SIDMAN — Coming off of such an emotional win one week earlier, the Clearfield Bison felt charged up and empowered. The team took that power, loaded up the bus, and made a journey south to Sidman for a cross-sectional matchup in the Laurel Highlands against the host Forest Hill Rangers.
The game ultimately could be summarized by miscues and missed chances. Both cost the Bison in a 22-13 loss that was not as close as the score would indicate.
Clearfield head coach Myles Caragein was clearly dejected afterwards, stating, “It came down to just the little things. One play, a different call, those would change everything. These kids, though, never stopped fighting.
“Losing sucks, and I don’t blame them for how they’re feeling right now. We just have to get back to work.”
The Rangers broke things open just over a minute into the game when Mason Papinchak found a hole on the left side of the line on just the third play from scrimmage, rumbling 65 yards for the opening score. The extra point was about to be set, until an offside call against Clearfield moved the ball closer to the goal line. Forest Hills then decided to go for two, and Brady Mayes punched it in to make it 8-0, a score that lasted through the entire first quarter.
Penalties at untimely moments defined Clearfield on this night, on both sides of the ball. In total, the Bison saw nine calls get accepted against them, from holding to offsides, to some that kept drives going.
The Rangers put another score on the board midway into the second, as quarterback Nate Cornell connected to Ben Harteis for a 10-yard strike. The extra point made it 15-0, but the ensuing drive appeared to be going the way of Clearfield after a quick strike from Will Domico to Cayden Bell to move the ball into Ranger territory. On a 3rd and 9 play, Domico rolled to his right to escape the pressure, and in all the calamity, he tossed a perfect ball to a wide-open Isaac Putt in the end zone for the first Bison score of the night…or so many thought.
Officials called Clearfield on an illegal block in the back, erasing the score and forcing a long third down situation, one they could not convert. Heading into halftime, the two-possession gap remained, similar to what it was last week for the Bison.
“We could’ve went into halftime and packed it in, but we simply kept fighting. We knew we had a terrible start, but the guys never gave up and kept going,” Caragein said.
Clearfield struggled on the opening drive of the second half, forced to punt again after a costly intentional grounding call. Forest Hills took advantage as they put up a 14-play drive to make it a three-possession game as Papinchak added another rushing touchdown, this one from 13 yards out. The 22-0 gap remained through the third quarter.
Finally, the Bison got things going as the passing game that was nonexistent in the first half came to life in the final 12 minutes. Domico would go 5-for-6 during the opening drive in the fourth quarter, then used his legs to punch in the first Bison score of the night. Warren Diethrick connected on the extra point to make it 22-7 with over eight minutes remaining.
Domico finished the night with a solid outing passing the ball, going 16-for-27 for 178 yards. He managed to overcome an early interception in the second half to lead Clearfield on another scoring drive late in the game, capping it off with a 12-yard strike to Colton Ryan. The point after sailed wide right, which all but iced the game. The Bison did make a solid attempt on the ensuing onside kick, as it bounced off the Ranger defender, and the battle for the live ball was on. Clearfield almost had it on a few occasions, but the ball would roll out of bounds and gave possession to the Rangers to close the night.
Caragein knew the road contest would be a tough one, but also acknowledged that the loss provided a lot of learning for everyone on the team.
“This was our first road game of the year, and yes, losing sucks, but we can build off it,” he said. “We have to clean up the details, including myself. I made some bad play calls, and that’s on me as a coach. I have to do better so that we can execute better.”
“We have a lot of learning to do. We are going to have a big film session one day here this week. I mean, I’m upset, the kids are upset, but this is something we can build from so that it doesn’t happen again.”
He also went on to put the loss immediately behind them, and get to work next week when Clearfield (1-1) is back at home. With being in a new league, even with familiar opponents, no game was going to be any easier.
“You look at this league, and every opponent is tough. You cannot take any opponent lightly,” Caragein said. “Next week we have Philipsburg (1-1), and they have an offense that makes us focus on the details. If you don’t do that, it could mean the same as it did tonight.”
The battle of the long-standing rivals will happen at the Bison Sports Complex next Friday, with kickoff at 7 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 0 0 0 13 – 13
Forest Hills 8 7 7 0 – 22
- RANGERS: Papinchak 65-yard run (Mayes run for 2-pt conversion), 10:56
- RANGERS: Cornell pass to Harteis for 10 yards (Carpenter kick), 6:17
- RANGERS: Papinchak 13-yard run (Carpenter kick), 4:46
- BISON: Domico 1-yard run (Diethrick kick), 8:10
- BISON: Domico pass to Ryan for 12 yards (kick wide-right), 0:22
- First Downs: 13/12
- Rush Yards: 62/156
- Pass Yards: 178/193
- Total Yards: 230/349
- Penalties-Yards: 9-79/4-30
- Turnovers: 1/0
- Time of Possession: 24:17/23:43
- Clearfield: Collins-9 carries, 39 yards; Domico-8 carries, 20 yards, TD; Chamberlain-3 carries, 13 yards; Freeland-1 carry, 1 yard; Team-1 carry, (-11) yards.
- Forest Hills: Papinchak-11 carries, 115 yards, 2 TD; Cornell-7 carries, 28 yards; Mayes-6 carries, 13 yards.
- Clearfield: Domico-16 for 27, 178 yards, TD, INT
- Forest Hills: Cornell-16 for 31, 193 yards, TD; Team-0 for 2.
- Clearfield: Freeland-5 catches, 37 yards; Bell-3 catches, 46 yards; Ryan-3 catches, 45 yards, TD; Collins-2 catches, 28 yards; Putt-2 catches, 17 yards; Chamberlain-1 catch, 5 yards.
- Forest Hills: Williamson-7 catches, 52 yards; Richardson-3 catches, 62 yards; Papinchak-3 catches, 43 yards; Harteis-2 catches, 13 yards, TD; Mayes-1 catch, 23 yards.