SPRING MILLS, CENTRE COUNTY Pa. (WTAJ)– In 2019, the Clearfield Bison and Penns Valley Rams (both in the Mountain League) played a shoot-out, high scoring game. But their week one 2020 contest at Penns Valley was one-sided.
In the first quarter, a long drive by the bison saw multiple runs and quick-out passes completed by Clearfield quarterback Oliver Billotte. Running back Mark McGonigal then bounced outside for a 9-yard run to put Clearfield on the 1-yard-line.
The following play, Billotte quick-snapped the ball and lunged past the goal line on a quarterback sneak to put the bison up 7-0.
Both Clearfield and Penns Valley stalled on their remaining possessions in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, a methodical drive by the bison was once again capped off with a Billotte TD run. This time he took a shotgun snap 7 yards away from the goal line. Billotte first looked to dart up the middle, but when ram lineman plugged the whole, Billotte bounced outside and scampered in to score, putting Clearfield up 14-0.
An interesting moment occured on the ensuing kick-off.
Senior ram receiver and returner Alex Hammer caught the return, and faked a reverse hand-off to Gage Ripka. Most of the Clearfield coverage team bit on the fake, allowing Hammer to weave past just one defender and sprint down the sideline. Clearfield’s receiver and coverage man Jake Lezzer, along with kicker Graeson Graves were on Hammer’s tail just as he was nearing the goaline. Graves made an outstretched attempt at a tackle while also pulling at the football as Hammer was on the two-yard-line.
Graves was successful in punching the ball free. The ball flew forward, ahead of Hammer, and bounced out of the end zone…thus becoming a touch-back and giving Clearfield the ball at their own 20-yard-line.
The referee on that sideline made this ruling.
Ram fans, and PV head coach Martin Tobias were originally upset by this call, which was very close (a millisecond difference between a touchdown and a touch-back).
WTAJ’s video (shown below in real-time and slow motion proves the officials made the correct call in ruling a touch-back–as the video shows the ball did squirt out before Hammer broke the plane of the goal line).
On Clearfield’s ensuing drive before halftime, Billotte found Lezzer (back from a season where he was injured last year) on a well placed 11-yard fade in the corner of the end zone.
Clearfield led 21-0 at the half.
In the second half, after the rams and bison both stalled on many drives that ate away at the clock, Billotte again found Lezzer in the end zone on a fade. This time the 6’1″ senior jumped over a defensive back to come down with the pigskin.
The rams blocked the extra point attempt.
Clearfield won 27-0.