The line of scrimmage is key to any football game.
If you win the battle in the trenches, it usually means good things for your team.
Bellefonte was at a disadvantage there in its 42-7 loss to Clearfield on Friday night in Rogers Stadium.
The Bison’s offensive line opened up gaping holes for running back Seth Caldwell and wide receiver Ryan Lezzer, while the defensive line was blowing the Red Raider line off the ball and picked up several tackles for loss.
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“They owned the line of scrimmage,” Bellefonte coach Shannon Manning said. “Any one you ever talk to says you have to win the line of scrimmage and we didn’t do that today. They (Clearfield) have some good athletes up there and they owned it today.”
The Bison (5-1) finished with 286 yards rushing on 37 carries with Caldwell and Lezzer both eclipsing the 100-yard mark. Caldwell finished with 128 yards on 16 carries while Lezzer tallied 125 yards on seven carries.
The duo combined for four scores on the ground. Caldwell put Clearfield ahead 14-0 with 3:30 left in the first quarter and later scored with 1:28 remaining in the first half. His third and final touchdown came with 50 seconds left in the third and kicked in the mercy clock.
“Our offensive and defensive lines did a really good job,” Bison coach Tim Janocko said. “We were a little sloppy with penalties and kick coverage. Other than that we played a pretty solid game against a good team.”
The Red Raiders (1-5) responded to Caldwell’s first score of the game with a score of their own.
It all began with a Cade Fortney return of the kickoff to the Clearfield 30. Two plays later, Bellefonte picked up a roughing the passer penalty and moved the ball to the 13. The next play Red Raider quarterback Mark Armstrong connected with tight end Tanner Helms. Helms took the pass to the right side of the field and saw he was going to get stoppped. He cut back and went to the far side of the field, picked up a block from Kellen Moss and went in to score. It cut Bellefonte’s deficit to 14-7.
“Bellefonte is a good football team,” Janocko said. “Overall, we’ve been playing sound defense all year long. (However), we missed a couple tackles there on that touchdown in the (first) quarter.”
Just as the Red Raiders got momentum on their side, Lezzer and Clearfield took it back and kept it.
Lezzer returned the kickoff, which came from the Bison 40 due to a penalty on the extra point, to Clearfield’s 40. The first quarter came to a close with the Bison on their own 45. The first play of the second quarter saw Lezzer scamper 55 yards for a score and put Clearfield ahead by 14 again.
“Clearfield is a good football team,” Manning said. “They play fast and physical. They are playing with a lot of confidence and when a play is up for grabs, a team with more confidence will make those plays.”
From there, the Bison defense went on to shut down Bellefonte’s offense. Clearfield allowed just seven first downs in the game and gave up a total of 123 offensive yards.The biggest play they gave up other than the touchdown was a 27-yard run to Austin Jackson. Jackson led the Red Raiders’ rushing attack with 69 yards on 11 carries.
“Our confidence isn’t where we need it to be but I still see progress,” Manning said of his squad and the message to them after the loss. “Every game is huge for us right now. I didn’t want to complain and gripe. What’s the point, you scream and yell but its a coaching moment where you can kind of go on.”