PHILIPSBURG — Through the first half of the 2021 season, the theme of the Clearfield Bison squad has shown that their strength is not getting the ball down the field via the air, or pounding the ball on the ground in the run game. The strength of this year’s team is the front line on both sides of the ball, whether it’s protecting the quarterback, creating creases for rushing, or creating chaos on defense.
That powerful defense once again was on display when the Bison made the short drive east on Route 322 to face the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties. With the exception of one play, P-O could not find any footing when facing the visiting Bison. At the same time, Clearfield got after it early and often, finishing with a 49-0 shutout victory, their second shutout in as many weeks.
The Bison defense has not allowed a score in 10 consecutive quarters, and has held the opposition to less than 100 total yards in the last two weeks.
“This is a good time of year to be getting sharp and executing, especially with a tough game coming up. Everyone contributed tonight,” Bison head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards.
The contributions began early as the Bison defense forced an opening three-and-out from the Mounties, and then Oliver Billotte and the Clearfield offense quickly went to work. The lead star on the opening drive went to Mark McGonigal, who ran on three of the five plays in the drive, culminating in a 15-yard sprint to the end zone to start the scoring. Although the extra point was blocked, the 6-0 lead felt good for the Bison. So much so, the Bison defense forced another three-and-out and it led to the second consecutive touchdown drive by Clearfield.
McGonigal capitalized again on the creases created by his front line to get a seven-yard score. Billotte connected to Jose Alban for the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 with just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
McGonigal became the workhorse of the Bison, finishing with 156 yards on the ground along with the pair of scores.
No matter what P-O tried to do on offense, Clearfield had an answer. Three consecutive drives ended with punts, a theme that stayed common all through the night. The Bison defense held P-O to just 48 total yards of offense, a season-best for Clearfield.
“We did a great job up front tonight. I cannot ask for much more from those guys,” Janocko said.
Clearfield put up 21 points in the second quarter starting with Alban pounding his way into the end zone shortly after the quarter began. The other two scores came late in the going, but it was not courtesy of the ground attack.
After forcing another Mountie punt, shortly after a circus grab from Nick Johnson who somehow got both hands on the ball despite being blanketed by a Bison defender, the rushing game set up Clearfield in the red zone. Billotte then made a call with his right arm, planting the ball in the hands of Nate Natoli for the first passing touchdown of the game. With 3:05 left in the half, the Bison were firmly in control on offense, and the defense was still making strong stops each chance it got.
No bigger stop came than at 2:30 to go in the half when Will Domico stepped in front of a pass from Ben Gustkey to force the game’s first turnover.
Two plays later, Billotte connected with Alban from 22 yards out for the fifth touchdown for the visiting Bison. An extra point once more made it 35-0 heading into the locker room, and it ensured that the second half would see a running clock for the duration of the game.
Knowing the game was in hand, the Bison coaches slowly worked in the underclassmen into the offense to get some valuable playing time, and giving the starters a chance to rest. Even with the reserves officially in the game, Clearfield was gaining yardage on every drive, with both its third quarter drives leading to long touchdown runs by Brady Collins of 29 and 20 yards. Both extra points were true, and with no scoring in the final quarter, the second half went by quickly to lock in the sixth consecutive win.
With a healthy team and a lot of drive, Clearfield is back home next week with its toughest test of the year, a WPIAL opponent in the Trinity Hillers. The matchup is the first time both teams have faced one another, and Janocko knew the opportunity would be one welcomed by the entire staff and roster.
“They (Trinity) are a Quad-A team that plays a different level of competition. We knew it was going to be tough competition when we scheduled them, but we need the test. I hope it is a great game, and I hope we also beat them at the same time,” he said.
The final non-league game of the regular season will see a 7 p.m. kickoff at the Bison Sports Complex.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 14 21 14 0 – 49
Philipsburg-Osceola 0 0 0 0 – 0
BISON: 15-yard run by McGonigal (Sidorick kick blocked), 7:16
BISON: 7-yard run by McGonigal (Billotte pass to Alban), 1:59
BISON: 4-yard run by Alban (Sidorick kick), 11:20
BISON: 18-yard pass from Billotte to Natoli (Sidorick kick), 3:05
BISON: 22-yard pass from Billotte to Alban (Sidorick kick), 1:05
BISON: 29-yard run by Collins (Sidorick kick), 7:11
BISON: 20-yard run by Collins (Sidorick kick), 4:07
- First Downs: 14/4
- Rush Yards: 331/19
- Pass Yards: 72/29
- Total Yards: 403/48
- Penalties-Yards: 2-8/0-0
- Turnovers: 0/2
- Time of Possession: 25:17/22:43
Clearfield: McGonigal-10 carries, 156 yards, 2 TD; Alban-7 carries, 37 yards, TD; Chamberlain-6 carries, 50 yards; Wilt-6 carries, 5 yards; Collins-5 carries, 56 yards, 2 TD; Billotte-1 carry, 27 yards.
P-O: Hughes-9 carries, 7 yards; Faust-5 carries, (-8) yards; Martin-4 carries, 13 yards; Gustkey-3 carries, 7 yards.
Clearfield: Billotte-7 for 15, 67 yards, 2 TD; Domico-1 for 1, 5 yards.
P-O: Gustkey-3 for 6, 29 yards, 2 INT.
Clearfield: Kline-5 catches, 37 yards; Alban-1 catch, 22 yards, TD; Natoli-1 catch 18 yards, TD; Chamberlain-1 catch, 5 yards.
P-O: Johnson-1 catch, 27 yards; Martin-2 catches, 2 yards.