HYDE — If you like offense, Friday night at the Bison Sports Complex was the place for you. Both the Huntingdon Bearcats and the home Clearfield Bison racked up over 1,000 yards of total offense, with four touchdowns coming in the opening 3:40 of the game. Three of those scores belong to Bearcat running back Ian Border, who gashed the Bison defense routinely on the night for 288 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns.
“He paid his dues in the weight room,” Bearcats head coach Michael Hudy said of his workhorse running back. “(Border) is an example of what you can do if you work hard.”
“He’s a great football player,” Bison head coach Tim Janocko said. “We knew that coming in. He runs through tackles and we have some young kids ... playing on the defensive side of the ball.”
On the first offensive play of the game, Border took it 54 yards to the house after numerous broken tackles for a 7-0 lead just 20 seconds in. Once Clearfield went three-and-out, the Bearcats only took three more plays to score. After a Jonathan Price 56-yard end around got Huntingdon to the Bison 8-yard line, Border punched it in two plays later for a 14-0 lead with 9:26 left in the first quarter.
Clearfield quickly answered the Bearcats as Bison quarterback Isaac Rumery shot up the middle on a keeper for a 66-yard score 21 seconds later to cut the Huntingdon lead to 14-7. But just three Bearcat offensive plays later, they struck paydirt once again. Border notched his third score in 3:40 seconds with a 27-yard romp that put the Bearcats up 21-7 after Giovan Scaccia’s extra point.
“I didn’t know it was going to go that way,” Hudy said of the frantic offensive start.
The Bison started to settle down after that on the defensive side, only holding the Bearcats to a 30-yard Scaccia field goal throughout the next two quarters. The only problem was the Bison didn’t do much better in terms of finding the end zone. Micah Heichel’s 8-yard reception from Rumery 52 seconds into the second quarter was the lone touchdown until the scoring onslaught picked back up in the fourth.
“Huntingdon’s a real good football team,” Janocko said. “I said we were going to play back-to-back, really good football teams. And we did. We were shocked a little bit there in the first half. I thought we got better in the second half and moved the football. We just didn’t stick it in a couple times when we needed to.”
Three different times on the night, the Bison got well into Bearcats territory and came away empty handed. Clearfield got to the Bearcats’ 29-yard line with less than a second to go before halftime, but was intercepted by Alex Mykut. Clearfield’s opening drive in the third quarter lasted 14 plays and 77 yards. But on fourth-and-1 at the Huntingdon 3-yard line, the Bearcats stuffed Brett Zattoni up the middle for a turnover on downs.
“A couple times in the red zone, we needed to put it in,” Janocko said. “We could’ve gotten back where we had a chance to win the game, but we didn’t (score) in the third quarter.
Bison defender Taye Lynch picked off an Andrew Hudy pass six plays later and Clearfield drove down to the Huntingdon 21-yard line. Once again, a Rumery interception, this time by Price, nullified any momentum the home Bison had received.
The Bearcats put the game out of reach with Nick Troha’s lone pass on the night, as he found Price for a 62-yard score and a 24-point lead with 9:15 to play.
“We mix our personnel around with different packages,” Hudy said. “It’s all about breaking tendencies.”
While the Bison quickly answered with a score of its own 29 seconds later with Rumery finding Spencer Graham on a 3-yard pass, it was too little, too late.
Hudy’s different packages included Border taking control of the wildcat formation in the fourth quarter to run out the clock.
On second-and-22, Border scored his fourth and final touchdown on the night, this time from 48 yards out, to give Huntingdon a 45-20 lead with 3:40 to play.
The Bison never gave up and had a sustained drive that resulted in a 20-yard Luke McGonigal touchdown reception with 26 seconds left to set the final score at 45-27.
Hudy said it’s a big turnaround from last season’s team in starting out this year 4-0.
“Our schedule, I feel, is tough,” Hudy said. Especially those first four games. Last year at this point we were 1-3. But hey, we brought it. We played four quarters of football. Stamina, consistency, drives, all those adjectives. And (the players) are growing, too.”
Hudy said he’s been using a foundation analogy with his team this season in each game. The more the Bearcats win and do well, the more bricks get added to the foundation.
“That’s brick number four in the foundation,” Hudy said. “You’ve got to take the time to do it right. Hopefully we can take some confidence away from this game where they can play with anyone. I think we’re averaging 45 points a game, so we can score.”
While the Bearcats had 519 yards of total offense, including 377 yards on the ground, the Bison also compiled 484 yards.
Rumery threw for 313 yards, with Heichel notching nine receptions and 104 yards.
“It’s tough to dig out of a hole but I thought we clawed our way back in,” Janocko said. “I thought we played a lot better in the second half and we had an opportunity to get back in the game there. We’ve just got to keep working hard. We worked hard last week in practice. And if we keep working hard, we’ll get better.”
Huntingdon hosts Penns Valley next week while Clearfield falls to 2-2 and travels to Central Mountain.