HYDE — The Clearfield football team scored three times in the final 4:35 of the first half, including two touchdowns in the last 5 seconds to blow open Friday evening’s game against Central at the Bison Sports Complex.
The 21-point onslaught capped by a 37-yard Isaac Rumery to Taye Lynch TD pass as time expired in the half made the score 28-7 at the break and the Bison rolled to a 42-14 victory over the Red Dragons.
Even with the score being so close midway through the second quarter, the Bison held a huge halftime advantage in total yards (286-83) and first downs (17-7).
“We made some big plays, but I thought as the game went on our offensive and defensive lines started to wear them down,” Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. “We pounded the ball, and that takes a lot out of the defense.
“And I thought we did a lot of good things on defense and took a lot away from them. We just played very well on both sides of the ball.”
The game was tied 7-7 with 8:30 to go in the second quarter thanks to Dragon quarterback Noah Muthler’s 1-yard run that capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive.
But the Bison answered with their own long drive, going 66 yards in 10 plays with Rumery getting the payoff with a 3-yard run with 4:35 to go in the half. The second of six Zach Hess extra points made it 14-7.
Bison defensive back Jake Lezzer picked off Muthler near midfield on the next series, but the Dragon defense forced Clearfield to go three-and-out and punt the ball away.
After the Dragons moved the ball to their 47, the Clearfield defense stiffened and Central had to punt back to the hosts with a little over a minute left on the second-quarter clock.
That was plenty of time for Clearfield to score. In fact it was plenty of time for the Bison to score twice.
Rumery guided the Bison on a 7-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a Brett Zattoni 7-yard touchdown run with 4.3 seconds left in the half.
Lezzer made two big plays in the drive, picking up 15 yards on a jet sweep before catching a 41-yard pass from Rumery. The Bison sophomore receiver caught six balls for 104 yards in the game.
Clearfield squibbed the ensuing kickoff and the Dragons were unable to come up with the ball. Bison Nick Domico recovered at the Central 37-yard line. giving the hosts one more snap before the half.
The Bison made the most of it with Rumery heaving the ball to Lynch, who lept over a pair of Dragon defenders in the back of the end zone to come down with a back-breaking 37-yard TD reception as the half ended.
“That was two great athletes making a play,” Janocko said. “The offensive line gave Isaac time and Isaac has the arm to do it, and Taye Lynch has the ups and he came down with a great play.”
“When those kinds of things happen, you really have problems,” Central head coach Dave Baker said. “They’re good and can’t give them more opportunities than they earn or normally would get. Once you give them those extra possessions, you’ve got problems.
“They were the better team. They are difficult to stop. They are just a very good team. We can say if we could have maintained some things and not given them the ball back at the end of the half, it just would have taken them a little longer.”
The Bison offense continued to roll in the second half. Clearfield had scoring drives of 63 and 43 yards and ate up nearly the entire third-quarter clock as the Dragons only ran four plays to the Bisons’ 17.
Zattoni had a 1-yard run to make it 35-7, while backup quarterback Oliver Billotte added his own 1-yard plunge to give Clearfield a 42-7 advantage with 53 seconds left in the third, setting the Mercy Rule in motion.
Billotte’s TD was set up by the Bison defense as Spencer Graham recovered a fumble at the Dragon 43. Central fumbled seven times in the game, losing two to the Bison, who played inspired defense after allowing 500 yards last week in a 56-42 win over Penns Valley.
“We have two young inside linebackers and some younger kids in different places and that was their second game last week,” Janocko said. “We’re cleaning things up and this is when you want to start hitting your stride. We have a tough road in front of us.”
Zattoni carried the ball five times to take the ball from the 43 to the 1. He ended the night with 111 yards on 18 carries.
Caleb Freeland added 65 yards on 13 totes as the Bison picked up 252 yards on the ground. Freeland’s 10-yard touchdown run started the scoring with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
Central finalized the scoring in the fourth quarter when Muthler threw an 11-yard strike to Braden Kitt with 6:24 left to play.
Clearfield had a 24-13 advantage in first downs and had 423 yards of offense to Central’s 204.
The Dragons slipped to 1-2 on the season, while the Bison improved to 3-0.
Clearfield travels to Huntingdon Friday.