Clearfield topples St. Joan of Arc Catholic, 35-20|
Saturday, September 01, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
HYDE - There is no doubt the Clearfield football team and its fans were excited about Friday night's opener at the newly renovated Bison Sports Complex.
Clearfield debuted the 2012 version of the Bison on the brand new FieldTurf and welcomed a team from north of the border in what is thought to be the first sporting event the school has ever played with an international flavor.
And somehow the Can-AM Clash managed to exceed the lofty expectations, as Christian Lezzer figured in all five Bison touchdowns to lead Clearfield to a 35-20 win over St. Joan of Arc from Ontario, Canada.
"It was a very special night," Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. "We had a huge crowd. I was very pleased with our crowd. And they were not only here, but they were animated. They were into it. And that's always great to see."
What the Bison faithful got to see was a big performance from Lezzer, who lined up at quarterback, running back and receiver on offense and played a key role on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Lezzer completed 5 of his 11 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, rushed 13 times for 103 yards and a score and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass. The Bison junior added a defensive score as well, returning a St. Joan of Arc fumble - that he caused on a strip-sack - three yards to paydirt.
"What more can you say about Christian? It was every facet of the game," Janocko said.
Lezzer wasn't the only Bison putting on a show, however, as receiver Trey Jordan racked up 120 receiving yards and scored a pair of touchdowns and Tyler Stratton ran for 83 yards on 13 carries and recorded an interception as Clearfield had both the ground and aerial attack working against the Angels.
The Bison amassed 275 yards rushing and another 158 through the air for a total of 433.
"We racked up some yards," Janocko said. "We ran the ball well and threw it well. I thought Trey Jordan had a big game, and Tyler Stratton picked up some tough yards."
Clearfield scored on its first offensive possession, moving the ball 41 yards on six plays with Lezzer capping the drive with a 13-yard run.
The drive was set up by Jordan's 11-yard punt return after the Bison defense forced St. Joan's to go three-and-out on it first series.
The Angels moved the ball on their second possession, going from their 25 to the Bison 31 before a Jon Janocko sack of St. Joan's quarterback Nate Hobbs stalled the visitor's drive.
Clearfield took over on its own 14 after a 24-yard punt and proceeded to drive all the way to the Angels' 15, converting a fourth down along the way when upback Tyler Woomer took the snap on a fake punt and tossed a 13-yard completion to Stratton.
But Lezzer got intercepted by William Pitt-Doe inside the Angel 5-yard line as St. Joan's kept the deficit to just 7-0.
Pitt-Doe returned the interception 42 yards and the Angels had a 15-yard penalty for a horse-collar tackle tacked on to the end of the run.
St. Joan's drove to the Bison 6 before the defense stiffened, forcing a field goal try. The Daniel Voci 23-yard attempt went left of the upright and Clearfield maintained its 7-0 lead.
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Just four plays later, Lezzer hit a streaking Jordan down the sideline in front of the St. Joan's bench for a 60-yard touchdown pass. Spencer Herrington kicked the second of his five PATs to give the Bison a 14-0 advantage.
The Angels moved the ball again on their next series before Stratton ended the threat by intercepting Hobbs and returning the ball to the St. Joan's 45-yard line.
Lezzer and Jordan hooked up again three plays later on a 28-yard touchdown pass, padding the Bison lead to 21-0.
St Joan's answered immediately as Pitt-Doe took the ensuing kickoff at his 12-yard line, found a crease in the Clearfield defense and blazed to an 88-yard touchdown with 1:21 left before the half.
The Bison went into their hurry-up offense, but were unable to move the ball and had to punt back to the Angels, who took over on their own 17.
On the first play of the series, Hobbs dropped back to pass and was stripped of the ball by Lezzer, who scooped it up at the 3-yard line and stepped into the end zone for another Bison touchdown.
Lezzer's score was the third touchdown in a span of 57 seconds and gave Clearfield a comfortable 28-6 lead heading into the break.
Clearfield scored on the last play of the third quarter to up its advantage to 35-6 as Woomer hit Lezzer for a 16-yard score on a fourth down play.
Woomer was 3-for-3 for 34 yards passing and rushed for 41 yards on seven carries.
"Tyler is very valuable to this team," Janocko said. "He allows us to diversify."
