Typically, 2nd and 40 isn’t an ideal position to be in during any football game.
But when Bellefonte faced this distance Friday night, they ended the drive with a touchdown in a 28-19 win over Clearfield to remain atop the Mountain League standings.
“It’s awesome. It’s good to be on top of the Mountain League,” senior RB C.J. Funk said. “Obviously, they are a really good team. They were 5-0 coming in and you can’t take them lightly. We just got to keep moving forward.”
Funk’s coach, Shanon Manning, echoed those words after the win.
“It gets us ready for next week,” Manning said. “We get ready to welcome Penns Valley to Rogers Stadium in seven days.”
Bellefonte began the drive at the Bison’s 39 after an interception from Mason Grey. The first play of the drive saw the Red Raiders lose 16 yards — 1 rushing yard and 15 from a personal foul penalty. Two plays later, Bellefonte looked to go up 27-19 on a reverse, flea-flicker from Ethan Rossman to Funk for 54 yards, but another personal foul penalty negated the play and set up 2nd and 40.
Again, two plays later, Rossman hit Chris Paloskey for an 18-yard screen pass to end the third quarter and make it 4th and 8 at Clearfield’s 37. The first play of the fourth quarter saw Rossman connect with Grey for their second score of the game together on a 37-yard pass, and it was over from there.
“Coach (Shawn) Hale fell into rhythm with a great call on a screen to get us manageable and we finished the drive off,” Manning said. “Coach (Terry) Bumgardner did a great job and made a couple of adjustments to their no-back (set). It paid huge dividends to us.”
Rossman finished the night 6-of-9 for 145 yards and three scores. Grey was the leading receiver with just two catches for 70 yards —both for touchdowns. Grey was also the lone receiver with multiple receptions in the game.
Funk was 203 yards away from getting to 1,000 rushing yard on the season. Heading into next week’s game, he only needs 75 yards. The senior finished with 128 yards on the ground on 15 carries. Most of those yards came on an 85-yard score that saw him squirt out of a pack of players and race down the sideline to give Bellefonte a 21-19 lead with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
“We got really unbalanced and had more guys on one side than they did,” Funk said of the play. “I just had to make some things happen. The guys blocked well all game. They (Clearfield) are really big so it was hard to move them.”
The Red Raiders’ defense bent but never broke keeping the Bison from the end zone the entire second half.
Bellefonte’s defense was set to have their hands full on Friday night with Clearfield’s receiver Jake Lezzer, who entered the game with 34 catches for 560 yards and four touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. The Red Raiders’ Manning knew it wasn’t all about Lezzer.
“We were aware of him. I don’t know that we featured everything around him,” Manning said. “To be honest, their offensive line scared me to death and 28 (Brett Zattoni) is an unbelievable running back. They have so many weapons. It is hard to sit and say, if I stop 4 (Lezzer), they still have 28 (Zattoni), 14 (quarterback Oliver Billotte), they still have kids. They are just too dynamic.”
Lezzer was held to five receptions for 30 yards. Zattoni had 48 yards rushing on 19 carries. Billotte finished the night 14-of-33 for 142 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Some would say, Bellefonte did just fine taking care of those three. For Clearfield coach Tim Janocko, it was about missed opportunities.
“We left some plays out there,” Janocko said. “In a big game, you got to come through with some of those plays. It was a good high school football game.”
The end might not have been what Janocko’s squad wanted, but the beginning sure played in their favor.
The Bison fell behind 8-0 after one quarter, but it didn’t deter them. They scored 19 points in the second quarter with 13 unanswered to lead 19-15 at the half.
Clearfield began a drive with 6:43 left in the first half at their own 35. Four minutes and nine plays later, Logan Firanski rumbled in from 4-yards out. Zach Hess nailed the extra point and it was 15-13 with 2:34 left in the half.
The Bison forced a fumble on Bellefonte’s ensuing drive. They began a drive at the Red Raiders’ 46-yard line with 1:41 to go in the second quarter. Billotte methodically ran a two-minute offense to near perfection.
He was 4-for-6 on the drive, which finished with Billotte connecting with Nicholas Domico for a 1-yard score with four seconds remaining in the first half.
“We played a hard-fought game. I’m proud of our kids,” Janocko said. “We played through some injuries and adversity. You can’t expect to win every game, every year.”
Bellefonte 28, Clearfield 19
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield: 0 19 0 0 — 19
Bellefonte: 8 7 6 7 — 28
B — Grey 33 pass from Rossman (Nadolsky pass from Emel), 3:40.
C — Zattoni 2 run (run failed), 6:43.
B — Lehman 8 pass from Rossman (Rossman kick), 6:43.
C — Firanski 4 run (Hess kick), 2:34
C — Domico 1 pass from O. Billotte (run failed), :04
B — Funk 85 run (kick failed), 7:29.
B — Grey 37 pass from Rossman (Rossman kick), 11:54.
First downs: 17 15; Total yards: 295 331; Rushes-yards: 42-153 31-186; Yards passing: 142 145; Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 14-33-1 7-10-0; Punts-avg.: 2-29.5 3-27.5; Fumbles-lost: 0-0 1-0; Penalties-yards 6-55 8-105
RUSHING—Clearfield, Zattoni 19-48, O. Billotte 15-42, Plubell 2-17, Firanski 4-26, I. Billotte 2-20. Bellefonte, Rossman 7-31, Funk 15-128, Capparelle 3-1, Emel 2-12, Hummel 3-5, Lehman 1-9.
PASSING—Clearfield, O. Billotte 14-33-1-142. Bellefonte, Rossman 6-9-0-145, Funk 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Clearfield, Lezzer 5-30, Domico 5-55, Zattoni 2-21, Karson 1-38, Pallo 1-7. Bellefonte, Funk 1-21, Emel 1-9, Paloskey 1-32, Grey 2-70, Nadolsky 1-5, Lehman 1-8.