BELLEFONTE — When Isaac Rumery plowed into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with eight seconds left in the first half, it looked like Clearfield was in great position in Friday evening’s District 5-6-9 Class 4A semifinal against Bellefonte.
The Bison only trailed 27-21 at the break despite being outgained 294-199 in total yards and they were getting the ball first in the third quarter.
But Clearfield failed to convert on its opening drive and then had starting quarterback Isaac Rumery sustain an injury on the next and the Red Raiders grabbed hold of the momentum and never let up as they rolled to a 62-21 victory to end the Bison’s season.
“We didn’t convert on a third down we needed to convert on and that changed some momentum,” Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. “And then our quarterback got banged up a little bit there and that changed some things we wanted to do.
“We dropped some balls we needed to catch for some first downs to stay in the game. There was a big first down we didn’t get (early in the second half). And once momentum swung, things just kind of got out of control.
“And then when you sell out to try to do things, that’s what happens. That final score is not indicative of how the game was.”
Clearfield got the opening kickoff of the second half, but went three-and-out after a third-down pass was dropped. The Bison dropped six passes in the game.
Bellefonte responded with a 5-play, 78-yard drive that culminated with a Dylan Deitrich to Stephen Kutches 47-yard touchdown connection that gave the hosts a 34-21 advantage with 9:18 left in the third.
Clearfield’s next series was a disaster as Rumery was called for intentional grounding on first down and then was sacked on second down, putting the Bison in a third-and-32 from their own 33-yard line.
Rumery was shaken up on the play and had to leave and Clearfield’s next play went nowhere, forcing another punt.
The Red Raiders took over at their own 33 and needed just seven plays to reach paydirt. Deitrich had a 39-yard run in the drive and Dexter Gallishaw finished it off with an 11-yard run to put Bellefonte in front 41-21 with 5:35 to go in the third.
Bellefonte gashed the Bison on the ground for 417 yards on 45 carries. The Raiders had three players go over 100 yards rushing and the trio combined for 18 plays of 10 yards or more on the ground.
Deitrich led the way with 156 yards on 15 carries. C.J. Funk ran just eight times for 140 yards and two scores and Gallishaw picked up 100 yards on 15 totes.
Deitich also threw for 114 yards as Bellefonte racked up 531 yards of total offense.
“They have a lot of good athletes and they mix it up,” Janocko said. “They’re not real fancy. But they are a senior-dominated team. This is the best team they’ve had in years. This is their year and they did a good job.”
Bellefonte tacked on three more touchdowns in the final quarter with the final one being a 60-yard interception return from Cade Fortney.
Bellefonte opened the scoring with a 4-yard run from Deitrich that capped a 55-yard drive. But Chris Persiko’s PAT was wide and the Raiders had to settle for a 6-0 lead.
The Bison answered with a 12-play, 57-yard drive with the payoff being a 7-yard TD pass from Rumery to Spencer Graham. Jake Sorbera’s PAT was true and Clearfield led 7-6 with 5:10 to go in the first.
The Raiders came right back with a 67-yard drive that ended with Funk’s 21-yard score on a jet sweep. Persiko was wide on the extra point again and Bellefonte had a 12-7 advantage with 2:29 still left in the first.
Bellefonte was able to get a stop on defense on the next series and got the ball back at its 30 after a 42-yard Sorbera punt.
Deitrich scored from 18 yards out five plays later and Persiko added the PAT to make the score 19-7 early in the second quarter.
The Bison got right back in the game when Rumery scrambled to the sideline on a third-and-13 from the Clearfield 10 and found a wide-open Taye Lynch 40 yards downfield. Lynch cruised the rest of the way to complete the 90-yard TD connection, which made the score 19-14.
But once again, the Raiders answered, needing just two plays to cover 50 yards. Funk’s 27-yard run and Deitrich’s 2-point conversion made it 27-14 with 6:12 to go in the half.
Clearfield then regained all the momentum with a workmanlike 14-play, 65-yard drive that ate up the rest of the first half clock and culminated with Rumery’s 1-yard sneak.
But the Bison couldn’t keep the momentum into the second half and bowed out of the postseason to finish with a 6-5 record. Bellefonte advanced to the D5-6-9 final against Johnstown, which defeated Bradford 35-13.
“We got in the playoffs,” Janocko said. “We’re a young team — the youngest team I’ve ever put on the field in my career with just six seniors. But we had that winning season, and we got in the playoffs. We would have liked to have done better.
“Do we like losing? No. But we lost to a good football team. Them and Johnstown is going to be a good game.”
Rumery was 16-of-32 for 210 yards and two touchdowns, while also throwing two interceptions. Lynch caught eight balls for 165 yards and a score. The duo are two of many reasons that Janocko is already looking forward to next season.
“I am excited because I know where we are going to be,” he said. “We’re only losing a couple of key kids with Micah (Heichel) and Zach (Horton) and Luke (McGonigal) and our kicker (Sorbera) and a couple reserves.
“But we have a lot coming back. There is a bright future here. We’ll be back.”
EXTRA POINTS: Rumery ended the season with 2,652 yards passing and 33 touchdown passes. Both of those marks are second to Chad Kroell on the all-time single season list. Rumery also moved into third plays in the career yardage list with 4,609. He is just 56 yards behind Curtis Frye and trails Kroell by 1,479. Rumery’s 52 career TD passes are already second behind Kroell’s 79.