The Angels put up 14 points in the fourth quarter getting a 7-yard run from Brandon Gordon, who had 146 yards rushing on 17 carries, and a 21-yard pass from Hobbs to Timothy Nicholas.
Hobbs connected on 15 of 25 passes for 186 yards. Zephaniah Fraser-Blackett collected eight of those balls for 117 yards.
"That was a good game for fans to watch," Janocko said. "There was a lot of speed on that field. And we knew they were going to have speed and good skilled people.
"Their quarterback is only a sophomore and he threw the ball well. And their receivers and backs had good speed. I think it was really good for us to see that speed early in the year because once you see it you're not shocked any more, you're ready."
This is the third year in a row that St. Joan of Arc made a trip to the United States to play a preseason game. It played a team from Ohio two seasons ago and traveled to McKeesport last year.
"We know that football is a religion in Pennsylvania, and we want to come and play in the church and play in front of a big crowd and let our guys experience what it means to play big-time football," St. Joan of Arc head coach Tom Pianta said. "You guys treat football the way we treat hockey.
"We're honored. It's a beautiful town and a great crowd. We loved coming down to this part of the state. It was a much better experience than years past. We're happy with our boys' effort. Clearfield is a real good team, and I think Coach (Janocko) should be very proud of his team. I think they'll have a great season."
Normally a four-and-a-half hour trip, the Angels were on the bus for nearly seven hours and had very little time to ready themselves before kickoff.
"We got stuck at the border for two hours," Pianta said. "We were just in time to have a quick team dinner and get a quick warmup, and we played.
"This game is an exhibition games for us, but we take it quite seriously. We know this means something to Clearfield. Our full team wasn't here tonight, but the guys that did manage to make the trip put up a good effort against a very good team."
St. Joan's has been to its region's semifinals each of the last two seasons and made the finals the two seasons before that.
"We consider ourselves to be one of the better teams in our region," Pianta said.
The Angels also said they would consider a return trip to the Bison Sports Complex if Clearfield had an opening in a future season.
"I talked to Coach Pianta after the game, and he said it was a great experience and they'd love to come down again," Janocko said. "I think that says a lot about everything here and what (athletic director) Bob Gearhart and his assistants and everyone (do) and how they ran things here.
"It was a good way to start the season off ... an excellent way. Our fans were enthusiastic, the cheerleaders, the band, everybody was enthusiastic and had a good time tonight. It was entertaining."
Clearfield travels to Penns Valley Friday.
St. Joan of Arc,
Score By Quarters
St. Joan of Arc 0 6 0 14-20
Clearfield 7 21 7 0-35
CL-Lezzer 13 run, (Herrington kick), 8:01.
CL-Jordan 60 pass from Lezzer, (Herrington kick), 5:43.
CL-Jordan 28 pass from Lezzer, (Herrington kick), 1:36.
SJ-Pitt-Doe 88 kickoff return, (kick blocked), 1:21.
CL-Lezzer 3 fumble return, (Herrington kick), 0:39.
CL-Lezzer 16 pass from Woomer, (Herrington kick), 0:00.
SJ-Gordon 7 run, (Hobbs run), 5:58.
SJ-Nicholas 21 pass from Hobbs, (kick blocked), 0:12.
Total First Downs 15 20
Rushes-Yards 27-152 48-275
Comp-Att-Int 15-25-1 8-14-1
Passing Yards 186 158
Total Plays-Yards 52-338 62-433
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Punts-Avg 3-31 3-35
Penalties-Yards 8-40 8-55
St. Joan of Arc-Gordon 17-146, Pitt-Doe 2-6, Hobbs 8-0.
Clearfield-Lezzer 13-103, Stratton 13-83, Woomer 7-41, Graham 7-38, Trude 3-8, Ford 1-5, Rosa 1-(-1), Team 1-(-1), Rowles 2-(-1).
St. Joan of Arc-Hobbs 15-of-25, 186 yds, 1 TD, 1 Int.
Clearfield-Lezzer 5-of-11, 124 yds. 2 TD. 1 Int.; Woomer 3-of-3, 34 yds., TD.
St. Joan of Arc-Fraser-Blackett 8-117, Sparks 4-22, Nicholas 2-29, N. Voci 1-18.
Clearfield-Jordan 4-120, Stratton 2-15, Lezzer 1-16, Lord 1-7.