Clarion dominates Coudersport to move to D9 title game
Written by: Josh Funk on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
BRADFORD, Pa. – During film study, Clarion Area head football coach Larry Wiser said a common theme became increasingly evident as the Bobcats began preparations for Coudersport.
“Coudy doesn’t turn the ball over,” Wiser said. “But early on, I did think they made some mistakes.”
Those blemishes allowed the Bobcats to get back to the District 9 Class A championship game.
Clarion Area (8-4) rode a strong defensive effort that limited Coudersport (9-2) to just 193 total yards of offense in a dominating 27-7 victory from Bradford High School Saturday evening.
With the victory, the Bobcats, representatives of the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference, will face high-flying Port Allegany (11-1) and 3,100-yard passer Matt Bodamer for the District 9 Class A championship game next weekend at a site and time to be determined. More than likely, the site would be Brockway High School, as Clarion is the No. 1 seed in the D9 A playoffs.
It became evident early on that the game would revolve around defense. Coudersport’s first three drives ended in some form of a turnover (a lost fumble, a turnover on downs and an interception). Following the interception, Clarion used a big pass play to grab a lead it would not relinquish.
Quarterback Brandon Heeter, who one play earlier intercepted Coudersport quarterback Tim McCusker, found junior T.J. Armstrong on a 37-yard scoring pass for a 7-0 Bobcat lead at the 2:17 mark of the first quarter. Heeter wound up throwing for 106 yards in the game, but Armstrong was just getting started offensively.
He proved to be the main cog in a Bobcat ground game which churned out 213 yards on 41 carries on the night. Armstrong scored touchdown runs of 1 yard in the second quarter and 13 yards in the third to help Clarion to a 21-7 lead and finished with 128 yards on 24 carries and the 37-yard reception. Armstrong was just as much a menace on the defensive side of the ball, having a role in at least 12 tackles, forcing a fumble and registering a sack.
“It’s great,” Armstrong said of getting back to the District 9 championship game. “It’s the second time in three years that we’ve been there.”
In all, the Bobcats finished with 319 yards of offense and 14 first downs – the last of which came emphatically on a Marcus Smerker 23-yard touchdown run with 2:29 left in the game to put the final nail in Coudersport’s coffin.
“We had a great game plan on offense and defensively, we played a great game,” Wiser said. “Aside from the penalties (Clarion committed seven for 54 yards), I was very pleased with our kids tonight.”
Coudersport, meanwhile, never quite got going offensively. While a McCusker 2-yard run broke the shutout with 4:14 left in the third quarter and capped a nine-play drive, The Falcons fumbled the ball seven times, losing two, threw two interceptions, and ended three possessions with turnovers on downs. The Falcons’ passing game was also pretty quiet – McCusker finished the game just 6-of-16 for 32 yards. Featured back Mitch Freeman finished with 65 yards on 16 carries for the Falcons.
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