ROARING SPRING - At halftime Friday night, the Central football team totaled 280 yards of offense on its way to a 20-14 lead against Clearfield in a battle of 2-0 teams. And then, just one quarter later, it was all gone.
Behind the running of Christian Lezzer and Tyler Stratton, along with a stout performance from its offensive and defensive lines, Clearfield took over in the second half, outscoring the Scarlet Dragons 21-0 en route to a 35-20 victory.
Stratton finished with 186 yards on 31 carries, while Lezzer, a senior verbally committed to Boston College, totaled 172 yards on 28 carries. For the game, Central gave up 355 yards on 62 carries.
"They blocked us and we were not able to block them ... it was pretty obvious to me what happened," Central coach Dave Baker said of the second half. "We couldn't stop them. We didn't put up a lot of offense in the second half, but then again, we couldn't get the ball from them."
Lezzer got things started in the second half with a 25-yard kickoff return to midfield. Three plays later, Stratton scored on a 45-yard run. Spencer Herrington's PAT made it 21-20.
The only punt of the game took place four plays later after Central went three-and-out. The Dragons watched Clearfield go 54 yards in seven plays, this time scoring on a Lezzer 4-yard touchdown run for a 28-20 lead.
"He's such an outstanding athlete," Clearfield coach Tim Janocko said of his quarterback. "He and Stratton ... we have a great 1-2 punch."
On its next drive, Central went from its 40 down to the Clearfield 34, but wound up turning the ball over when Seth Caldwell picked off the Dragons' Austin Cunningham. The Bison then went on a 17-play, 76-yard drive that carried over into the fourth quarter. Stratton scored from 9 yards out with 8:27 left.
The Dragons' last chance to make a game of it came at the 5:00 mark. On a fourth-and-11 play from the 19, Central's Noah Benton went back to pass but was unloaded on by Lezzer, who rushed the passer from his linebacking position.
"He just keeps coming at you," Baker said of Lezzer.
Central, which moved the ball at will in the first half, was held to just 20 yards of offense in the third quarter and 44 yards in the second half.
"I think we made a few adjustments, played a little better, handled their pressure a little better," Janocko said. "But my hat's off to them. They are a great football team, but I think we started to wear them down. Our offensive line did a nice job."
Cunningham, who rushed for 153 yards on 14 carries but only 15 in the second half, threw a 48-yard touchdown to Adam Frederick in the first quarter. Combined with Bradi Moore's 2-yard touchdown run, Central led 14-7 after one, but could have had more, except for a turnover at the Clearfield 10.
Tied at 14-14 early in the second, thanks to a Stratton 2-yard run, Zac Emerick put Central up 20-14 with 7:46 to play in the first half on a 9-yard run. The two-point pass attempt failed. It was the last time Central would lead.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield7 7 14 7 - 35
Central14 6 0 0 - 20
CL-Stratton 50 pass from Lezzer (Herrington kick), 7:17
C-Frederick 48 pass from Cunningham (kick failed), 5:40
C-Moore 2 run, (Ponder pass from Cunningham), 3:41
CL-Stratton 2 run (Herrington kick), 10:15
C-Emerick 9 run (pass failed), 7:46
CL-Stratton 42 run (Herrington kick), 10:35
CL-Lezzer 19 run (Herrington kick), 6:01
CL-Stratton 9 run (Herrington kick), 8:27
RUSHING: Clearfield-Stratton 31-186, Lezzer 28-172, TEAM 3-(-3). Central-Cunningham 14-153, Emerick 3-33, Conrath 4-6, Moore 3-8, Benton 1-2.
PASSING: Clearfield-Lezzer 2-6-1-75. Central-Cunningham 4-13-1-83, Benton 1-3-1-39, Moore 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Clearfield-Stratton 1-50, Lansberry 1-25. Central-Frederick 1-48, Cunningham 1-39, Emerick 1-22, Moore 1-12, Mock 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Clearfield-Caldwell, Wingate. Central-Cunningham.