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Bobcats Top Bulldogs To Win Fifth Straight KSAC Small School Championship

Written by: on Monday, October 27th, 2014

 

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by David McClaine

It had all the makings for great game. Last division game of the season, home team’s Senior Night, standing room only crowd; Clarion – defending, 4 straight KSAC Small School Champions, 7-1 record, team with a punishing ground game and the District’s premier running back; Redbank Valley – 8-0 record, looking to unseat Clarion with an aerial assault led by a their superb quarterback.

Ian Corbett turning the corner while being escorted by Alexander Burkhart(Photos by Bri Nellis – Bri Nellis Photography) Ian Corbett turning the corner while being escorted by Alexander Burkhart
The game on Friday (October 24), at Redbank Valley, was the classic matchup of contrasting styles. And by the middle of the second quarter, onlookers were realizing they were witnessing something special. At game’s end, they realized that they had witnessed an offensive display, the likes of which, they probably would never see again.

The Bobcats came away with a 58-46 win, to claim their 5th straight Championship and keep their unbeaten streak against KSAC Small School foes intact. Clarion has now won each of their 25 games in the Small School Division since the current format was begun in 2010.

But the final score doesn’t tell half of the story. The two teams combined for 1237 total yards of offense. There were 15 touchdowns scored. And each team’s marquee player had career nights with both taking the game on their shoulders and their supporting casts refusing to quit.

Bobcat, Ian Corbett, followed the blocking his line and fellow backfield mates, for 392 yards on 29 carries, the second most in District Nine history, scoring 5 rushing touchdowns and 3 two-point conversions. He also had another touchdown on a kickoff return.
Bulldog, Jake Dougherty completed 40 of 69 passes for a State single game record 614 yards, while throwing for seven touchdowns, to a very gifted receiving corps.

Now for the game details (so much offense, had to limit to scoring plays and few others, or it would be like a volume of “War and Peace”).

Redbank Valley received the opening kickoff, but went 3-and-out and had to punt. The ball hit a Clarion player and the Bulldogs recovered at the Clarion 49. Several plays later, Dougherty threw to Corbin Hornberger for a 17 yard touchdown, to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead at 9:23.

Both teams stalled on their next possessions. But after getting the ball back, on the first play from scrimmage, Corbett took the ball down the left side of the field, outrunning everyone for a 72 yard score to knot the game at 6-all, at 5:38 of the first.

Redbank came right back with a 62 yard drive, culminated with a 14 yard scoring pass from Dougherty to Nick Shoemaker, at 3:54. Clint Thurston’s kick was good to move the score to 13-6 in favor of the Bulldogs.

Ethan Straffin with a receptionEthan Straffin with a reception
The Cats took their first lead of the game with 1:53 left in the first, with Thomas Plummer running the ball in from the nine. Jacob Troutman carried for the conversion; 14-13, Bobcats. A 24 yard scoring hook-up from Dougherty to Hornberger, with eleven seconds left in the quarter, gave the Bulldogs the lead back at 19-14.

A 6 yard touchdown pass from Dougherty to Hornberger, and a quarterback keeper for the conversion moved the Dogs’ lead to 27-14 at 8:06 of the second quarter. The Cats answered with a scoring strike from Taylor Smith to Adrian Weber, covering 53 yards. Corbett broke several tackles to score on the conversion, closing the gap to 27-22, at 5:51.

A 14 yard Dougherty to Conner Shoemaker, at 4:48 moved their lead to 33-22. But, then it was time for Corbett to light ‘em up, with a 76 yard kickoff return for a score cutting the deficit to 33-28.

A three yard touchdown pass from Dougherty to Nick Shoemaker, at 3:39 moved the Bulldogs’ lead to 39-28.

Destin Strauser on one of his hard nosed runsDestin Strauser on one of his hard nosed runs
The Cats cut the lead to three points at 39-36, with an 11 yard run by Corbett and a run by Destin Strauser for the conversion, at 2:22 for the final score of the first half.

In the span of 3 minutes and 29 seconds (5:51-2:22), there were 5 touchdowns and 35 points scored.

