ROARING SPRING — Few left the Roaring Spring feeling shortchanged Friday night.
Central and Clearfield entered unbeaten and the Bison nearly delivered an early knockout punch, leading 17-0, before the Dragons gamely regrouped to take the lead in the fourth quarter, 21-17, and energize their large home crowd only to fall in the last two minutes, 24-21.
Clearfield moved 70 yards in 10 plays with standout sophomore quarterback Oliver Billotte capping a strong performance on a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:54, and the Bison defense capped the victory with one last stand.
Billotte accounted for 233 yards of total offense — 119 on 19 rushes and 114 on nine completions. He scored three touchdowns.
“He’s got a lot going for him,” Clearfield coach Tim Janocko said.
Clearfield junior receiver Jake Lezzer caught seven passes for 83 yards, including four in the second half and two on the game-winning drive.
“We had the same thing last week,” Lezzer said. “We just keep growing as a team. The best thing after we got down is we kept staying together and not worrying about the past.”
Billotte scored on a 50-yard run on the game’s second play, and the Bison bolted to a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but Central regrouped.
“We were playing a lot of young kids,” Janocko said. “They have a young team, too. It was a heckuva high school football game, a lot of fun. Those guys always do a great job coaching. You come here, you know it’s going to be tough, and it was tough. They made plays, we made plays, but we had the ball at the end and were able to punch it in.”
Central scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds left in the first half to cut the lead to 17-7, and when the Dragons pounced on two Clearfield fumbles in the third quarter, momentum had shifted.
Dragon senior quarterback Braden Kitt lofted a 35-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Josh Biesinger, giving the Dragons their first lead at 21-17 with 11 minutes remaining.
But Clearfield’s defense stiffened, and its offense assembled the game-winning drive.
“We just couldn’t quite close it at the end,” Central coach Dave Baker said. “We had couple opportunities in the fourth quarter, and we could not possess the ball. We certainly improved our team tonight. We proved to ourselves we can compete against a quality team like Clearfield. It was definitely a step forward for us. We know we have a ways to go, and this was a step forward, although itís disappointing to lose it after we had pretty much taken control of the game.”
Leading 17-14, Clearfield had a chance to go up 24-14 in the third quarter as Logan Firanski appeared headed to the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown run, but he was drilled by Demetrious Harbaugh and the Dragons’ Zach Imler recovered.
The play was ruled a touchback, to which Baker said: “The rule is you can pick up a fumble or an interception and run it out. I couldn’t tell.”
Notable: Clearfield’s Dravon Royer made two catches, including a 20-yard catch-and-run to the Dragons’ 5 that set up the game-winning TD. ... The Bison came in averaging 43.5 points per game. ... Baker (39 years at Central and Williamsburg) and Janocko (35 years at Clearfield) have a combined 475 wins. ... Clearfield lost senior running back-linebacker Brett Zattoni (knee) in the first quarter, but Janocko thought he’d be ready for next week. ... Next week: Central (2-1) visits Penns Valley, while Clearfield (3-0) hosts Huntingdon.