Clarion blanks Cameron County, will play in 8th D9 title game
Written by: Josh Funk on Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
BROCKWAY, Pa. – When the Clarion Area Bobcats’ 2009 football season concludes, so will the 20+ year career of its coach, Larry Wiser.
But the 144-game winner’s career has lived to see another week. It was Cameron County’s three-year, 33-6 overall record that was cut short.
“They’ve got a good football team,” said Cameron County head coach John Fragale. “The stuffed our running game. They played tough on defense and took our offense away.”
Clarion Area (9-3) didn’t allow Cameron County (10-2) to complete a pass and forced a couple of key first half turnovers for an 18-0 victory in a District 9 Class “A” semi-final from Brockway High School’s Frank Varischetti Field.
With the victory, the Bobcats will advance to their eighth District 9 championship game in school history and face Coudersport, a 28-21 winner over Curwensville, Saturday at 1 p.m. in Brockway. Clarion’s last, and lone, district title victory came in 1997.
The Raiders and the Bobcats were pitted in last year’s D9 “A” title game, which Cameron County won, on the same field, 18-8. The roles were flip-flopped on this day.
The Raiders busted loose on their initial possession for two first downs, but quarterback Jason Blose was intercepted by Cody Renninger on a third-and-short play, and the Bobcats converted the gift to points.
Bubba Rue’s 16-yard run gave Clarion a 6-0 lead, thanks in part to two Dan Walters passes to Renninger spanning 26 yards on the drive, which ate over four minutes off of the game clock.
Both teams stalled offensively from that point. Cameron County couldn’t muster much in its mix of option and power sets, and Clarion’s rotation of quarterbacks between Walters and Brandon Heeter likewise stalled. CC’s Brett Malize intercepted a Heeter pass late in the first quarter, but the Raiders could do nothing with it.
Doomsday struck the red and white right before halftime. After forcing a Clarion punt, Cameron County took over at its own 26 yard line hoping to run out the clock. But Blose lateralled the ball, and it was tipped backward by Gavin Griffin and recovered by Rue.
Two plays later, Walters found Renninger from three yards out, extending Clarion’s lead to 12-0.
“That was a big, big, big play,” Wiser said.
Cameron County ended the half with a couple of Andy Lippert first down runs, but couldn’t dent the scoreboard. The Raiders had 90 yards of offense in the first half, all rushing.
But Clarion wasn’t about to play ball control and salt the game away. The Bobcats got the ball to start the second half, and came out with a balanced attack.
Wiser’s mentality was one of, “We’re not going to go out and lose this game. We’re going to go out and win it.”
Heeter’s one-yard keeper pushed the Bobcats’ lead to 18-0. On the drive, which spanned 10-play, 60-yard, 3:56 drive, the orange and black had six runs and four passes. All four passes were Heeter completions.
“That was probably the most balanced drive we’ve had all year,” Wiser said. “I think that was a statement there. A big statement.”
Cameron County put a drive together on its ensuing possession to the Bobcat 10 yard line, but Blose was sacked on fourth down.
Clarion used two long drives, of 6:41 and 5:33, respectively, to help kill the clock. After that long drive, Cameron County only ran six more plays the entire game and registered one first down – a Lippert 16-yard run with less than a minute left in the game.
Clarion finished with 283 yards of offense – 143 rushing, 140 passing. Rue led the way with 65 yards on 21 carries. Kris Burkhart added 31 yards on six carries and Kevin Grejda 38 yards on eight attempts. Walters was a perfect 4-of-4 for 40 yards; Heeter was 5-of-9 for 100 yards. Renninger caught seven passes for 97 yards.
Cameron County didn’t fare so very well. The Raiders were limited to just 112 yards of offense, all rushing, and didn’t complete a pass the entire game. Lippert, a 1,300-yard rusher, led the way with 56 yards on 16 carries. Tanner Johnson had eight carries for 31 yards, and Blose was 0-for-4 with an interception and ran for 28 yards on 12 carries.
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