Information for this story provided by Ann Butler and Andy Brickley
By Chris Rossetti
HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. – Tyler Stratton and Christian Lezzer provided the offense, and the Clearfield defense did the rest lifting the Bison to their first District 5-6-8-9 Class AAA sub-regional title with a 21-6 win over Somerset Friday night at Hollidaysburg High School.
Lezzer and Stratton combined to run for 303 yards and two touchdowns with Lezzer also throwing a touchdown pass, and the Bison defense forced four turnovers in the victory.
“It’s huge,” Christian Lezzer said of wining the sub-regional title. “This is what we work for. We had a great game plan and executed it to perfection tonight. There isn’t a single guy you can point out. Everyone played good and did their job. That’s all that matter.”
The victory was extra sweet for the Bison, who last in last year’s sub-region title game, 36-22, to University Prep out of District 8.
“Obviously coming into the game, we had last year on our mind,” Lezzer said. “We felt we got upset last year. All our hard work was to get back to this game and finish. We did just that tonight, and we’re looking forward to taking it one step at a team with a good team in Jersey Shore up next.”
Clearfield will face Jersey Shore, a 20-16 winner over Selinsgrove in the District 4 title game, next week at a site, time and day to be determined in the PIAA playoffs.
Friday night saw Bison (12-0) take a 14-0 halftime lead thanks to a 28-yard Christian Lezzer pass to younger brother, Ryan, and an 11-yard Stratton touchdown run before Somerset got within eight late in the third quarter on a touchdown run by Tanner Stull.
But Lezzer muscled his way into the end zone from a yard out on a fourth-and-goal play with 6:11 to play to put Clearfield up two scores, and Stratton picked off a Somerset pass at the Clearfield 1-yard line with just under two minutes to play to seal the victory.
Clearfield broke a scoreless tie late in the first quarter when Christian Lezzer hit Ryan Lezzer with the touchdown pass to save what was starting to look like a disastrous sequence for the Bison.
The Bison had first-and-10 from the Somerset 13, but a holding penalty and a delay of game left Clearfield facing second-and-25 from the 28.
Somerset looked like it was going to have a chance to tie the game early in the second quarter after a bad Clearfield punt set the Eagles up at the Bison 38. But Jake Wingate came to the rescue with his team-leading sixth interception of the season at the Bison 38.
Later in the quarter, Wingate was Johnny on the spot recovering a Somerset fumble at the Eagles 39-yard line.
That set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Stratton with 5:45 left in the opening half putting Clearfield ahead 14-0.
The big play of the drive was a 34-yard Lezzer run to the Somerset 6-yard line.
Ryan Lezzer then put an end to another Somerset drive with an interception at the Clearfield 24 late in the half.
Trailing by 14 in the third quarter, it was the Somerset defense that came up with a big play stopping Clearfield on fourth-and-5 at the Eagle 20-yard line with 7:39 left in the quarter. Then on the Bison’s next possession, Christian Lezzer was interception at the Somerset 23.
That interception set up Somerset’s lone score of the game on a touchdown run by Stull with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. A personal foul on Clearfield helped the Eagles drive along. The extra point was blocked leaving the Bison up 14-6 heading to the fourth quarter.
Midway through the quarter, Clearfield looked to be in good shape to extend the lead by Stratton was hauled down at the Somerset 1-yard line following a 35-yard run. But the Eagles defense stiffened setting up the fourth-and-goal. But Christian Lezzer broke Somerset’s back when he fought his way into the end zone for the touchdown.
NOTES – Lezzer ran 27 times for 182 yards, while Stratton ran 21 times for 121 yards. The yardage puts Lezzer over 4,000 career yards and he is the sixth known player in District 9 history to go over 4,000 career rushing yards. The touchdown also was the 70th of his career, the fifth-known District 9 player to record 70 career touchdowns … This was the second year of the District 5-6-8-9 sub-regional … Prior to Friday night, a District 9 team had never won a combined District or sub-regional championship that included other districts going 0-2 in Class AAAA combined championship games (0-3 now after DuBois’ loss to Mifflin County Friday night) and 0-1 in Class AAA combined district championship games.
CLEARFIELD 21, SOMERSET 6
Score by Quarters
Somerset 0 0 6 0 – 6
Clearfield 7 7 0 7 – 21
C – Ryan Lezzer 28 pass from Christian Lezzer (Spencer Herrington kick), 2:45
C – Tyler Stratton 11 run (Herrington kick), 5:25
S – Tanner Stull run (Kick blocked), :15
C – C. Lezzer 1 run (Herrington kick), 6:11
TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL STATS WILL BE POSTED SATURDAY OR SUNDAY