Bobcats Down Kane, Take Over Sole Possession Of D9 League Large School Division (09/29/19)

(Photo by Mike Smith) Mitch Knepp, Cutter Boggess and Ben Smith

“The blueprint for stopping Clarion so far this season has been relatively simple: slow down running back Austin Newcomb and you have a chance.

“The problem – as Kane found out Friday night – is that the Bobcats are more than a one-man show, and can do damage in a variety of other ways on offense.”

That assessment was from Anthony Sambrotto, who covered the Cats’ 47-28 win over the Kane Wolves, on their homecoming, on Friday night, in his article in the Saturday edition of the Bradford Era on. And it pretty much says what Clarion fans, who have attended the now 6-0 Bobcats’ games this season, have figured out.

Newcomb, in spite of fighting through an injury, Austin still rushed for 156 yards on 18 carries, scoring two touchdowns.

But when Newcomb wasn’t handling the ball, the Bobcat Train just kept chugging along. Cutter Boggess carried 14 times for 80 yard and Colton Zacherl ran the ball 12 times for seventy-two yards.

And when the Bobcats weren’t running the ball, the passing game was piling up yardage and points. Signal caller Cal German threw for 180 yards, going 7-for-11, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Ethan Burford caught 4 of those passes, for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter Craddock caught the other touchdown pass.

No, this was as all the Bobcats’ games so far, a team effort, on offense and defense. And though the Bobcats, who were ranked number 7 in the Pennsylvania Football News State Rankings and number 10 in the Harrisburg Patriot News State Rankings heading into the game, they had a formidable foe in the Wolves, who also came into the game undefeated, and ranked number ten by PFN.

On the first play from scrimmage of the game, Hunter Craddock caused a Kane fumble which was recovered by Keidon Smith at the Wolves’ fifteen. Colton Zacherl took a handoff off tackle on the left side, through a nice hole, and ran untouched into the endzone. With Beau Verdill’s successful point after kick, the Cats led 7-0 at 11:41 of the first quarter.

Kane’s kicker Aaron Hottel had a great attempt on a 40 yard field goal, that just went under the bar, at 6:01 of the first, giving the Cats possession at their own twenty-one.

The ensuing five play drive was capped by a beautiful 45 yard touchdown pass from German to Burford. German layed the ball in perfectly to Burford, who took the ball in stride along the left sideline, at the eleven and ran it in. Verdill was successful again, giving the Cats a 14-0 lead, at 4:27.

The defense, which was solid all night, got another turnover On the Wolves’ first play, after the ensuing kickoff, the Clarion defense which was solid all night, came up with another turnover. Linebacker Ben Smith put a hard hit on the ball carrier popping the ball out, which was recovered by Keidon Smith (his second recovery of the game), at the Kane twenty-five, with 4:14 left in the first.

The Bobcats proceeded on a five play drive, finished off when Newcomb ran over the middle, behind a great block by Tyler Schmader, from four yards out. The point after failed and the Cats’ led 20-0, at 1:20 of the first.

Kane marched down the field on their next possession. And with the ball at the Bobcat thirty-three, quarterback Zuke Smith hit Caleb Holt with a nice pass down the right side to the Bobcat four yard line. On the next play running back Jake Alcorn ran the ball in. Hottel’s kick was good and the Clarion lead was cut to 20-7 with just four seconds gone in the second quarter.

The Wolves refused to lay down and their defense came up big. Defensive lineman Jake Costanzo caused a fumble, at the Clarion forty-four. Fellow lineman Reece Novosel scooped it up and ran untouched down the middle of the field for the touchdown. The point after failed, but Kane was back in the game, trailing just 20-13, with 9:39 left in the half.

Clarion answered by driving down the field from their own twenty-nine, all on the ground on runs by Newcomb, Zacherl and Boggess. The drive was sealed when Zacherl ran off tackle-right, through a nice hole and into the endzone. Verdill’s kick was good and the Bobcats were in front by fourteen, 27-13, with 7 minutes left in the half.

But the Wolves would score just forty-seven seconds before halftime, when Smith dropping back to pass, decided to tuck the ball away and ran around right end for a fifteen yard touchdown. Hottel’s kick was good and the Cats’ held just a 27-20 lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

Clarion scored at 9:15 of the third, when German fired a pass over the middle, just over the fingertips of leaping Kane defender, Bobby Rumcik at the goal and into Craddock’s arms a couple yards in the endzone. With Verdill’s kick Clarion led 34-20 at the 4:40 mark of the third.

The touchdown was set up on a great thirty-eight yard run by Newcomb, two plays prior.

