HYDE — The return to the Bison Sports Complex meant no more traveling for the Clearfield Bison, but it also meant a first-time showdown. Making the long trip from the Pittsburgh area were the Trinity Hillers, part of the WPIAL and a tough 4-A school for competition. By all accounts, the game looked to be a close contest, with many outlets figuring on a tight contest between the schools.
It ended up being a new verse in a familiar song. Clearfield’s defense would on occasion bend as the Hillers drove down the field, however they would not be broken. After two-straight shutouts to their credit, the Bison extended that streak as they proved to the home crowd who the top squad was on this October night. The 30-0 victory not only was the third consecutive shutout by Clearfield, but it also extends the run of scoreless quarters by the defense to 14, dating back to the victory over Tyrone.
“That defense is just playing extremely well, especially against a quality team,” Bison head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “We played well in all facets of the game, with our offense playing well, receivers making some excellent catches. We were running on all cylinders.”
It wasn’t all easy for Clearfield as Trinity got things started early on the opening drive. After starting at their own 20, three straight runs by Andrew Durig suddenly put the ball in Bison territory. But, after failing to get no further than the Bison 29, Trinity had to turn the ball over to Clearfield on downs.
The Bison took their opening possession down the field in a methodical fashion, as a five-minute drive encompassed 12 plays, culminating with Oliver Billotte punishing the goal-line defense of the Hillers with a 1-yard push to the end zone. Luke Sidorick’s right foot made it 7-0, where it remained through the final three minutes of the first quarter.
That opening drive by the Hillers was something that the Bison had not seen in the film leading up to Friday’s game, which meant having to make some changes as the game continued.
“They came out with something different, and our defensive coaches had to make some adjustments. At that point, we were able to handle them really well,” Janocko said.
Those changes worked as the Hillers only managed 176 total yards on the night, with only 60 coming on the ground.
On the opposite side of the field, Clearfield used the second quarter to almost impose its will on the Trinity defense. The first possession of the second quarter for Clearfield included a pair of spectacular catches from Karson Kline, and then culminated with Jose Alban finishing the drive with a 6-yard run to the goal line. Another extra point and it was 14-0 with just over nine minutes until halftime.
Not every drive finished with a score for Clearfield, but Sidorick’s right foot added in more than extra points on the night. The senior kicker managed to boot a 25-yard field goal to push the score to 17-0.
Billotte added in a passing touchdown to his stat line just before halftime in spectacular fashion.
Facing 3rd and 10 from the Hillers 23, he took a shotgun snap and looked over the middle, and threaded a pass between defenders into Nate Natoli, who then shed tacklers, tumbled into the end zone, and got the entire BSC riled up. Even after having the extra point blocked, Clearfield’s 23-0 lead squarely put momentum on their sideline, especially with the Bison receiving the second half kickoff.
“Natoli had a huge game tonight, on both sides of the ball. He made some great catches, defended passes extremely well. He’s been, in a way, an unsung hero on the team, and he showed it,” Janocko said of his senior wideout and corner.
The third quarter for both squads was slow going, with neither really showing strength nor weakness. Trinity made some adjustments to try to keep Clearfield in check, while the home team continued to make it an uphill battle for the Hillers.
It wouldn’t be until the final minute of the third quarter when the Bison put the ball in the end zone again. Already wanting to shorten the game, Clearfield ran the ball more in the second half, and Mark McGonigal benefitted the most from those play calls. The senior back saw a healthy dose of action, finishing off the last Bison drive in the third quarter with a nine-yard juke past the Hiller front line and into the end zone. It was his lone score of the night, but on this night he finally would eclipse the 1000-yard mark for his career, as his totals were low from a year ago due to the Covid-shortened season.
Sidorick added in the extra point to set the final, but not without the Hillers making a final run to stop the scoreless streak of Clearfield.
After forcing a late fumble, Trinity started at their own 14 and thanks to some deep passes from Roberts, suddenly found themselves in Clearfield territory. A 14-play drive suddenly had potential for a payoff, but the Bison held tough on a 3rd and 2 where the Trinity sideline got its second warning of the night, costing them five yards. The ensuing play saw a miscue on the snap, forcing a loss of nine yards and putting Trinity in a situation to pass for the down. Roberts looked to the end zone for Durig on the right side, but the ball would be knocked down, locking in another shutout victory for the Bison.
“They are well coached. But our kids responded, and it is a major team win for us,” Janocko said. “We needed to play four good quarters against a quality opponent, and tonight we did just that.”
Now at 7-0, Clearfield has one final road game for the regular season. That game comes next Friday when they travel to face the winless Bearcats of Huntingdon.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Trinity 0 0 0 0 – 0
Clearfield 7 16 7 0 – 30
BISON: 1-yard run by Billotte (Sidorick kick), 3:39
BISON: 6-yard run by Alban (Sidorick kick), 9:09
BISON: 25-yard field goal by Sidorick, 3:42
BISON: 23-yard pass from Billotte to Natoli (Kick Blocked), 0:45
BISON: 9-yard run by McGonigal (Sidorick kick), 0:58
- First Downs: 11/15
- Rush Yards: 50/185
- Pass Yards: 126/161
- Total Yards: 176/346
- Penalties-Yards: 2-15/4-28
- Turnovers: 0/1
- Time of Possession: 22:03/25:57
Trinity: Durig-14 carries, 62 yards; Roberts-7 carries, No yards; Team-2 carries, (-11) yards; Sikora-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Clearfield: McGonigal-14 carries, 62 yards, TD; Billotte-9 carries, 47 yards, TD; Alban-8 carries, 20 yards, TD; Chamberlain-5 carries, 56 yards; Collins-1 carry, 1 yard; Team-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Trinity: Roberts-11 for 32, 126 yards.
Clearfield: Billotte-10 for 16, 161 yards, TD.
Trinity: Stewart-4 catches, 45 yards; Sikora-3 catches, 33 yards; Durig-2 catches, 21 yards; Cipoletti-2 catches, 17 yards.
Clearfield: Kline-5 catches, 95 yards; Natoli-4 catches, 51 yards, TD; Alban-1 catch, 15 yards.