Bobcat Gridders Record Big Opening Night Win Over Chucks (08/25/19)
(Above photo by Wendy Ferguson) 2019 Bobcats enter field proudly displaying “Old Glory,” in front of cheering fans.
Well, new era of Bobcat Football with Clarion-Limestone joining in the Clarion Area and North Clarion co-op. How would these guys gel, in the first game of the history making 2019 season?
Just fine. Thank you very much. The new look Bobcats downed the homestanding Punxsutawney Chucks 70-6, on Friday night (August 23rd), with players from all three schools contributing.
Coach Larry Wiser and his new coaching staff, made up of coaches from Clarion and C-L as well as Clarion alum and former Union and Union/A-C Valley head coach Dave Louder, had to be extremely pleased with the team’s dominance on both sides of the ball.
The Bobcats touchdowns on each of their ten possessions, not having to punt once. The Cats’ only failed scoring opportunity was on a blocked extra point after the first touchdown, which which was counteracted by a two-point conversion in the second quarter.
Offensively, Clarion held a 608-124 total yardage advantage, including a 471-16 advantage on the ground, with a 22-4 edge in first downs.
The Cats started their first drive at the Punxutawney 41 yard line after linebacker Ben Smith recovered a Chucks’ fumble, at the 11:00 mark of the first quarter. Several plays later Austin Newcomb, ran to the right and sandwiched his way through a host of defenders, to the left side of the endzone to score on a 21 yard run, his first of four touchdowns on the night, to make the score 6-0, at 9:18. Punxy’s Caleb Kinney broke through to block the PAT attempt.
Kicker Beau Verdill wasn’t shaken though, as he connected on each of his next eight attempts. Great job by Beau and the point after team.
Newcomb’s 5 yard scoring run, through a big hole up the middle and Verdill’s point after, at 7:51 of the first moved Clarion’s lead to 13-0. The touchdown was set up on the previous play, as Bobcat signal caller Cal German hit Ethan Burford, who out ran the defender,turned and caught the ball holding on to it, as he fell to the ground, for a thirty-nine yard gain.
Defensive tackle Tyler Schmader recovered a Chucks’ fumble at 5:12 of the first, and the Cats set up shop at the Punxy forty-six.
Two minutes and twelve seconds later, Newcomb scored his third touchdown of the evening, going around the right side and putting on a great move, cutting to the center of the field between two defenders at the five, for a 32 yard touchdown. With Verdill’s kick, Clarion led 20-0.
German and Burford hooked up on a 66 yard scoring pass, with Burford catching the ball down the left side at the Chucks 33, breaking a tackle at the fifteen and racing to the endzone, with 0:09 left in the quarter. And with the PAT, The Cats led 27-0 heading to the second quarter.
Fullback Kyle Bottaro got into the scoring parade, taking the handoff, and running through the middle of the line, breaking several tackles as he cut to the left going 29 yards to paydirt, at 8:46 of the second and then followed with the two-point conversion run, giving Clarion a 35-0 lead.
Clarion would cross the goal line once more in the half, when German and Burford hooked up for a 19 yard touchdown at 1:25. German lofted the ball down the right sideline and Burford jumped to hall the ball in and holding on, as he fell into the endzone, followed by Verdill’s extra point. And with that, the Cats took a 42-0 lead to the locker room.
German was 5-for-8 for 137 yards and two touchdowns on the night, with Burford hauling in 4 passes for 128 yards.
With a 1 yard touchdown run by running back Cutter Boggess, who followed some very good blocking by the line through the the middle of the Chucks’ defense and Verdill’s sixth point after, the Cats led 49-0 at 9:40 of the third. The touchdown was set up by a 19 yard run by slot back Colton Zacherl. Boggess finished with 51 yards on 7 carries and Zacherl carried 5 times for thirty-six yards.
