By Craig Butler
MILL HALL, Pa. –The Clearfield Bison saw their state playoff run come to an end with a 44-7 loss to District 2 champion Berwick in the PIAA Quarterfinals Friday night at Central Mountain High School.
Berwick held a 14-7 lead and the ball with just 15 seconds to play in the first half when CJ Curry threw a pass that was batted by Clearfield’s Seth Caldwell into the arms of teammate Nick Kovalick to give the Bison the ball back at their own 45. After Christian Lezzer’s first down pass was batted away, he under threw Tyler Stratton on second down and the Bulldog’s Dain Kowalski intercepted the pass and took it back 75 yards to give Berwick a 21-7 lead at the break.
The Bison got the ball out of the break and moved the ball well aided by a 19-yard connection between Lezzer and Wyatt Flanagan and a 15-yard personal foul on the Bulldogs. With Clearfield on the doorstep Mason Vandermark forced Stratton to fumble at the 1-yard line and the Bulldogs pounced on it ending the Clearfield threat.
On the ensuing Berwick drive the Bulldogs marched 99 yards all on the ground capped by a 12-yard scamper by Kowalski to push the lead out to 29-7 and the Bulldogs never looked back.
After the Bison went three and out on their next drive, Berwick tacked on insurance when Curry found Ian Mazonkey running wide open down the seam for a 36-yard touchdown with 3:12 to play in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs final score came at the 5:30 mark in the fourth quarter when Curry broke off a 70 yard scamper around the right end to set the final at 44-7.
Clearfield got on the board first after the cashing in on a short field after Ryan Lezzer intercepted Curry at the Berwick 40-yard line and returned it to the Bulldog 19. The Bison made short work covering the 19 yards with five run plays finished by a Christian Lezzer four yard rush putting Clearfield up 7-0.
The Bulldogs answered right back with a 13-play 66-yard scoring drive of their own with Curry and Kowalski combining for 51 yards on 10 rushes with Curry getting the touchdown on a four yard run to even the score at 7-7.
On Clearfield’s next possession Christian Lezzer threw an interception on second down giving the ball right back to Berwick at its own 27. After four running plays pushed the ball out to the Bulldog 47-yard line Curry hooked up with Andrew Force on 48-yard strike to the Clearfield 5-yard line. Curry finished the drive with a two yard touchdown run to give Berwick a 14-7 with 5:02 to play in the first half.
The Bulldogs gave the Bison a taste of their own medicine finishing the game with 321 yards on the ground while attempting just seven passes. Curry led the way with 13 rushes for 146 yards and three touchdowns while also completing four passes for 105 yards and a score. Kowalski also went over 100 yards with 120 on 19 carries while also having the 75-yard pick six.
Stratton led the Clearfield offense with 102 yards on 17 carries. Christian Lezzer finished the game with 15 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown while going 3-of-11 through the air for 31 yards and a pair of interceptions.
The Bison finish the season 13-1 for the second time in four years. Clearfield finished 13-1 in 2010 when they lost in the PIAA Quarterfinals to Allentown Central Catholic.
BERWICK 44, CLEARFIELD 7
Score by Quarter
Berwick 0 21 16 7 — 44
Clearfield 7 0 0 0 — 7
C- Christian Lezzer 4 run (Spencer Herrington kick), 3:39
B- CJ Curry 4 run (Oliva Seeley kick), 9:35
B- Curry 3 run (Seeley kick), 5:02
B- Dain Kowalski 75 interception return (Seeley kick), 0:00
B- Ian Mazonkey 36 pass from Curry (Jordan Stout run), 1:58
B- Curry 70 run (Seeley kick), 5:30
First Downs 17 16
Rushes-Yards 44-321 44-230
Passing: Comp-Att-Int 4-7-2 4-14-2
Passing Yards 105 61
Total Yards 426 291
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Punts-Avg. 1-49.0 2-34.5
Penalties-Yards 4-40 4-35
RUSHING– Berwick: CJ Curry 13-146, Dain Kowalski 19-120, Jordan Stout 7-27, Kyle Trenholm 4-22, Ian Mazonkey 1-6. Clearfield: Tyler Stratton 17-102, Christian Lezzer 15-63, Seth Caldwell 8-35, Erik Sellers 1-18, Seth Ford 3-12.
PASSING– Berwick: CJ Curry 4-for-7, 105 yards, 1 TD. Clearfield: Christian Lezzer 3-for-11, 31 yards, Erik Sellers 1-for-3, 30 yards.
RECEIVING– Berwick: Andrew Force 1-48, Ian Mazonkey 1-36, Paul Wiegand 1-12, Kyle Trenholm 1-9. Clearfield: Ryan Lezzer 1-30, Wyatt Flanagan 2-22, Seth Ford 1-9.
INTERCEPTIONS– Berwick: Dain Kowalski (2). Clearfield: Nick Kovalick.