HUNTINGDON — Jake Lezzer spent a lot of his night giving high-fives to his teammates, especially with how much he has become a focal point of the Clearfield Bison offense. Friday night when the Bison made the trip to Huntingdon to face the Bearcats, the young sophomore stole the show.
Lezzer accounted for over 300 yards of total offense, including a pair of scores, to help push the Bison to a 42-21 triumph to keep their undefeated record intact.
Clearfield looked to Lezzer early on the first drive, as his first reception was a 41-yard catch from the arm of Isaac Rumery to put the Bison in the red zone. Unfortunately the drive stalled out, but Lezzer made up for it on the next drive. Rumery looked to his right and aired the ball high in the air, as Lezzer went up for the grab to pull it down and achieve a 54-yard touchdown to start the scoring. Zach Hess added on the extra point for the early 7-0 lead.
“He (Lezzer) had a big game. Our offensive line gave us the time to throw the ball,” head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards.
Rumery was able to have a strong night in the air, going 13-for-22 to the tune of 289 yards, and a trio of scores.
Clearfield was not immune to being overtaken on defense, as the Bearcats answered back with a touchdown of their own thanks to a 35-yard pass from Nick Troha to Draven Zook. An extra point from Giovan Scaccia knotted the game at seven-all after one quarter.
The Bison began finding their groove again on the ensuing drive that flowed into the second quarter, and Rumery again took to the air to finish things off, this time connecting with Taye Lynch for a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Bison the lead for the second time. The one-score lead was all that Clearfield needed, as the Bearcats faltered on their next possession.
On 2nd and 10, Troha looked to his right but was flushed from the pocket and made an errant throw right into the hands of the Bison defense for the first turnover of the game.
Rumery then used his arm, and his legs, to capitalize on the change of possession, running in from 12 yards out to give the visiting squad a bit of a cushion on the scoreboard. Hess again was true to make the score 21-7 with just under eight minutes remaining in the half.
Huntingdon was not ready to yield just yet, and pushed the Bison defense hard late in the first half to make the game interesting.
With only 1:25 remaining, but with a pair of timeouts to their benefit, the big play that the Bearcats needed finally happened on 2nd and 9 at their own 20. Troha worked his way back in the pocket and had great protection. He then launched a pass over the center that Andrew Miller hauled in and then rumbled for 71 yards to get the ball inside the Bison 10, with under 30 seconds to play.
Just seconds later, the Bearcats cashed in when Troha called his own number for a 6-yard touchdown run. The extra point made the score 21-14 heading into halftime, but the Bearcats were feeling it, especially considering they also were receiving the second half kickoff.
Hess did kick the ball off and Huntingdon did receive it. Unfortunately for Zook, who received the kickoff, he could not keep his hands on the ball, and the Bison special teams capitalized right away as they recovered the ball deep in opposing territory, hoping to capitalize on the field position.
Not only did they, but Clearfield exploited the Bearcat defense in just one play.
Rumery took the snap and began rolling to his left as though it was a running play. He then cut back to his right as if to find space. Instead, he found a way out because he let the ball sail from his arm to a wide open Lezzer, who then hauled in the catch for one of the easiest touchdowns of his young career. An extra point later, the Bison suddenly had all the momentum in the world as they got back their two-score margin, 28-14.
“It was a misdirection we were working on, and it worked. That was just two great athletes making a play. They have a connection,” Janocko said of the trick play.
Midway through the third quarter, Clearfield added an insurance touchdown as Rumery took the snap on the keeper right up the middle and despite the secondary reaching, they could not bring down the tough senior, as he added his second rushing touchdown on the night to go along with his three passing touchdowns.
However, despite the 35-14 advantage, the Bison were not out of the woods yet, as they began to endure a run of three-and-outs that kept Huntingdon in the game, and the Bearcats finally got a chance to close the gap. With just under five minutes remaining, Troha called his own number and powered to a 30-yard touchdown run that helped bring the margin to just two scores.
The attempted onside kick fell the Bison’s way, but once again they could not move the ball and had to give it right back to the home team.
Huntingdon worked into Bison territory, and with just under three minutes remaining, the Bison defense had to make a stand to get back on track.
Who else would make that stand except the man that dominated the night as Lezzer leaped in front of Troha’s attempted pass to Ryder Kocik to intercept the ball, and then proceeded to return it into Bearcat territory.
Two plays later, Brett Zattoni finally broke free for a long run after being bottled up all night. His 36-yard burst right up the center of the Huntingdon defense put the exclamation point on a great night for the Bison offense, as he put the final points on the board from either side, giving Clearfield the victory, 42-21.
“Playing here is always tough. They have a good program. Kids played hard, and it was a good, hard fought game. It was humid out tonight, and that takes its toll on everybody,” Janocko said. “We made some plays, and we’re fortunate enough to get out of here with a win.”
Clearfield now has the benefit of not needing a road trip for a couple of weeks, as they will close out September with a pair of games at the Bison Sports Complex. That is something Janocko and his entire team are glad to encounter.
“It’s going to feel good to get back home next week. It’s homecoming, and it’s going to be a big one. Looking forward to it,” he said.
The homecoming matchup will come against another team whose mascot is a cat. It is the Central Mountain Wildcats. Central Mountain comes in without a victory to their credit, as they were defeated by Bellefonte on Friday, 44-7.
Kickoff in Hyde is at 7 p.m. with Homecoming festivities set for halftime.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 14 14 7 – 42
Huntingdon 7 7 0 7 – 21
BISON: 54-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Hess kick), 6:09
BEARCATS: 35-yard pass from Troha to Zook (Scaccia kick), 2:49
BISON: 25-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Hess kick), 11:49
BISON: 12-yard run by Rumery (Hess kick), 7:58
BEARCATS: 6-yard run by Troha (Scaccia kick), 0:24
BISON: 32-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Hess kick), 11:44
BISON: 33-yard run by Rumery (Hess kick), 5:03
BEARCATS: 30-yard run by Troha (Scaccia kick), 3:49
BISON: 36-yard run by Zattoni (Hess kick), 2:41
First Downs: 10/12
Rushing Yards: 173/79
Passing Yards: 289/225
Total Yards: 462/304
Time of Possession: 24:10/23:50
Clearfield: Rumery-14 carries, 102 yards, 2 TD; Zattoni-11 carries 64 yards, TD; Freeland-7 carries, 7 yards; Team-2 carries, (-2) yards; Lezzer-1 carry, 1 yards.
Huntingdon: Kocik-11 carries, 45 yards; Troha-10 carries, 26 yards, 2 TD; Zook-2 carries, 8 yards; Hudy-2 carries, 3 yards; Team-2 carries, (-8) yards; Wagner-1 carry, 11 yards.
Clearfield: Rumery-13 for 22, 289 yards, 3 TD.
Huntingdon: Troha-16 for 27, 225 yards, TD, 2 INT; Hudy-1 for 2, 5 yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-7 catches, 221 yards, 2 TD; Lynch-5 catches, 50 yards, TD; Graham-1 catch, 18 yards.
Huntingdon: Miller-6 catches, 137 yards; Kocik-4 catches, 31 yards; Wagner-4 catches, 25 yards; Zook-3 catches, 44 yards, TD.