BROCKWAY — Down one score at the break, St. Marys spent much of the second half in Clearfield territory, looking to tie the game or take the lead in the District 9 Class 3A Championship at Frank Varischetti Field.

But despite getting into the Red Zone on three occasions, including making it all the way to the Bison 8-yard line with under 30 seconds left in the game, the Flying Dutch couldn’t crack Clearfield’s defense, which came up big time-and-time again.

And when Bison Isaac Putt intercepted a halfback option, all that was left for Clearfield to do was take a knee and celebrate another district title in a hard-fought 13-7 victory played in a torrential rainstorm courtesy of the remnants of Hurricane Nicole.

“This was one for the ages. These kids will remember this game for the rest of their lives,” Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. “I’m just so happy for them. They fought through so much. They won a Mountain League championship. And they won a district championship.”

It’s the 18th district title in program history.

“That’s something to be very, very proud of as a program. These kids just fought through everything and I’m so proud of them.”

Despite the weather, both offenses made it look easy in the first quarter, each scoring on their opening possessions.

The Bison got a nice return from Brady Collins on the opening kickoff, taking the ball all the way to the Clearfield 47, and went on an 8-play, 53-yard drive to dent the scoreboard first.

Collins carried five times for 34 yards on the series, including a 14-yard TD run on a counter trap, waltzing into the end zone untouched with 8:21 left in the first.

But St. Marys’ Carter Chadsey busted through the line on the PAT attempt and blocked the Evan Davis kick to keep it a 6-0 score.

He was then a big key on the ensuing Dutch drive, which covered 70 yards, as he moved the chains with a 10-yard reception for the initial first down for St. Marys and caught a 3-yard TD pass from Charlie Coudriet to cap the 7-play series with 4:00 still left in the first quarter.

Coudriet had no trouble throwing the ball in the rain on the first possession as he connected on all five attempts for 60 yards, hitting Logan Mosier three times for 47 yards.

The offenses continued to rule despite the weather as it was Clearfield’s turn to navigate the soggy turf.

The Bison started the next series at their 30 and went 70 yards in 12 plays — all runs — to regain the advantage.

Carter Chamberlain started the drive with a 7-yard run and ended it with a 1-yard plunge with 8:54 remaining in the half. Collins had a pivotal 20-yard carry on a third-and-2 from the Bison 38.

“The line had a great game,” Janocko said. “Isaac and Joe Knee and Eric Myers and Nolyn (Rockmore) and Zach (Billotte). All those guys played a great game again, and our three backs ran hard. Obviously we didn’t throw the ball ... why would we?”

The Chamberlain score ended up being the game-winner as both defense began to buckle down and the rain continued to get harder and harder as the game wore on.

The Dutch, who moved the ball so easily on their first series, picked up just one first down on their second and had to punt.

St. Marys ran a fake, but Isaac Samsel blew the play up in the backfield, giving the Bison prime real estate at the Dutch 42.

Clearfield ran six times to get to the Dutch 13, but disaster struck on a third-and-3 play when Jacob Samsel couldn’t handle the shotgun snap with the wet ball and it scooted along the turf where he tried to fall on it all the way back at the 29.

He got his hands on the ball with his knees downs and the officials blew the play dead as the ball squirted away. Alex Lukaschunis picked up the loose ball and had started running toward paydirt, but the officials whistled the play over.

“It’s a bang-bang play,” St. Marys head coach Chris Dworek said. “The ref explained to me what he saw and there’s no sense yelling. He saw what he saw, and that happens. But we stopped them on the next play so you can’t get too upset about it.”

“They blew it dead when he contacted with the ground,” Janocko said. “It’s just one of those things.

Clearfield turned the ball over on downs on the next play and St. Marys drove the ball all the way to the Bison 6. But thee incomplete passes ended the threat and the Bison took over on downs, ran one play and went to the half ahead 13-7.

Both teams punted on their first possessions of the second half before St. Marys was able to put on a drive thanks in large part to a pass interference penalty on a third-and-13 play.

St. Marys got to the Bison 18 where it had the ball second-and-1 and was unable to get the yard to move the chains.

Coudriet was dropped for no gain on first down then threw an incomplete pass on second just a little too far his receiver. On fourth-and-1, the Dutch ran a flare to Mosier, but Bison Aiden Graffius brought him down for a 1-yard loss to thwart the Dutch in the Red Zone again.

After a three-and-out for the Bison, St. Marys put together another drive with Coudriet hooking up with Mosier for a 25-yard gain, which helped the Dutch get deep into Clearfield territory again.

But the drive stalled at the Bison 29 and St. Marys turned the ball over on downs again.

“It’s easy to look at the end of the game in a close game, but we had a lot of chances all throughout the game to do some damage and couldn’t take advantage of it,” Dworek said. “Against a good team you have to take advantage of a lot more drives than we did.”

The Dutch defense did its part to get the ball back, making the Bison go three-and-out again, but Isaac Samsel unleashed a 61-yard punt that completely flipped the field.

St. Marys had to start the drive at its own 4 with time becoming a factor in the fourth quarter.

“What a punt, and we got the wind to blow it and help us a little bit,” Janocko said. “It was a heck of a punt. He had a great game.”

Clearfield forced a punt from the Dutch 16 and likely needed just one or two first downs to salt the game away, but Lukaschunis stripped Collins of the ball on third down and gave the Dutch the ball on the Bison 34 with about two minutes left to play.

St. Marys, which hadn’t been able to run the ball all game long against the Bison front suddenly started finding success on the ground with Matt Davis picking up 18 yards on four carries.

The Dutch got to the 8 and, after an incomplete pass on first down, tried the halfback pass. The ball hung up in the air in the corner of the end zone and Putt made the game-saving pick.

“Isaac Putt came up with a huge play,” Janocko said. “God bless him. He’s a great kid. He does everything. He plays several different positions for us. He’s our long snapper. I’m happy for him to make a play like that.”

“After things calm down, the guys should be super proud of their effort,” Dworek said. “Clearfield is a great program and they went toe-to-toe and fought the whole game. They’re pretty upset and rightfully so, but I’m super proud of them and the way they battled.”

With the win, Clearfield improved to 8-3 on the season.

The Bison get the winner of today’s District 6 title game between Central and Penn Cambria. But they’ll take a little time to relish in this victory.

“We’re going to take a little bit of time and enjoy this one,” Janocko said.

”EXTRA POINTS: St. Marys outgained the Bison 213-176. Clearfield held a 145-132 advantage in yards at the half ... Collins ran for 118 yards on 25 carries, Carter Freeland had seven totes for 51 yards and Chamberlain picked up 28 yards on nine runs ... Coudriet was 13-of-30 for 167 yards. Mosier had 100 of those yards on seven receptions.

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