Going into Friday night’s game against unbeaten Clearfield Bald Eagle Area coach Jack Tobias had two things to worry about — Christian Lezzer and Tyler Stratton.
As it turned out that was one too many as Stratton gouged the Eagle defense for 204 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-6 Bison win on Senior Night.
“Stratton’s the real deal,” Tobias said of the 6-foot, 188-pound tailback. “If anyone on their team scared me it was him. He has big-play ability. He’s strong and fast and if you give him a crease he can go the distance. We felt the two keys to stopping them were him and Lezzer.”
It wasn’t that Lezzer didn’t have an impact on the game. He gained 77 yards rushing to complement Stratton and also had a pair of interceptions in the second half that stopped BEA from gaining any momentum and climbing back in the game.
But it was a long and uphill climb after the Bisons took a 24-point lead at the half thanks primarily to Stratton.
The Bison scored midway through the first quarter when Stratton broke loose off left tackle and sprinted 62 yards for a touchdown at the 6:16 mark. Spencer Herrington’s extra point made it 7-0.
A BEA fumble set up the next Stratton score. The Eagles turned the ball over on their own 15 two plays into their next possession and on the fifth snap Stratton went in from the 2. Herrington made it 14-0 with 3:16 to go in the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Stratton made it a one-play drive when he bolted 59 yards for a score and Herrington made it 21-0.
BEA fumbled the kickoff return and the Bison recovered at the Eagles’ 39. It took seven plays for Clearfield to get on the scoreboard, one of them a 24-yard burst by Stratton. The BEA defense stiffened and Herrington kicked a 23-yard field goal to make it 24-0 with 6:50 left in the half.
“You can’t turn the ball over three times in the first half against a team like that and expect to be in the game,” Tobias said. “We gave up too many big plays.”
At the same time BEA was unable to come up with any big plays as the Bison defense clamped down on the Eagles, holding them to 95 yards in total offense, 54 on the ground.
“I was real pleased with our defense,” said Clearfield coach Tim Janocko. “We knew BEA had speed and our defense was able to stifle them. That was the key to the game. And we moved the ball consistently.
“Bald Eagle was keying on Lezzer and that opened things up for Tyler (Stratton) and he was able to do some damage. Christian is a special athlete and we were able to put him different places on defense because we were concerned with Bald Eagle throwing the football.”
Stratton finished the Clearfield scoring on the end of a 69-yard, 13-play drive in the third quarter, going in from the 3 with 3:38 left. Herrington made it 31-0.
BEA finally got on the board when Tyler Schall kicked a 37-yard field goal with 7:45 to go in the game. He added what’s thought to be a school record 40-yard field goal as time ran out to give the Eagles something positive to take from the game.
“He works hard and in that situation, it was a chance to reward him for the hard work he puts in,” Tobias said. “He cleared (the crossbar) from 37 yards with no problem. I would have let him try it from 45. It was a chance to show people what kind of leg he has and it was a positive for the kids.”
The Eagles saw their record fall to 4-4 as they get ready to take on arch-rival Bellefonte in the Curtin Bowl Friday at Wingate.