Bald Eagle Comes from Behind and Spoils Senior Night in Clearfield
Written by: Phil Myers on Saturday, October 12th, 2019
Bald Eagle Area’s trip to Clearfield was rewarding to say the least. The Bald Eagles avenged last year’s embarrassing loss to the Bison by scoring the last three touchdowns to wipe out a 28-15 deficit and win 36-28. The defense, which could not stop Clearfield’s offense in the first half, shut the Bison out in the second forcing a turnover and stopping two fourth down tries deep in Bald Eagle territory.
On the other hand, Clearfield did everything but win the game. They outgained BEA, they ran twice as many plays, and time of possession wasn’t even close. The Bison had the ball for over 34 minutes, while the Bald Eagles could only manage less than 14 minutes. In fact, Clearfield moved the ball so well and converted key fourth down situations throughout the game that they never once punted.
The two quarterbacks put on quite a show as they accounted for 7 of the 9 touchdowns and 461 yards of offense. Oliver Billotte, the Bison sophomore signal-caller scored on two quarterback sneaks and hurled a 30-yard TD pass. He threw for 200 yards connecting on 20 of 31 tosses. Jaden Jones did a little better by throwing for 3 TDs and running for another. He passed for 196 yards, completing twelve tosses, and ran for an additional 69.
Clearfield took the opening kick and drove 65 yards in 11 plays. Billotte sneaked it in from a yard out and Zack Hess’s extra point allowed Clearfield to take a 7-0 lead four minutes and forty seconds into the game. On Bald Eagle’s first possession, Jones fumbled when trying to hand the ball off, and Alan Myers recovered for the Bison.
A run of a yard and Billotte’s 27-yard pass to his brother Ian put the Bison at the Eagle 20. A penalty of 5 yards, two plays that netted minus five yards, and an incompletion put Clearfield in a tough position, but Coach Tim Janocko decided to roll the dice on fourth and twenty. Billotte successfully hit Matt Pallo in stride for, not only the first down, but the touchdown. The play covered 30 yards and increased the lead to 14 with still 4:18 left in the first.
BEA answered with a fourth down touchdown of their own with under a minute left in the first stanza. After driving to Clearfield’s 18, Jones found Matthew Reese across the middle to cut into the lead. Carter Stere booted the point after and Clearfield’s lead was 14-7.
Billotte’s second one-yard sneak in the second capped an eleven play, 68-yard drive, and gave Clearfield a 21-7 lead. Not to be outdone, Jones found Kaden Bittinger open on another fourth down for the score. The play covered 14 yards and drew the Bald Eagles to within a score with under six minutes left in the half. BEA went for the two-point conversion and made it on a Kaden Bittinger to Thomas Snyder pass. The big play of that 72-yard drive was a 53-yard pass to Bittinger.
Jesse Nagle, BEA’s coach, said Jones missed a couple plays when he got hit in the nose and blood went all over causing him to come out for repairs. He had to don a new uniform too (#18 instead of his normal #12).
The see-saw battle continued as Brett Zattoni went up the gut for 12 yards giving Clearfield the 28-15 lead with 2:22 still on the clock. The eight-play drive covered 68 yards, but was aided by two BEA penalties totaling 28 yards.
2:22 was plenty of time for Jones and company. The senior signal-caller expertly engineered the visitors 67 yards in eight plays with no time outs. His throw from Clearfield’s seventeen to Reese for the touchdown, not only put his team within striking distance of 28-22 at the half, but gave Bald Eagle momentum that seemed to spark them and carry into the last two quarters.
BEA tallied the go-ahead TD in just over a minute into the third. Snyder’s kickoff return of 42 yards set them up near midfield. Five plays later the shifty Jones ran eleven yards for the score and the 29-28 lead.
Clearfield answered with a brilliant 17-play drive that took almost nine minutes off the clock. Facing a third and goal at the six, Billotte looked to have an open receiver at the goal line, but Bittinger dove in front of the intended Bison receiver intercepting the ball at the Eagle one.
Clearfield’s defense came up big forcing the only punt of the game which gave them the ball at the BEA 28 at the end of the third stanza. But Bald Eagle’s defense made the right adjustments and pressured Billotte into an incompletion on fourth down after a ten-yard loss on a fumble.
Four plays later, Snyder raced 47 yards to pay dirt increasing the Bald Eagle lead to 36-28. But there was still plenty of time for Clearfield to tie the game. The Bison embarked on a thirteen-play drive that covered 47 yards to the Eagle 14. On fourth down, BEA broke up the pass near the end zone and ran out the last minute to celebrate a hard-fought victory.
Nagle said about the defense, “The first half I don’t think we were playing our game. We settled down and made our adjustments and we talked to the kids individually and got them to understand what we had to do. In the second half we did that and we came out alright.”
Game Notes: Zattoni rushed 25 times for Clearfield and gained 104 yards. Pallo was the leading Bison receiver with seven grabs for 80 yards and a touchdown. Clearfield gained 347 yards, 200 through the air and 147 on the ground. BEA had 329 total yards with 196 coming on Jones’ passing and 133 rushing. Bittinger was the top receiver with five catches for 80 yards.
Clearfield falls to 6-2 and will travel to Philipsburg next week, while BEA is sitting pretty at 7-1 and hosts a tough Jersey Shore squad next Friday. Bald Eagle Area has a tradition that whomever has the best week of practice wears number 31 for the game on Friday nights. This is a tradition that began in the 90s when Steve Dornan, who graduated in 1989 and was the defensive player of the year according to a local newspaper, was killed in an auto accident. He, of course, wore #31. Tyler Bumbarger had the honor for this game.
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