Brockway Rovers, who defeated Otto-Eldred 42-7 on Friday night, and are averaging 50.4 points a game, while only yielding 21 through their first four contests.
“It doesn’t get easy. When you look at our schedule, we led off with Fort Hill, then Central. It’s bang, bang, bang, and we now go face another undefeated team. We’re definitely battle tested,” Janocko said.
The powerhouse contest is slated for a 7:00 kickoff next Friday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Huntingdon 7 8 8 0 – 23
Clearfield 14 14 8 14 – 50
BEARCATS: 2-yard run by Border (Heaton kick), 9:15
BISON: 6-yard run by Caldwell (Serena kick), 6:12
BISON: 3-yard run by Caldwell (Serena kick), 0:16
BISON: 7-yard run by Caldwell (Serena kick), 6:59
BISON: 12-yard run by Lezzer (Serena kick), 3:15
BEARCATS: 8-yard run by Wagner (Hudy pass to Fisher), 0:44
BISON: 7-yard run by Rumery (Spaid pass to Wingate), 8:52
BISON: 80-yard run by Lezzer (Serena kick), 6:25
BEARCATS: 11-yard run by Wagner (Border run), 0:05
BISON: 50-yard interception return by Lezzer (Serena kick), 5:40
First Downs: 10/18
Rush Yards: 193/331
Pass Yards: 14/99
Total Yards: 207/430
Time of Possession: 24:27/23:33
Huntingdon: Wagner-17 carries, 85 yards, 2 TD; Border-15 carries, 100 yards, TD; Hudy-5 carries, (-12) yards; Fisher-3 carries, 15 yards; Glenny-1 carry, 5 yards; Team-1 carry, 0 yards.
Clearfield: Caldwell-29 carries, 175 yards, 3 TD; Lezzer-4 carries, 75 yards, 2 TD; Rumery-3 carries, 58 yards; Shimmel-3 carries, 6 yards; Spaid-1 carry, 24 yards; Team-2 carries, (-2) yards.
Huntingdon: Hudy-3 for 6, 14 yards, INT; Wagner: 0 for 1.
Clearfield: Spaid-5 for 12, 99 yards.
Huntingdon: Wagner-3 catches, 14 yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-3 catches, 76 yards; Heichel-1 catch, 15 yards; Caldwell-1 catch, 8 yards.
|09/04||FORT HILL, MD||14 – 49||0 – 1|
|09/11||PENNS VALLEY||42 – 18||1 – 1|
|09/18||@ Central||19 – 8||2 – 1|
|09/25||HUNTINGDON||50 – 23||3 – 1|
|10/23||BALD EAGLE AREA|