The halftime show featured a touching tribute to longtime Redbank Valley music instructor and band leader, Russ Reefer, who recently lost a courageous battle with cancer. The band did a medley of hymns, including “Amazing Grace,” as the crowd stood, with many holding their hats over their hearts. A tribute concert in Mr. Reefer’s Honor is scheduled for the near future.

The Bobcats scored on their first possession of the second half, on a 65 yard drive, capped by a two yard touchdown by Corbett, giving the Cats a 46-42 lead at 8:55 of the third quarter, for the only points registered in the stanza.

An Austin Shreckengost interception, later in the third, ended a Clarion drive at the 10 yard line. The Bulldogs started up the field, but after a sack by Colton Rapp, Redbank Valley was faced with a third and 28. But Dougherty hit Shoemaker with a pass covering 30 yards for a first down. Several plays later Dougherty connected with Wyatt Hetrick, who had 18 catches (D-9 record) for 242 yards (second to Keystone’s Ben Black in D-9 history), for a ten yard touchdown. The ball bounced off the crossbar and through for the PAT, and Rebank Valley led 46-42, at 10:32 of the final quarter.

Clarion took the lead for good with 8:13 left in the game, on a four yard touchdown run by Corbett, who also ran for the conversion, giving the Cats a 50-46 lead.

Redbank Valley was marching down the field for what could have been the lead, but Thomas Plummer intercepted a pass at the Clarion 5 yard line. On the Cats’ first play from scrimmage, Corbett took the ball down the field, for 95 yards and the score and again he ran for the two point conversion, setting the final at 58-46.

It is hard to say that anyone was a loser in this game. This can be attested to by the Bobcats giving the Bulldogs a standing ovation, when Redbank Valley took their seats at the post-game meal and Bulldog players returning the favor. But the big winners tonight were the fans, who saw a once in a lifetime game.

With his effort, Corbett went over 1500 rushing yards on the season (1573), only the sixth Bobcat to do so and over 3000 for his career (3233), joining Damien Slike, Kyle Cathcart and Chris McSwain as the only Bobcats to reach that plateau. With a good playoff run, Corbett could reach two very coveted rushing milestones: 2000 yards on a single season and 4000 career yards.

He also went over the 50 rushing touchdown plateau (52) and total touchdown plateau at (62). He has 26 rushing touchdowns and 33 total touchdowns this season.

As for Dougherty: he now has 2077 passing yards, is the All-time KSAC career passing yards leader with 5619, as he passed Moniteau’s Kyle Armagost and Keystone’s Adam Black on Friday. He also passed Brockway’s Alec Shaffer-Doane for 5th place on the District Nine list.

Congratulations to both young men on their accomplishments!!!! And congratulations to both teams for a remarkable display!!!!

The Bobcats will face Brookville, for their Senior Night Game, on Friday (October 31) at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

CAT QUOTES (PLUS, A DOG QUOTE)
Offensive Coordinator, Todd Smith: “I think a lot of credit has to go with Redbank. They played really well. They’re a good football team. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is another matchup between us and them. And Jake Dougherty played outstanding. He put the ball on the money. They had a nice game plan coming in. Coach Wiser kept switching things up on defense, to try to keep them off guard. I thought, in the second half our defense did a lot better job.

“Ian Corbett was unbelievable, tonight. He ran for 397 yards; just an outstanding performance. When he gets in the open, it’s just really hard to catch him and bring him down.

“I think you have to talk about Destin Strauser tonight, too. In the second half he really stepped up offensively for us, had some really big runs for us and some really nice blocks on some isolation plays on the linebacker that sprung us for some really big gains.

“Our offensive line played really well. I thought a couple of the passes that Taylor (Smith) completed in the first half were really big plays, because we were playing catch-up in the first half and they kept us in the game.

“The interception by (Thomas) Plummer was a big play because to come up with that… We were saying all we need is a turnover and get that ball back and we can eat some clock. And then Ian had that big run. It was a total team effort tonight, not just by the players, but by the coaches too. We worked together on this game tonight, better than I think I ever have, to try to make adjustments and to help us win the game. I think our team grew tonight.

