HYDE — Clearfield quarterback Christian Lezzer ran for 139 yards and two scores and threw for 95 and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Bison to a 42-7 victory over visiting Philipsburg-Osceola Friday night at the Bison Sports Complex.
Lezzer created two of those scores with his scrambling ability, finding his way out of danger in his own backfield to throw a 41-yard touchdown strike to Trey Jordan late in the first quarter and changing direction behind the line of scrimmage a number of times before racing 56 yards for a score just before the half.
“I thought that was the best effort we’ve had from our kids all year,” Philipsburg-Osceola head coach Jeff Vroman said. “But once again, giving up big plays when we have someone hemmed in … that’s been a very common thing we’ve done all year.”
Clearfield’s initial series was a 46-yard scoring drive that culminated with a Lezzer to Jordan 13-yard score on a third and goal. That play came after an attacking P-O defense dropped Bison Tyler Stratton for a 6-yard loss on first down and stopped Lezzer for a 2-yard gain on second down.
P-O picked up a pair of first downs on its next possession, getting a 15-yard Curtis Matsko run and a 15-yard Matsko to Dustin Shuey pass to move from its own 7 to the 43 before the drive stalled.
Lezzer hit Jordan for their 41-yard connection on Clearfield’s ensuing possession and then Stratton busted off a 30-yard run for a score on the Bison’s third series.
Clearfield’s defense scored 14 seconds after Stratton’s run when Lezzer caused a fumble on the handoff and Seth Ford scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 20 yards to paydirt to put the Bison on top, 28-0 with 9:42 to play in the second quarter.
“We screwed up a pass coverage on the third and goal,” Vroman said. “We were attacking them. They weren’t blocking us early on in the football game. And we had some momentum. We were in pretty good shape. But then we gave up that play. And a little later, we gave up the fumble that they scored on.
“That’s what’s happened to us this year. That’s been our M.O.”
Lezzer’s 23-yard run with 6:07 left before the half made the score, 35-0.
P-O started the next drive on its 29 and moved to the Bison 43 before turning the ball over on downs.
Alex Gray ran for 25 yards and picked up a first down in the drive and Matsko hit Shuey for an 11-yard gain to move the chains again.
Matsko completed six passes to Shuey out of the backfield for 60 yards. Four of the plays went for first downs.
“That was something we thought we could work and make then defend it,” Vroman said. “And they couldn’t. If they want to do some things with their ends, we’re going to go where the void is and take care of that. We executed that pretty well.”
After taking over on its own 43, the Bison ran one play for a yard before Lezzer turned in a Houdini act that saw him change direction a number of times while avoiding several would-be Mountie tacklers. He eventually got to the edge and raced 56 yards for a score, making it 42-0 at the half.
“Speed on the perimeter was definitely a difference in the game,” Vroman said.
P-O’s Brian Mathews recovered a Bison fumble three plays into the second half and the Mounties turned the miscue into points as they drove 34 yards on five plays. A Gray 8-yard run was the payoff. Gray led P-O on the ground with 62 yards on 15 carries.
“We were able to move the football. That wasn’t an issue and we didn’t think it would be,” Vroman said. “Curtis has come a long way at quarterback. Is our offense half of what it could be? No. We’re taking baby steps with a lot of new kids, But I saw a lot of growth. I was very pleased with the way our kids played. We didn’t quit. We came over and went after it.”
Clearfield held a 372-163 advantage in total yards, but the Mounties outgained the Bison, 77-61 over the final two quarters.
P-O’s Conner Mann recovered a second Bison fumble that snuffed out a drive midway through the third quarter at the P-O 11.
“We came over here against a school twice our size and we played pretty well,” Vroman said. “Not what we would like to have, but I saw a lot of improvement. Maybe we can get healthy for next week. We have a game at Forest Hills and we have to go there and get after it and go for a win, That’s where we’re at.”
“I thought P-O played well, and I knew they would,” Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. “P-O played a good game. It wasn’t anything that wasn’t expected.”
P-O (0-9) closes its season at Forest Hills on Friday.
The Bison finished their regular season with a 9-0 record, the fifth unbeaten regular campaign in Janocko’s 28 years at the helm.
Clearfield plays Bradford next week in the District 9 Class AAA title game.