HYDE — The night began at the Bison Sports Complex with rain beginning to drizzle onto the turf and the fans, and throughout the night the dampness saw points of near downpour to just chilly. But, the Clearfield Bison football squad decided to heat things up on the night. They would be the host team to start the District 6-9 playoff bracket for Class 4A, as No. 1 seed to the No. 4 seed DuBois Beavers.
The rain hampered the play at times, but the home squad adapted to it by utilizing the power run, as they tallied five scores on the ground, more than enough to achieve a 45-14 victory. The win was the 11th on the season, leaving Clearfield still unbeaten, and also punched their ticket to the District 6-9 Regional Final.
Head coach Tim Janocko was happy with the performance from his team despite the rough conditions on the night.
“I thought our offensive line played really, really well. We ran the ball efficiently and had some big plays. Both running backs played very well. Isaac (Rumery) and his receivers did it again. He threw the ball well, started the game with the big play to Lezzer, and then the defense played great football,” he said.
“I mean that’s a good team. They played a tough schedule, so we’re happy to come out of here with a win.”
That win got off to a massive start with the first big play of the night coming less than a minute into the game. After a short run by Brett Zattoni, Rumery took the snap and looked deep to his right for Jake Lezzer, who he delivered the pass to right to his planned spot, and then saw Lezzer ramp up the speed to the end zone. A 78-yard strike on just the third play of the game gave Clearfield the lead, and Zach Hess booted the P.A.T. to make it 7-0.
The next score would not come till the final minute of the first quarter as DuBois could not find an answer for the touchdown. The Bison defense stopped them on each of their first two drives. But, Clearfield’s offense saw its biggest play of the night, at least to that point, come thanks to improvisation.
Rumery took the shotgun snap and suddenly was flushed left while looking down the field for his receivers. Instead, he was forced to tuck and run, but what he did next was nothing short of stunning, both in a positive way for his team, and negatively for the visiting squad. Rumery ran down the Beavers’ sideline, only to then cut back across the field looking at his blockers and finding seams. At the very end, the Penn State-bound senior made a run that even Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley would be applauding, as he held the ball across the goal line and saw his offensive line embrace him on the 26-yard touchdown run. Hess hammered the point after, and the 14-0 gap was on heading into the second quarter.
“Isaac is just…Isaac. I’ve run out of things to say about him, he’s just a phenomenal football player,” Janocko said of his quarterback.
Rumery accounted for a second rushing touchdown midway through the second quarter, a smaller three-yard scamper to cap off an eight-play drive, which pushed the lead to three possessions.
DuBois got one of those back in a big way immediately on the next drive. On second down, Andrew Boyle got free in the secondary thanks to a blown coverage, and quarterback Eric Schneider connected for 60 yards to put the Beavers on the board. Unfortunately, the point after was wide right, keeping the score 21-6 with just over five minutes remaining before the half.
The next drive seemed to be off to a slow start, that is until Rumery again made a big play, but only thanks to his receiver making an adjustment. A 1st and 10 pass from near mid-field seemed to slip from his right hand as the spiral was more like a wobble. Realizing this, Taye Lynch slowed down and came back to the ball, and despite every possible bad scenario, he hauled in the reception to put the Bison in business close to the red zone.
Lynch ended the night with 68 yards on four receptions, and he did so despite not being on the field as much. After the first play of the game, Lynch came to the sidelines, but didn’t appear injured, and sat on the bench while being talked to by the training staff and the assistant coaches.
It turned out Lynch was battling something that limited his time on the field.
“Taye was under the weather, caught a virus or something like that. I give him a lot of credit for as much as we got out of him. He was battling,” Janocko said.
After Lynch’s reception, the drive stalled at the 10 following a false start, but then the coaching staff decided to do something that has not been done all season. It was Hess that went on the field, looking to add three points with his first career field goal attempt from 27 yards away. The snap, and the hold, were on point, and Hess trusted his left foot. The first attempt all season long added three points to the Bison total, making it 24-6 heading into halftime.
