HYDE — A bit of a chill in the air welcomed those coming into the Bison Sports Complex on Friday night. An early-September showdown against the Penns Valley Rams would finish out the early season homestand, but this contest also had an added special feeling as it was homecoming week for Clearfield.
The halftime highlight for the festivities was seeing Olivia Bender be crowned the 2021 Clearfield Homecoming Queen, wearing her crown proudly with a smile stretching from ear to ear. But on the field, what was being rammed was the defense of Penns Valley. It was a true old-school football game for the Bison as the offensive line made the lanes, and the backfield tallied up the yards. The Bison would literally run away with their third consecutive win, routing the Rams, 53-7.
“We wanted to run the ball, and set the tone. Our offensive line was executing, and all our backs ran hard,” Bison head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards.
That was an understatement as the Bison offense would put up nearly 400 yards on the ground, with every score on the night coming from the rushing attack.
The opening drive for Clearfield put the Rams on notice as the nine-play drive only saw one passing play, and that was incomplete. The rest of the drive saw Mark McGonigal and Jose Alban punish the Penns Valley defense all the way down the field. Oliver Billotte would finish the drive on a 4th and 2, pushing his way into the end zone from 17 yards out to open the night’s scoring. Luke Sidorick came out for the extra point, but a bad snap and rough hold messed up the timing. The kick looked good, but banged off the left upright to leave the score at 6-0.
After forcing a punt, Clearfield looked to get things going on the second drive, but the offense was not only stopped quickly, the entire demeanor on the sideline quickly changed.
Billotte’s second pass of the night went to the right, but it fell into the hands of Miles Brooks, who was covering Karson Kline on the sideline. The interception then would go the other direction, a 42-yard sprint that took a lot of energy away from the Clearfield sidelines, as the pick-six suddenly tied the game. Jackson Romig booted the extra point, and as the first quarter wound to a close, it was Penns Valley looking at a 7-6 advantage.
Clearfield coughed up the ball on their first play of the next drive, their second consecutive turnover, but it was the defense that shifted momentum as the Rams failed to convert on fourth down, giving the Bison the ball.
Once Clearfield got the ball back following the turnover on downs, it was then that the focus of the night was simply to ground-and-pound the opposition.
Despite Billotte’s first completion of the night to Alban, the ensuing 10-play drive had a very similar feeling as the Bison bulldozed right down the field, capped off with Billotte’s second touchdown. A missed two-point conversion left the score at 12-7, but it was not long until Clearfield would get another opportunity to punch the ball to pay dirt.
The three-and-out that came from the Rams after kickoff only got worse as the punt would be shanked, going out of bounds at the Ram 31-yard line.
Two plays later, McGonigal powered his way into the end zone for the first time on the night. Billotte’s successful two-point run made it 20-6 with still over half a quarter to go. Billotte would culminate his scoring night on the next Bison drive with his third rushing touchdown, a two-yard pounce, to make it 26-7 heading into the locker room.
Defensively, the Bison once more put on a clinic as the Rams could not find any way to get past the front seven. Clearfield held the Rams to less than 100 total yards on the night, only yielding six first downs. In comparison, the Bison offense put up 25 first downs, compiling 543 total yards for the game.
The rushing clinic continued in the second half as Alban scored his lone touchdown midway through the third quarter, finishing off another 8-play drive. Billotte would complete his biggest pass of the game on the drive, a 58-yard strike to Will Domico to put Clearfield in scoring position. Despite not throwing for a touchdown, the senior quarterback threw for 153 yards.
McGonigal added his second touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter, capping a night where he rushed for 170 yards on 19 carries, an average of just under nine yards a carry.
With Clearfield already up 39-7 following the McGonigal score, the Clearfield coaches got some of the younger kids some game experience, and it was as though all that happened was same song, new singer. The underclassmen showed how strong they can be as Carter Chamberlain scored his first touchdown on the season with 7:19 left in the game, and then Cayden Bell added in an impressive 40-yard sprint to the end zone with just over two minutes remaining, setting the final score.
Even in victory, it seemed Janocko was not entirely happy with how his team performed. He was grateful for the win, but also immediately looked at what needed to be fixed.
“We had a couple turnovers in the first quarter, as well as some communication penalties. Those are things we need to clean up,” he said. “There’s some things we need to get better at. Down the road, even next week when we face Tyrone, if we turn the ball over, we could be down 21-0 real quick.
“There are some things we have to fix, but I give credit to these kids for buckling up and getting this whole-team win.”
Tyrone (1-2) is the first road game of the 2021 season for Clearfield, as they are slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff against the Golden Eagles.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Penns Valley 7 0 0 0 – 7
Clearfield 6 20 6 21 – 53
BISON: 17-yard run by Billotte (Sidorick kick off upright), 7:26
RAMS: 42-yard interception return by Brooks (Romig kick), 4:36
BISON: 5-yard run by Billotte (Conversion failed), 9:31
BISON: 6-yard run by McGonigal (Billotte run), 7:44
BISON: 2-yard run by Billotte (Conversion failed), 3:32
BISON: 1-yard run by Alban (Conversion failed), 6:01
BISON: 2-yard run by McGonigal (Sidorick kick), 11:23
BISON: 1-yard run by Chamberlain (Sidorick kick), 7:19
BISON: 40-yard run by Bell (Sidorick kick), 2:07
- First Downs: 6/25
- Rush Yards: 40/390
- Pass Yards: 39/153
- Total Yards: 79/543
- Penalties-Yards: 2-20/5-25
- Turnovers: 1/2
- Time of Possession: 21:46/26:14
Penns Valley: Brungart-7 carries, 9 yards; Watson-7 carries, 7 yards; Ilgen-7 carries, 4 yards; Greene-3 carries, 4 yards; Romig-1 carry, 16 yards.
Clearfield: McGonigal-19 carries, 170 yards, 2 TD; Alban-13 carries, 55 yards, TD; Billotte-6 carries, 51 yards, 3 TD; Chamberlain-4 carries, 44 yards, TD; Bell-4 carries, 70 yards, TD.
Penns Valley: Brungart-5 for 12, 45 yards, INT; Romig-2 for 8, (-6) yards.
Clearfield: Billotte-9 for 18, 153 yards, INT.
Penns Valley: Brooks-2 catches, 32 yards; Romig-2 catches, 11 yards; Ilgen-1 catch, 3 yards; Kerstetter-1 catch, (-1) yards; Watson-1 catch, (-5) yards.
Clearfield: Kline-3 catches, 51 yards; Paul Cook-2 catches, 23 yards; Alban-2 catches, 22 yards; Domico-1 catch, 58 yards; Freeland-1 catch, 16 yards.