The Cats held Kane on downs at the Clarion twenty-four, at :39 of the third.

On the very next play, German hit Burford along the right side line, six yards deep. Burford spun away from the grasp of one defender at the Clarion thirty-five and got away from another with a stiff arm at the Clarion forty-nine, then he turned on the jets and outran everyone to the endzone. The kick was good and the Cats’ lead moved to 41-20, with twenty-six seconds left in the quarter.

After Clarion punt, Kane drove down the field from their own forty-nine, for a score. Smith hit Holt with a “lazer” in the middle of the endzone from five yards out for the score, with 7:14 left in the game. Holder Harley Morris gathered in a high snap and found Alcorn on the back right side of the endzone for two, closing the gap to 41-28, Cats.

Newcomb scored Bobcats’ final touchdown going through traffic on the left, from twenty-seven yards out at 2:01, setting the 47-28 final.

This game, had everything you could want, big play offenses and strong defenses from both teams, hard hitting, all in front of a huge crowd… and a Bobcat win.

Kane Key stats: Zuke Smith threw completed 10 of 20 passes for 156 yards, with the touchdown and no interceptions. interceptions; Caleb Holt caught 3 passes for 67 yards. Rumcik had 3 receptions for 45 yards and Race had 65 yards on seven carries.

The Bobcats had a 467 – 275 advantage in total yardage. The Cats ran the ball 50 times for 287 yards. The Wolves ran 31 times for 119 yards. Clarion completed 7-of-11 passes for 180 yards, while Kane completed 10-of-20 passes for 156 yards.

Newcomb has 937 rushing yards for the season. His combined Clarion-Limestone and Clarion Area totals (unofficially) stand at 3,900 (327 in 2017 and 2,627 in 2018).

German has 1,113 passing yards this season, sixth all-time on the Clarion all-time single season list; his 16 touchdowns place him fourth on that list. German has 1,436 career passing yards. His 23 career touchdown place him fourth on the Bobcats’ all-time list, just ahead of the Bevevino brothers, Ben and Adam who each have twenty-one.

Burford has 719 receiving yards this season and his 1,008 career reception yards is third all-time, right behind current Bobcat assistant Camron Kirkland. He is second in career receiving touchdowns, with seventeen.

Burford has 11 touchdowns this season, one off of the standard held by three former Bobcats, Cody Hearst (2013), Sam Minich (2018) and his brother Ty Burford (2016). Burford’s 17 career touchdowns, puts him in second place just four behind Hearst’s twenty-one (2011-13).

CAT QUOTES: Mitch Knepp: (On the Bobcat defense shutting Kane down in the middle) Just working as a team, doing what our coaches are asking us to do. (We were) just doing our jobs and playing together.

(On Kane being the best team the Cats have faced so far) Definitely, definitely. The coaching of that team is great. It was just a battle of execution. And thankfully, I think we were able to execute what we needed to do more than they could.

It’s a great time playing out there with my brothers.

Cutter Boggess: (On getting a large number of tackles) I don’t really know how to explain it. It just worked out that way I guess.

Ben Smith: When everyone does what they’re supposed to, good things happen. And the good thing just happened to (Cutter) tonight.

(On Kane) They are very good. We’re going to see them again, I imagine. I feel like they could make a good run also.

Coach Wiser: Obviously, as defensive coordinator, I was pleased with the big turnovers at the beginning of the game, and then the kind of bend but not break defense, in the second half. So I say that overall was big.

There was a real key turnover was in the third quarter. We turned around and got some points out of it. Basically, at that point, and they came back and scored one there on two passes.

I thought our defense did a good job. We had to make some adjustments where we just didn’t match up well, sometimes. Their quarterback did a nice job pulling the ball down at times. We got good pressure again this week. Our kids have been doing an excellent job. I don’t know how many sacks we’ve had this year, but they’ve been doing a good job putting pressure on the quarterback.

They were a kind of run first team in a lot of ways, the formations they came out in. So I think, getting that early lead forced them in to throwing more than probably they have in the past. That allowed us to do some things defensively, that helped us.

Offensively Austin had a sore ankle and was real cutty there. Cutter ran the ball, Colton Zacherl did a good job.

All the way up and down, there’s mistakes we made, on both sides of the ball, we’ll need to work on and get better. We want to become a better football team.

We’ll take the win and really enjoy it tonight.

A question somebody just asked me: We were 6-0 last year. What do you do? Stay healthy, is one thing. And two we don’t hear the white noise.

Clarion will travel to Ridgway on Friday (October 4th), for another key District Nine League – Large School Division game.

(Thanks to Mike Smith for the photo. Keep it going, Cats!!!!)