For Clearfield, the second half was all about the ground game, as the rain continued to come down. Rumery finished his night through the air for the most part, as only 19 of his 188 yards passing came in the second half. But, Rumery’s night on the ground was just getting warmed up, and it came on one of the most basic plays in any football playbook.
On 3rd and 1 at his own 34, the call was a simple quarterback sneak right up the center. Rumery got the first down, but was not tackled to the ground, and bounced his way to the right. When he did, his legs took over. A huge 66-yard rushing touchdown got more momentum on the side of the home squad, as they took a 31-6 lead at the midway point of the third quarter.
The Bison defense then did their job, forcing a three-and-out for the Beavers, but a long punt put Clearfield deep in its own territory. It wasn’t Rumery on this occasion that got the call, nor was it Zattoni. Instead, it was Caleb Freeland that took the handoff at the Bison 14, and broke through to the secondary. His legs muscled down the right sideline for the 86-yard touchdown run that all but ended the Beavers’ hopes. Hess again was true for the point after, and the score was 38-6 with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter.
“(Our) Offensive line executing, and you have two backs that can run (the ball). Brett Zattoni, I wouldn’t wanna step in front of him. He punishes you. Caleb Freeland when he gets into the secondary turns on the jets. They complement each other,” Janocko said.
The final Bison score of the night, not surprisingly, came on the ground as well. But, it was Jake Lezzer doing the muscling. He took the jet sweep at the Beavers 19, cut left and at the last second, did his own Superman impersonation as he left his feet, soaring to the goal line and getting the ball across the pylon to give him a rushing touchdown to go with his early receiving touchdown.
Hess nailed the extra point, and the 45-6 gap meant a running clock for the final quarter.
Dubois added in one final score halfway through the fourth quarter on a 20-yard run by Coy Donahue, followed by a two-point conversion pass from Schneider to Liam Wilderoter to set the 45-14 final.
DuBois finished their season at 4-7.
Clearfield (11-0) now waits for the second half of the District 6-9 Subregional bracket to be played between Bellefonte and Bradford, set for a 5 p.m. kickoff on Saturday at Bald Eagle Area High School. The finals will have the date, time, and location announced at the beginning of the week.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Dubois 0 6 0 8 – 14
Clearfield 14 10 21 0 – 45
BISON: 78-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Hess kick), 11:10
BISON: 26-yard run by Rumery (Hess kick), 0:53
BISON: 3-yard run by Rumery (Hess kick), 6:30
BEAVERS: 60-yard pass from Schneider to Boyle (McClusky kick failed), 5:34
BISON: 27-yard Field Goal by Hess, 1:06
BISON: 66-yard run by Rumery (Hess kick), 6:15
BISON: 86-yard run by Freeland (Hess kick), 5:33
BISON: 19-yard run by Lezzer (Hess kick), 0:18
BEAVERS: 20-yard run by Donahue (Schneider pass to Wilderoter), 5:58
First Downs: 11/14
Rush Yards: 148/367
Pass Yards: 122/188
Total Yards: 270/555
Time of Possession: 22:56/25:04
Dubois: Schneider-17 carries, 64 yards; Donahue-5 carries, 30 yards, TD; McCluskey-4 carries, 13 yards; Pendleton-2 carries, 27 yards; Carney-2 carries, 5 yards; Estrada-1 carry, 17 yards; Castro-1 carry, 0 yards; Woodrow-1 carry, (-2) yards; Henery-1 carry, (-6) yards.
Clearfield: Zattoni-13 carries, 99 yards; Freeland-11 carries, 131 yards, TD; Rumery-6 carries, 87 yards, 3 TD; Plubell-5 carries, 24 yards; Lezzer-3 carries, 27 yards, TD; Team-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Dubois: Schneider-9 for 20, 122 yards, TD, INT.
Clearfield: Rumery-9 for 13, 188 yards, TD, INT.
Dubois: Kot-3 catches, 20 yards; Husted-2 catches, 7 yards; McCluskey-2 catches, 2 yards; Boyle-1 catch, 60 yards, TD; Carney-1 catch, 33 yards.
Clearfield: Lynch-4 catches, 68 yards; Graham-3 catches, 35 yards; Lezzer-2 catches, 85 yards, TD.