BROOKVILLE — On paper, Friday night’s matchup between Clarion Area and Brookville could be viewed as the Bobcats’ rushing game against the Raiders passing game.
However, Clarion ended up scoring two touchdowns each way while Brookville scored both of their touchdowns on the ground as the Bobcats came out with a 29-12 victory at Brookville High School.
It didn’t help the Raiders that they lost quarterback Jack Krug to an apparent ankle injury with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter when he ran out of bounds following a quarterback scramble.
“It’s tough when you lose a guy like that, but I thought we still played some good football,” said Brookville head coach Scott Park. “We had some missed opportunities and we were still in the game until late.”
Things started out well enough for Brookville (3-1 overall) as the Raiders won the toss and took the opening kickoff 72 yards on 17 plays as Krug used both his legs and his arm. He completed 6-of-11 passes for 61 yards while rushing three times for 14 yards including an 11 yard touchdown run to cap off the opening drive. The PAT kick was no good keeping the score 6-0 with 6:44 to play in the quarter.
Just like last week against Karns City, the Bobcats got off to a rough start as a fumble on their second play of the game gave the ball back to the Raiders at the Clarion 35.
However, an incomplete pass and then an intentional grounding call backed the Raiders into their own territory at the 48. Krug was then chased out of the pocket and ran toward the sideline and his momentum took him onto the track. He then limped back to the field and he would not return as Robert Keth would take over at quarterback for the remainder of the game.
“Give Brookville credit for hanging in there after losing a big player like that,” said Clarion head coach Larry Wiser. “(Robert) Keth is a good quarterback in his own right. It obviously changed a little bit as to what we had game planned for.”
Clarion faced a fourth down play from the Brookville 37 to start the second quarter. On the first play Cal German connected with Ethan Burford who broke a tackle at the seven yard line and ran into the end zone. Beau Verdill added the PAT kick and Clarion took the lead 7-6 with 11:51 remaining in the half.
Brookville then used a 14 play drive to move the ball from their own 34 to the Clarion 25 before a sack on fourth down turned the ball over to Clarion.
The Bobcats would be unable to do anything as after a pair of completions to Cutter Boggess for 21 and Christian Simko of 17 yards, Kyle Macbeth would intercept a German pass along the sideline giving Brookville the ball at their own 31.
Brookville would hold the ball the remainder of the quarter before a desperation pass as time expired in the half was intercepted by Colton Zacherl leaving the score 7-6 Clarion at the half.
“I’m proud of our defense tonight,” said Wiser. “They were on the field a lot. We’re still dealing with some injuries as we were without Kyle Bottaro tonight although we got Mitch Knepp back and it was nice to see him out there.”
Clarion (4-0 overall) took the opening kickoff and drove 60 yards on six plays with German connecting on a 49 yard touchdown pass to Cutter Boggess. Verdill added the PAT kick for a 14-6 lead with 9:23 to play in the third.
After starting on their own 33, a sack on first down backed the Raiders to their own 17. After a nine yard run by Keth, he was then intercepted as he was falling to the ground by lineman Gabe Coull who returned the ball to the Raiders six yard line. A penalty on Clarion during the return pushed the ball back to the 16.
Austin Newcomb rushed three straight times totaling the 16 yards with the touchdown coming on a two yard run. A high snap to holder Christian Simko forced him to run which he was able to beat the defense to the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 22-6 lead with 7:21 to play in the third.
Brookville came up with a pair of turnovers in Clarion territory, but the Raiders would be unable to capitalize on either takeaway and turned the ball over on downs each time.
“We had some missed opportunities and yet we were still in the game,” said Park. “Our kids have the confidence and know they can play with anybody. We just have to regroup and keep working on things.”
Early in the fourth Clarion was forced to punt from their own end zone after taking over on their own 14 following another turnover on downs by Brookville. A sack and a penalty pushed the Bobcats back to their own two.
After the punt Brookville took over at the Bobcats 24. This time the Raiders would take advantage of the good field position as on the third play Cole LaBenne scored from four yards out. The two-point pass fell incomplete and Clarion led 22-12 with 8:15 left in the contest.
Brookville had a chance to creep closer as they recovered a fumble on the first play of the Bobcats next possession.
Once again the Raiders failed to capitalize and turned the ball back to Clarion after four downs.
Newcomb then rain the ball six straight times totaling 70 yards with the last 26 ending up in the end zone. Verdill added the PAT kick for the 29-12 lead with 3:03 to play.
Newcomb was held to just 16 yards rushing in the first half before finishing the game with 135 yards on 20 carries with two scores.
German finished 5-of-12 passing for 165 yards with two touchdowns and his first two interceptions on the season.
Burford caught two passes for 72 yards while Cutter Boggess also caught two passes for 76 yards.
“Austin used some hard running in that fourth quarter to get some first downs for us,” said Wiser.
LaBenne paced the Brookville ground game with 41 yards on 14 carries. Keth finished 9-of-21 passing for 56 yards with two interceptions. Ian Thrush caught seven passes for 81 yards, while LaBenne added five catches for 20 yards.
“We’ll take the win and take the night off before starting to get ready for next week,” said Wiser.
Clarion hosts upstart St. Marys (3-1) Friday, while Brookville travels to Karns City (3-1).