Newcomb scored his final touchdown of the game, on an end around, racing down the right sideline, from 42 yards out, at 3:42 of the third. Verdill’s PAT, Clarion moved the Bobcats’ lead to 56-0.
Newcomb finished the night with 187 yards on 11 carries and one reception for nine yards. His replacement at running back, Breckin Rex also went over one-hundred yards, with finishing with 108 on 4 carries, including a 42 yard touchdown romp down the right sideline, using a nice stiff arm to break one tackle and breaking two others along the way, with 6:34 left in the game. The point after, again was good and Clarion led 63-0.
Punxy got on the board with 4:46 left, when quarterback Zeke Bennett hit wide open Seth Moore, with a pass down the middle of the field, at the midfield stripe. Moore outran the defense for the 62 yard score. The PAT failed, making the score 63-6.
Bobcat running back Alex Garduno, whose number is 27 scored on a 27 yard run down the right sideline, with 1:39 left and the reliable Verdill tacked on the point after setting the70-6 final. Garduno finished with 38 yards on three carries.
The Cats’ next game will be Friday night, as they host the Moniteau Warriors at the Clarion-Limestone field. Kickoff is set for 7:00PM.
COACH WISER: I thought, offensively and defensively, we were clicking. The kids came out and we thought they were a little flat in warmups. We were somewhat concerned about that. They were just kind of doing things in different ways at the beginning. So it just seemed a little bit awkward.
But boy, once the whistle blew, that was it. Getting that key turnover at the beginning… Then offensively; we never punted the ball. The punt team never saw the field. I give a lot of kudos to the offensive staff, Dave Eggleton and the guys for the work they did.
And I compliment Dave Louder and Lee Weber, our defensive staff and Doug Knepp our defensive line coach. We put pressure on Punxsutawney. We’re trying to get a little more physical in the secondary, which I think we did. It gives them a little more confidence in being physical.
We need some work in some areas. But you know what it is like, starting that first game of the year. You get that one under your belt.
The Junior Varsity came in there offensively. And Breckin, he’s starting to become who I think he is, what I think he can become. He kind of looked like Austin running down there. We keep talking to him in practice, “watch him (Austin), run straight” and so forth like that.
Austin came over to me, “Coach he’s not a practice player, he’s a gamer!” I’d like to get him to do both; but I’ll take his effort tonight. That was nice.
I thought the kids on the offensive line did a good job.
Overall, a good start here; this could become a good football team, if we make this a good journey each week, getting better doing the things we need to improve on.
We weren’t mistake free out there. When a team gets to the point where all eleven guys aren’t making a mistake on a play, just one or two people, you’ve got a pretty good football team.
Calvin looked good throwing the ball. Ethan made some good catches; Calvin did have to throw it to him perfectly.
AUSTIN NEWCOMB: We made a couple of big runs. Then when they started keying on me big time, we just hit Ethan deep. But that was just about it; we were back and forth, running the ball.
Our defense really stepped up tonight and made some big plays.
Our line, big shout out to them. I know, without them, I can’t do it. But it all goes to them.
(On kids from the three schools clicking together, as a team) Oh yeah, that was the big thing. We went to camp. That was our first real time with all of us being together and that really helped out. We’re like all brothers together out here.
TYLER SCHMADER: It all started like at the end of June. We just kept going on and on and on. Then Lycoming Camp hit; we got closer and closer and closer. Then double days hit and the line got closer and closer and closer; we kept on repping all the plays, at least three or four times each practice. And we just kept on going and going and going. Got it all down, packed it all down. I think our line and everybody on this team is getting closer together as each minute goes by, each practice.
This team, we were coming out to really beat them. It is our first time as a team and we wanted to show them that we are here to play and we’re not backing down.
(Thanks to Nate McClaine for spotting and formulating game details, to Wendy Ferguson for her photos, to the Tri-County Sunday for various game stats, the TCS and the Punxutawney Spirit for some clarifications. WAY TO GO, CATS!!!!)