“We were just trying to keep the guys up. You know, mistakes early in the game, they happen all the time. But it’s those people that cannot let that get to you, that can just put it behind them and turn it around; that’s what we did tonight. We were able to just keep battling.

“I thought, physically, we wore them down at the end of the game because we were just pounding the ball in the second half.”

Redbank Valley, quarterback Jake Dougherty: “That’s football. It‘s fun. That was just a great time, going out and being able to go against the fifth rated team in the state and being able to have fun and make it a game. Because it was you guys’ first real game, with that much points.

“It was fun to go out there. Ian’s a great player. Great game from Strauser, Straffin; kudos to some great guys. That’s just football. I hope everybody knows. I hope we can just work our way back to the D-9 Championship Game and show the AML the KSAC’s boss. That’s what it’s all about, representing the KSAC. Great football rivalry game.

(On Friendly rivalry) “I think the Clarion and Redbank guys, who get along, we’re out there, it wasn’t like hatred going at each other. It was just fun. It was fun to be out there. We were slapping each other on the back, ‘Way to be,’ ‘Way to go.’ And it being a high scoring game made it even better. It’s definitely a friendly rivalry. There are some rivals out there that aren’t friendly, but I’d say us and Clarion are friendly rivals. Fun game, fun game.

“Good luck to the Clarion Bobcats. I hope they win their way through the playoffs, (the two schools) go to the D-9 Championship game and show the Northern teams who’s boss.”
Ian Corbett: “The line started to push towards the end of the game. We were running up the middle. We had that all day. That really helped us out. It was fun. The line had a big push, in the second half up the middle. Once we started moving. They couldn’t stop us.”

(On the rivalry) “This is a friendly rivalry. We know a bunch of them so it’s a good time.”

Taylor Smith: “It was fun; it was close; it was a good time. Redbank played us hard. I was surprised. We put up a lot of points. They put up a lot of points and we were just able to pull it out.”

“Ethan made a heck of a catch (the touchdown grab). That was a really nice catch. The line was great tonight. I don’t think I got touched tonight. They gave me a lot of time to get the pass off. (Destin) really had a good game and Ian, 397 yards, that’s crazy.”

Destin Strauser: “It felt good. Got the ball a little bit and I had a little pep talk with the team coming out at halftime, and I said, ‘Put the pedal down and don’t let ‘er up, ‘cause that’s exactly what we need some hard running.’ Like I said last week, ‘It’s smash mouth football.’ That’s what it’s all about, opening it up and seeing who is the real boss out there and give a heck of an effort to our line, making big holes for Ian and me to run; it’s a great experience out there tonight.

“Jake’s a heck of an athlete. He can pick us apart out there. Our secondary, I felt really bad, I kind of got on them a time or two, but when it came down to business, when we needed to make it happen, it was all good.

“But I give a shout out to Jake because he’s one heck of a quarterback. I don’t think I’ve ever faced one better.

“Big shout out and thanks to all the fans that came out. Thanks for staying with us and supporting us the whole way and never giving up. We play as a team and that’s it.”

Some additional, key Bobcat Stats: Strauser – 7 carrries for 63 yards, 9 tackles; Smith – 4 of 9 passing, 90 yards; Luke Nellis – 14 tackles, 1 sack; Colton Rapp – 12 tackles, 4 carries for 26 yards; Corbett – 5 tackles, 2 sacks; Straffin – 2 receptions for 38 yards, 4 tackles, 1 sack; Spencer Miller – 9 tackles; Plummer 8 tackles, 3 carries for 15 yards; Troutman 9 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 carries for 37 yards.

Some additional, key Bulldog Stats: Hornberger – 10 catches for 155 yards; Conner Shoemaker – 4 catches for 139 yards; Nick Shoemaker – 5 catches for 54 yards, 9 tackles; Brylee Shumaker – 19 tackles; Wyatt Hetrick – 10 tackles.

(Thanks to Matt Buchanan for spotting and taking notes and to Bri Nellis, of Bri Nellis Photography, for the photos for this articles.)

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