STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Defense has been the mantra of the Central Clarion Wildcats football team and Friday evening was no different in a 21-10 victory over DuBois on Senior Night at the Clarion-Limestone High School Sports Complex.
Central Clarion (4-4 overall, 4-3 D9 Large School) intercepted three passes while also stopping the Beavers on downs late in the contest.
“During that timeout before their fourth-down play, I told the guys it was all about pride,” said Central Clarion coach Dave Eggleton. “The guys pumped their chest out and stopped him. We just wanted to get that three-and-out and keep them out of the end zone.”
Neither team could muster much offense in the first quarter as each team turned the ball over twice. Two fumbles lost by Central Clarion, one came at the DuBois 3, and the other was recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
“We really didn’t change much defensively for the second half because we though what we were doing was working,” said Eggleton. “I feel if we didn’t have those fumbles that we could have been able to pull away a bit.”
After recovering a fumble at the DuBois 23, the Wildcats drove to the 14 before a pair of negative rushing attempts backed them up to the 20 at the end of the quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Jase Ferguson connected with Christian Simko on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Charlie Franchino added the PAT kick for a 7-0 lead just one play into the second quarter at the 11:54 mark.
Central Clarion punted twice while DuBois punted once over the next seven minutes of the contest. The Beavers took over at their own 46 before embarking on a six-play drive which ended in a Braxton Adams 32-yard touchdown run. Charlie Harman added the PAT kick to tie the game 7-7 with 3:31 to play.
Following a short punt, the Beavers took over at the Central Clarion 26-yard line. Dubois drove to the 9-yard line before Harman kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead with 38 seconds remaining.
Central Clarion took over at their own 34 and on the first play Ferguson was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled for 45 yards to the Dubois 21. Ferguson then connected with Breckin Rex on a 21-yard touchdown pass. After the Franchino PAT the Wildcats led 14-10 at halftime.
“Jase just saw there was nothing open, so he took off and got a big chunk of yards there,” said Eggleton. “Our guys are really rallying around him. He’s has just grown so much since those first few games, and he is definitely not playing like a freshman at this point.”
Turnovers and punts would rule the third quarter as neither team could crack the scoreboard. Late in the quarter, after the Wildcats took over at the Beavers 21 following a stop on fourth down, Central Clarion drove to the 2 before what would be ruled a fumble recovered by DuBois. However, a holding penalty on DuBois gave the ball back to Central Clarion, giving them a first down heading to the fourth quarter.
Six plays into the final quarter, Ferguson connected with Simko on a 23-yard touchdown pass. Franchino made the PAT kick for a 21-10 lead at the 9:10 mark.
DuBois would be stopped on downs and suffer an interception to stop two of their fourth quarter drives. Central Clarion, in trying to take time off the clock, opted to punt in DuBois territory twice, once resulting in a touchback and the other one downed at the 3.
Running a hurry-up offense, the Beavers drove from their own 3 to the Wildcats’ 1 before turning the ball over on downs after having a first-and-goal from the 5.
Central Clarion would run out the clock to preserve the victory.
“We knew coming in that DuBois was a hard-nosed football team and they had really been playing well, just like we had,” said Eggleton. “Our coaches really prepared our guys well and it was a great win for the team.”
Ferguson completed 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Simko caught seven passes for 131 yards with two scores. Tommy Smith caught one pass for 29 yards while Breckin Rex caught three passes for 28 yards with a score.
Rex also led the ground game with 63 yards on 15 carries. Ferguson rushed for 48 yards on nine attempts.
For DuBois, Cam-Ron Hays rushed 18 times for 72 yards while Braxton Adams added 68 yards on eight attempts with a touchdown.
Hays completed 10-of-26 passes for 95 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Adams caught three passes for 35 yards while Derraick Burkett caught three passes for 20 yards and Austin Mitchell two for 23.
Central Clarion will play at Clearfield next Friday.