After making some magic in the fourth quarter to beat Tyrone last week, Bellefonte football was riding high traveling to Clearfield.
But in a game deciding the top spot in the Mountain League, the Red Raiders were smacked by the Bison, early and often.
Clearfield (5-1, 4-0) methodically dominated the tone and line of scrimmage alike in a 28-0 win over Bellefonte (3-3, 3-1) on Friday night, gaining sole possession of first place in the Mountain League.
The Bison racked up 262 yards on the ground, popped the Red Raiders for 79 yards and a touchdown through the air, and limited Bellefonte to 69 yards total on the evening.
“I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage, mixed in the run and the pass,” Clearfield coach Tim Janocko said. “That’s a credit to our kids.”
Clearfield wasted no time, putting together a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the game’s opening series.
Clearfield moved the ball with simplicity, taking seven minutes off the clock and gaining positive yardage on every single play.
A big part of that was Bison senior running back Seth Caldwell, who finished with 118 yards on 27 carries. He had eight attempts for 43 yards on the first drive alone.
Caldwell capped the Bison march with a two-yard touchdown, giving him nine touchdowns on the year.
With momentum firmly in hand for Clearfield, a Bellefonte response would’ve been beneficial.
Instead, the Red Raiders were disjointed. Shifty running back Dexter Gallishaw was stopped for no gain, Chase Gardner threw an incompletion, and a fumble on a jet sweep exchange finished off a disappointing three-and-out.
“We had a hard time getting into the flow of the game,” Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning said. “We didn’t control our own destiny.”
Clearfield capitalized on Bellefonte’s inability to respond, punching in a touchdown on its ensuing drive. A one-yard run by Luke McGonigal, his first of two scores on the night, gave the Bison a two-touchdown advantage.
The next drive for Bellefonte? Another three-and-out.
Clearfield got into the end zone for a third time before halftime, as quarterback Isaac Rumery connected with Steven Sawyer for a 21-yard score with 1:09 remaining before the break.
At halftime, Clearfield held a 21-0 lead, tallying 212 yards. The half was highlighted by Caldwell’s 90 yards on 19 carries.
Bellefonte had only seven total yards after two quarters, but the Red Raiders weren’t down on themselves.
“We’ve been down 27-0 to come back,” Manning said, referencing his team’s close 33-28 loss to Jersey Shore in the season opener.
Bellefonte looked to have new life coming out of the locker room, as Gardner hooked up with Cade Fortney for a 32-yard completion on the first play of the half.
Three plays later, Gardner was picked off by Ryan Lezzer.
Clearfield cashed in again with McGonigal’s second touchdown, using a six-minute, 16-play drive to effectively kill any hope at a Bellefonte comeback.
In all, the Bison totaled 25 minutes, 30 seconds in time of possession.
“You want to have the ball in your hands as much as you can,” Janocko said. “We were able to do that tonight.”
Manning said he was encouraged by his defense’s adjustments at halftime, holding Clearfield scoreless in the fourth quarter.
He believes it’s something for Bellefonte to build on, but the coach knows his side has improvements to make before next week’s game at Penns Valley.
“(The Bison) were the better team. We didn’t play nearly up to our potential,” Manning said. “Some of that is on me. There’s some preparation errors, but these kids will be ready to play next week.”