CLARION — Even when the Brookville Raiders lost the first time to Clarion nearly two months ago, a potential rematch was already a possible scenario.
And with a rematch, the Raiders hoped, would come a closer game with in the best-case scenario, a different result.
But, in the end, the senior-laden Bobcats were too good up front and plowed their way to another rout, this one a 55-12 win last Friday night at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium. It earned a rematch with Kane for the District 9 Class 2A title Friday at Brockway.
This time around, the still-unbeaten Bobcats ran for 390 yards and scored the first five times they touched the ball and led 33-0 before taking a 33-6 lead to halftime. Then they got the PIAA’s Mercy Rule running clock going at 41-6 with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
In the first meeting, the Bobcats ran for 385 yards and scored in every possession except the final one as they kneeled out a 58-22 win.
So simply put, the Raiders couldn’t stop the Bobcats.
“We knew what we were getting into and what we needed to do,” Raiders head coach Scott Park said. “That first quarter got away from us. We had some opportunities to get some stops and just didn’t tackle.
“They didn’t do anything we hadn’t seen. We just didn’t play well on defense.”
Colton Rapp ran for all 130 yards on 19 carries in the first half, breezing for three touchdown runs of 10, 10 and 15 yards. Keeven Weaver ran in the first two TDs of 12 and 9 yards to get the Bobcats going in their 20-point first quarter.
The Raiders just couldn’t get untracked as quarterback Jack Krug had to scramble out of trouble most of the night.
“It’s very frustrating, especially the way we’ve played since we played them the last time,” Park said. “We thought we could come in here and do a little bit better than last time. We knew it was going to be an up-hill battle, but I thought we had enough talent to where if we could play a perfect game or as close as perfect as we could, I thought we could be in the game.”
But that didn’t happen. Krug wound up completing 17 of 34 passes for 165 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. He connected with Bryan Dworek on a 13-yarder to get the Raiders on the board with 7:04 left in the second quarter.
Krug hit Brandon McGranor on a 37-yard pass in the fourth quarter for the Raiders’ lone scores. The Bobcats respected the Raiders’ ability to score points going into the game and made sure it didn’t happen.
“They’re scary,” Clarion veteran head coach Larry Wiser said. “I told them when we played them (the first time). They are very explosive with great athletes on the outside and Frank (Varischetti) does a great job coaching the offense and their staff does a great job. … I felt we controlled the clock. One of the things we did take away from the first game was we wanted to keep the clock running as much as possible.”
Which kept the Raiders from getting anything going. Bryan Dworek caught six passes for 34 yards and Tyler Park had five catches for 34 yards.
“It was a lot of base defense,” Wiser said. “We didn’t do a heckuva lot of blitzing. Our front four did a nice job and we wanted to make sure we weren’t opening up … They did a good job adjusting to what we were doing. In the end, we adjusted back.”
“They shut down our screens and defended those different, but really that shouldn’t affect us and we should be able to do the other stuff, but I just think maybe for the younger guys in some positions, that maybe it was a little bit overwhelming,” Park said.
The Raiders were able to break some Clarion momentum a little in the second quarter when Dworek recovered a Rapp fumble and returned it 10 yards to the Bobcats’ 22.
A 12-yard Krug pass to Ian Thrush gave the Raiders the ball at the 10, but the Raiders were stopped on downs after a 1-yard loss on a pass to Dworek and three incomplete passes.
Then after forcing the Bobcats’ lone punt of the game, the Raiders got to the Bobcats’ 6 on the final play of the half but came up empty on an incomplete pass.
“I thought in the second quarter we settled down and played a lot better on the defensive side,” Park added. “And we probably should’ve had three touchdowns in the first half but couldn’t get it in. It is what it is and we have to move on get better for next year.”
“It was huge,” said Wiser of the late first-half stops. “It would’ve given them an emotional boost, but I still think we had the momentum going into the second half.”
And the defense again delivered as Zak Bauer picked off Krug in the first possession of the second half and the Bobcats turned it into a touchdown on Logan Minich’s 4-yarder to get the Mercy Rule clock running.
Krug’s 37-yard TD pass to Brandon McGranor made it 48-12 with 7:09 left in the fourth quarter before Minich’s second TD set the final. Capably filling in for the injury Rapp for the last part of the season, Minich ran for 92 yards on 16 carries.
NOTES: Clarion tries to win its first district title since winning Class A in 2013. Kane beat the Bobcats, 21-14, last year. … Miller missed last year’s final with an injury. While completing 2 of 4 passes for minus-14 yards, he had two key runs of 15 and 25 yards in the first half. … The Bobcats were flagged eight times for 74 yards with the Raiders four times for 35 yards. Of the 12 penalties overall, six were holding or illegal blocks. … Krug finished his record-breaking rookie year with the Raiders with 2,856 yards and 40 touchdowns. He’s already fourth on the team’s all-time passing yardage list. … Dworek, who caught six passes for 34 yards, finished with 85 catches for 1,406 yards and 21 touchdowns, all obviously school records.