DUBOIS, Pa. – The guys in the trenches usually do all the dirty work and don’t get any of the credit.
(Photo of Clarion’s Cal German. Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
Relisten to the game:
But Clarion quarterback Cal German wasn’t going to let that happen Saturday night.
After German threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns in Clarion’s 27-13 win over Kane in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals at DuBois’ Mansell Stadium, he was named the Hager Paving Player of the Game.
But German insisted that his five offensive linemen join him during the postgame interview – and so Mitch Knepp, Tyler Schmader, Ben Smith, Ethan Remmick and Jordan McCord-Wolbert did just that.
“Our offensive line always gives us great protection for our runs and our passes,” German said. “I really wasn’t hit too much tonight thanks to them. They opened up a ton of holes in the running game and in the passing game.”
Open up holes indeed.
Clarion gained 548 yards of total offense, ran 73 plays, had seven plays of at least 20 yards and put together drives of 15 plays, 14 plays, 12 plays and 13 plays during the game.
“The line opened some pretty gapping holes,” Clarion head coach Larry Wiser said.
The game’s final drive emptomized the dominance for the second-seeded Bobcats (10-1) upfront.
Down 14, Kane elected to punt the ball away facing a fourth-and-9 at its own 34-yard line giving Clarion the ball back with 6:18 to play.
The Wolves never saw the football again, as Clarion put together a 13-play drive that moved the ball all the way inside the Kane 5-yard line before the Bobcats took two knees to kill the clock.
“It just kind of shows that we came out here to dominate,” Smith, the senior offensive lineman from Clarion-Limestone, said. “When the line dominates, good things happen. You run the clock down and win.”
Watch the postgame interview
While the Clarion offense was dominating up front, the Clarion defense kept Kane in check the entire night.
The sixth-seeded Wolves (6-5) ran just 31 plays on the night and gained all of 59 yards.
“We had some different stunts in this week with our backers,” German said. “I thought we did a pretty good job up front and in the secondary.”
Wiser said staying disciplined was the key to the defensive success.
“I thought our guys stepped up and did a great job of staying disciplined in their gaps,” Wiser said. “I also thought they did a real good job shutting down a pretty good athlete in that Alcorn (game stud slot back Jake Alcorn).”
Clarion did control Alcorn on the offensive side of the football limiting the senior to 27 yards of total offense (4 carries, 16 yards; 1 catch 11 yards).
But Alcorn still was the reason the game was as close as the final score ended up being finding ways to score on both special teams and defense.
Alcorn opened the scoring for Kane when he returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown at the 8:13-mark of the first quarter.
Then, after Clarion answered back with a 91-yard drive that ended on a 1-yard touchdown run by Austin Newcomb – that turned out to be Newcomb’s 11th and final carry of the night (he gained 60 yards) as he left the contest with an possible concussion following the scoring run – to tie the game at 7 with 4:58 left in the first half, Alcorn struck again this time picking off a German pass and taking it 20 yards to the house to put Kane ahead, 13-7, with 3:27 left before halftime.
Clarion, though, didn’t sit on the ball after the interception.
German, who was 13 of 23 passing including going 11 of 14 for 301 yards after starting 2-for-9 for 34 yards, hit Cutter Boggess with a 48-yard pass to the Kane 27-yard line, and then two plays later hooked up with Ethan Burford on a 32-yard scoring pass to give Clarion a 14-13 halftime lead.
“He is an awesome quarterback,” Wiser said. “He has a great arm. It seems like he starts out the first half sometimes and he is not getting enough air under the ball and he makes the adjustment.”
Up one at the break, Clarion received the second-half kickoff and proceeded to go 78 yards in just five plays extending the lead to 20-13 on a 63-yard German to Burford touchdown pass. Buford finished the night with five catches for 186 yards and two scores extending his school record to 17 touchdown catches on the year. German’s three scoring tosses gives him 28 on the year.
“It was very important (to go into halftime with the lead,” German said. “We like to come out with the ball in the second half, so it worked out for us tonight.”
Clarion put the game away on its first drive of the fourth quarter – well the drive actually started on the last play of the third quarter – when the Bobcats went 80 yards in 12 plays scoring on a 1-yard German to Hunter Craddock touchdown pass with 7:39 to play.
“We controlled the clock,” Wiser said. “I think that was a key.”
Even without Newcomb for over half the game, Clarion ran for 213 yards led by Boggess, who rushed for 86 on 22 carries, including 81 after halftime. He also caught five passes for 90 yards. The Bobcats also got a lift from sophomore Cooper Shall, who added 53 yards on six carries with fellow sophomore Breckin Rex adding 12 yards on three carries.
“I can’t say enough about those two sophomore backs, especially in the second half,” Wiser said. “You want to talk about that chemistry. When you face that type of adversity (like Clarion did in the first half) that is when you need to step it up and be positive with each other. On the sideline that was one of the keys. All of the kids stayed positive.”
Clarion, which won the District 9 Class 2A title two seasons ago, will play defending champion Ridgway in the title game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Mansell Stadium. Ridgway beat the Bobcats, 42-0, Oct. 4, in Ridgway.