Bobcats Defeat Chucks In 2016 Gridiron Opener (09/04/16)
(Dave McClaine – Clarion Sports Zone – clarionsportszone.com)
The Clarion Area Bobcats opened their 2016 football campaign with a 41-0 victory, over the visiting Punxsutawney Chucks, at Memorial Stadium on Friday (September 2nd).
(All photos by Forrest Madison Mills) Bobcats’ offensive line was a force all night.
Quarterback Spencer Miller had four touchdowns, three to wide receiver Ty Burford, in the victory. The offensive line was stellar in their pass protection and in exploding off the ball and sustaining blocks, to pave the way for 286 rushing yards.
The Cats’ first score cam with 2:07 left in the first quarter, with Miller hitting Burford with a 40 yard strike, giving Clarion a 6-0 lead.
At 9:45 of second quarter, Ryley McMaster recovered a Punxy fumble, setting the Bobcats up at the opponent’s forty-five. Two plays later, Miller again found Burford, this time with a 28 yard scoring pass, moving the score to 12-0.
Spencer Miller had four touchdown passes against the Chucks
McMaster got his second turnover of the game, an interception, at the Clarion 46, with twenty-one seconds left in the half. Runs by Michael McCloskey and Colton Rapp moved the ball to the Punxy forty. Then as time ran out, Miller heaved the ball to the left side of the field near the endzone. Burford tipped the ball and McCloskey made a beautiful diving catch just inside the front of the end zone. Archer Mills tacked on the extra point and the Cats led 19-0 at intermission.
Thomas Wurster got into the scoring parade, blocking a punt in the end zone. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety, giving the Bobcats a 21-0 lead, at 5:20 of the third.
Players coming off field after a score
After the punt after the safety, Clarion had the ball back, at the Punxy twenty-nine. And after several running plays, the ball rested on the four yard line. Miller then hit Burford with Miller’s fourth and Burford’s third touchdown pass on the evening. Mills PAT moved the score to 28-0, with just under two minutes left in the third.
With his great night catching the ball, Burford, who was featured on the cover of this week’s program, proved there is no “Sports Illustrated”-esque curse associated with getting your photo on the Bobcats’ publication.
Michael McCloskey had a strong game for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats finished out the scoring in the fourth, with what may be a first for the program. Sophomore Logan Minich ran for a forty-two yard touchdown with 11:10 left to play, moving the Cats’ lead to 34-0. And then twin brother, Sam Minich had a twenty-five yard scoring run, at the 3:54 mark. This may be the first time twins have scored in the same game.
Another successful kick by Mills set the 41-0 final.
Key Bobcat Stats:
Spencer Miller – 11 of 19 passing, for 202 yards, 4 touchdowns, two interceptions, 3 carriess for 33 yards; Ty Burford – 5 receptions for 90 yards, three touchdowns; Michael McCloskey – 6 carries for 30 yards, 3 receptions for 68 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 sack; Colton Rapp – 15 carries for 72 yards, 6 tackles; Ryley McMaster – 3 carries for 33 yards, 3 receptions for 44 yards, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery; Logan Minich – 6 carries for 68 yards, 1 touchdown; Sam Minich – 1 carry for 25 yards and a touchdown. The Bobcats had 488 total yards – 286 rushing, 202 passing, while holding the Chucks to 48 total yards – 23 rushing, 25 passing.
Coach Larry Wiser: “With the exception of the penalties, I was pleased with the way we moved the ball. Of course, we shot ourselves in the foot several times, especially in the first half. But we were able to throw the ball and we were able to run the ball. We were able to run inside, we were able to run outside. We were able to throw, throw outside. There’s some things we need to obviously clean up. But defensively, I’m so proud of how the kids flew to the ball. I mean it’s just impressive to watch our kids play on defense. I’m speaking as head coach, seeing it on the sidelines. But I’m just truly amazed, the type of pressure they put on.
“But now, you get back to the drawing board and you get ready for Brookville. After a couple days off here for the kids, obviously we’ll spend our time getting ready this weekend, to get things going. I think Spence had four touchdown passes.
“What usually takes a little bit of time to get going is the passing game, the chemistry between the receivers and the quarterback. We ran a couple of gadget plays. We’re going to throw all kinds of stuff in there. But you know me, we’re going to run that ball.
“My goal was, everyone of what I call our ‘attitude’ players to do plays where we’re running dives. I think we got five yards each time. So that was one of the keys. One of the things to challenge the line.
“My coaches worked hard. My team’s worked hard up to this point. Now if we can keep the ‘we’ and stay away from ‘me,’ I like where we stand right now.”
Spencer Miller: “Offensively, I thought that the line did a great job pass blocking. I felt like I had all kinds of time to see the field and throw. My receivers did a great job catching the ball, if it was there, and if it wasn’t, they made a great effort to at least knock it down. The backs also contributed by running hard when they had the ball and carrying out the fakes on play actions.
“Defensively, I thought the front seven did a great job not only defending the run but also the pass. They didn’t really allow the quarterback any time to throw.”
Lineman Nick Cherico: “The line, we really pulled together this week. We got some of our veterans returning from last year (sophomores now playing as juniors). We’re just coming out strong this season. We’re ready.
“We made holes. The backs went right through those holes. It was great game. The scoreboard reflects that tonight.”
Michael McCloskey: “It felt great to just get back out there, opening game of the season, senior year, (dominating). Especially when D9Sports only had us win 28-21. We come out 41-0.
“We had mishaps with penalties, holding, personal fouls. We just got to get through all that. And we can work through that. We have a great team (chemistry) on this team. We have great players. We had a young line last year. They really stepped up. We have a new center, Seth Nellis. He’s really stepped up to that position. Spencer, the receivers; the passing game is huge this year. Clarion has been a ground and pound team. We’re just pounding the ball up the middle. We come out passing. We’re good this year.
“Those iso plays, coach Wiser said that’s his killer play. He said’ ‘you kill it and you run it up the middle. Block. That’s his favorite play.
“We really stepped it up (on defense). Coach Weber the new defensive coordinator, this year, I think we gave him a good defensive game, putting the quarterback down, putting the receivers down, putting the running backs down in the backfield a lot.”
Ty Burford: “Spencer really did a nice job throwing the ball and scrambling around defenders to find the open reciever. This year is a little bit different for me taking on a new leadership role as a captain.
“Scoring three touchdowns in the first game was a great start to the season but none of them would have happened without great passes from Spencer and the line and backs giving him time to pass the ball. As far as the tip play goes, Michael McCloskey never gives up on a play, and this time it payed off as he made a great break on the ball and caught the touchdown of a couple of tips.
“We are excited for the rest of the season and now it’s time to focus on Brookville Friday night.”