BELLEFONTE — It did not take long for the Clearfield Bison to show why they are atop the Mountain League standings at the midway point of the season. The Bison, coming off a strong effort against Tyrone, traveled to Rogers Field to face off with the Red Raiders of Bellefonte, a team they had not faced since 2019 as their 2020 contest was ripped away due to the pandemic.
After losing to Bellefonte the previous three match-ups, Clearfield came back and forced early turnovers, and put points on the board following those turnovers, leading to a 48-0 rout to keep their unbeaten 2021 record intact.
“We wanted to get back to some balanced football this week, and I think we performed well,” Bison head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “Our defense got after it early, and we got the ball in the air more than last week. It’s a good win.”
Bellefonte’s opening possession set the tone for the night as the Bison defense swarmed quarterback Nicholas Way on the third play from scrimmage, knocking the ball from his grasp and causing the early turnover. Unfortunately it did not lead to points, but Clearfield made up for it on the next Red Raider play, doing the exact same thing and stripping the ball from Way’s grasp, setting them up at the Bellefonte 16.
Two plays later, Mark McGonigal punched the ball in for the first touchdown of the game, and Luke Sidorick added the extra point for the early 7-0 advantage.
Clearfield’s third possession would also lead to pay dirt, but this time courtesy of the air attack. After getting into Bellefonte territory, Oliver Billotte unleashed his right arm down the left sideline, looking for Karson Kline behind the Red Raider secondary. The ball went right where it needed to, and Kline hauled in a 30-yard score to up the gap near the end of the first quarter. The 14-0 advantage held through the first quarter, and the Bison defense did their job once returning to the field.
The Red Raiders could not get any momentum going as the Bison front line pushed back all night long, holding Bellefonte to just 29 total yards of offense, and forcing four turnovers.
On the opposite side, Clearfield’s offensive line kept Billote protected all night long while also opening up gaps for the backs to break through.
“Our front line got after it tonight and just played so hard. I have to give credit to Shane Coudriet as he’s a senior, you don’t hear too much about him, but he’s playing tough on both sides of the line. He and our entire front five have really gotten better all season,” Janocko said.
Clearfield’s offensive output continued in the second quarter as McGonigal added in a second rushing touchdown with 7:51 to go in the half. But, unlike the first, this one came the hard way as he took the handoff at the Bellefonte 30, and skipped right to find an opening, but had to bounce off a pair of Red Raider defensive backs and bull-rushed his way into the end zone, powering in for six points and invigorating the sideline. Sidorick’s foot made it 21-0, leaving the home squad with many unanswered questions as to how to stop the Bison.
The final minute of the second half is when the game ultimately got put away.
Billotte capped off a strong first half by finding Kline again on the sideline, this time on the right, and Kline rambled past the secondary of Bellefonte to up the score once again. The 28-0 gap held until under 20 seconds in the half, but it wasn’t the offense making noise this time.
A 2nd and 10 for Bellefonte saw Way look to his left and attempt a pass to avoid the sack. Unfortunately for him, Brady Collins was reading his eyes, and stepped in front of the pass, the third turnover of the night for the Red Raiders. Collins then used his eyes to keep his blockers out front and went 42 yards to the end zone for a pick-six, a true dagger to the Red Raider faithful. Sidorick’s extra point bounced off the upright, leaving the 34-0 gap heading into the halftime break, but it was Clearfield that was getting the ball first in the third quarter.
Billotte then capped off his night with another deep ball to the end zone, but this one aimed for Nate Natoli, who hauled in a 57-yard rainbow pass to put the Mercy Rule into effect for the remainder of the game.
Billotte’s night ended with 176 yards passing, going 8 for 13, tossing three touchdowns and not turning the ball over.
With Billotte on the sideline, a lot of the second-team offense came in to get some playing time beginning in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Will Domico then took control of the offense, and in a case of same song, new singer, he would find Kline on a crossing route similar to an earlier touchdown. A 49-yard catch-and-run would be the final score of the night, with Sidorick’s right foot setting the 48-0 final as neither team added a score in the final quarter with the running clock.
Janocko felt good about the win against the Red Raiders, especially with how the last three years have been against Bellefonte.
“It felt good to get this win, especially here. We’ve lost the last two years against Bellefonte, and obviously last year we didn’t play them because of the pandemic,” he said. “So this one feels good. Plus, we get to face them again later this season, too.”
Clearfield (5-0) finishes its three-week road trip next Friday night when they face Philipsburg-Osceola.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 14 20 14 0 – 48
Bellefonte 0 0 0 0 – 0
BISON: 3-yard run by McGonigal (Sidorick kick), 7:16
BISON: 30-yard pass from Billotte to Kline (Sidorick kick), 0:34
BISON: 17-yard run by McGonigal (Sidorick kick), 7:51
BISON: 39-yard pass from Billotte to Kline (Sidorick kick), 0:41
BISON: 42-yard interception return by Collins (Sidorick kick off upright), 0:17
BISON: 52-yard pass from Billotte to Natoli (Sidorick kick), 10:14
BISON: 49-yard pass from Domico to Kline (Sidorick kick), 4:46
- First Downs: 12/6
- Rush Yards: 130/(-12)
- Pass Yards: 225/41
- Total Yards: 355/29
- Penalties-Yards: 3-25/1-5
- Turnovers: 1/4
- Time of Possession: 23:39/24:21
Clearfield: McGonigal-7 carries, 98 yards, 2 TD; Wilt-5 carries, 15 yards; Chamberlain-4 carries, 22 yards; Billotte-4 carries, 19 yards; Collins-3 carries, 9 yards; Domico-3 carries, 3 yards; Natoli-1 carry, 12 yards; Freeland-1 carry, 3 yards, Team-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Bellefonte: Way-16 carries, (-12) yards; Weaver-7 carries, 26 yards; Johnson-6 carries, (-31) yards; Alterio-4 carries, 5 yards.
Clearfield: Billotte-8 for 13, 176 yards, 3 TD; Domico-1 for 2, 49 yards, TD, INT.
Bellefonte: Way-2 for 4, 21 yards, INT; Johnson-3 for 8, 20 yards, INT.
Clearfield: Kline-6 catches, 145 yards, 3 TD; Natoli-2 catches, 71 yards, TD; Freeland-1 catch, 9 yards.
Bellefonte: Capparella-2 catches, 30 yards; Weaver-2 catches, 11 yards.