When Jake Anderson scored from 7 yards out early in the second quarter to cap a 12-play, 70-yard drive Friday at Memorial Field, the Philipsburg-Osceola football team looked to have unbeaten Clearfield on the ropes.
But after cutting their deficit to 13-7, the Mounties watched as Bison quarterback Christian Lezzer took off on a sweep four plays later, making several P-O defenders miss on his way to a 67-yard touchdown run.
The long run swung the momentum back to the Bison and the visitors never relinquished it on the way to a 56-7 victory.
“The swing in momentum … once that happened, we never got it back,” P-O head coach Jeff Vroman said. “Of course, that’s when everything changed.”
The 67-yard touchdown run was the first of five scores for Lezzer, who carried the ball 16 times for 251 yards and also completed his only pass attempt of the game for 16 yards.
Clearfield took the lead on a 1-yard dive from Tyler Stratton with 7:52 to go in the first quarter as the Bison drove the ball 56 yards on seven plays — all runs — on its first drive. Stratton recorded 41 yards on the drive, but left the game with an injury and did not return.
After a 50-yard punt from Nick Boumerhi backed the Bison up to their own 10-yard line, Clearfield moved 90 yards in just six plays with the final 50 coming on a touchdown pass from Erik Sellers to Seth Caldwell, who shook a tackle in the flat and stepped out of another along the P-O sidelines before racing to paydirt.
“The play that hurt was the pass play,” Vroman said. “It should have been a 4-yard pass, and we turned it into a touchdown with a couple missed tackles. It’s that kind of stuff that we can’t have happen.”
Clearfield was unable to get the PAT off after a low snap and led 13-0 after one quarter.
Anderson’s 25-yard kickoff return set the Mounties up at their own 30 and P-O mounted an impressive 70-yard drive, mixing in four passes with eight runs.
Quarterback Curtis Matsko converted a fourth down with a 16-yard run on the drive and also picked up 21 yards on a third-and-8 to keep the chains moving.
P-O recorded 10 first downs in the first half and picked up 162 total yards.
“They have some athletes,” Bison head coach Tim Janocko said. “P-O can move the football. We knew that coming in.”
But even with all the yardage and first downs, the Mounties were only able to finish off one possession with points.
Meanwhile, Clearfield had 13 first downs and 287 yards in the first half and took a 35-7 lead into the locker room.
“In the first half, we had a lot of good things happening,” Vroman said. “Mason Pryde did a great job running the football. At times our offensive line really blocked people. That was nice to see.
“But we didn’t sustain as many drives as we would like to. We still put ourselves in second and third and long at some point, and a lot of it was our fault. It wasn’t something that they did. It was something that we have continually done, and that’s what is hard to fight through. It’s hard to fight through that when the other team didn’t put you there.”
Clearfield scored on a Lezzer 19-yard run on the opening drive of the second half to take a 42-7 lead and put the running clock in motion.
The Bison added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to set the final.
Clearfield racked up another 165 yards in the second half, while P-O managed just 36. The Mounties also lost a pair of fumbles and threw an interception.
“I didn’t think we played well in the second half in any facet,” Vroman said. “We turned the ball over a couple times. There were some things we just didn’t do well.”
Pryde led the Mounties on the ground with 43 yards on eight carries. Matsko added 42 yards on six runs and completed nine of his 20 pass attempts for 74 yards. He also tossed an interception.
Dustin Shuey and Matt Hummel each had three receptions. Aaron Mason had two receptions for a team-high 37 receiving yards.
Clearfield improved to 9-0 and will play in the District 9 title game in Week 10 against either Bradford or Punxsutawney at a site and time to be determined.
This is the third time in the last four years the Bison have put together an undefeated regular season. The only blemish on Clearfield’s regular season record over the last four seasons was a 40-33 loss to the Mounties two years ago.
P-O (1-8) finishes its regular season on Friday, playing host to Forest Hills.
“We just keep plugging,” Vroman said. “It’s the seniors last football game. We’re playing at home. Forest Hills has to make a long trip.
“But we have to put together a complete football game. That’s what we’ve been preaching all year, and until we do that we’re going to continue to struggle. We have to piece everything together and play well on both sides of the ball.”