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Clarion dominates Coudersport to move to D9 title game

Written by: 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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