#3 Richland Tops Clearfield in Hard-Hitting Game

Tagged under: District 6, District 9, Gameday Hub, News, pfn

Phil Myers | October 14, 2023

The Richland Rams, ranked third in AA in the most recent PFN poll, started slow, picked up momentum as the game wore on, and made a couple of plays late that enabled them to hold on and earn a hard-fought 35-28 victory over the Clearfield Bison at Herlinger Field in Richland Friday night.  Winning Coach Brandon Bailey said, “It’s Friday the 13th.  Weird stuff happened all night.  Appreciate our kids continue to battle and hats off to Clearfield for the same battle they brought.  They’re a really good football team.”

Things started off slow for Richland and fast for Clearfield.  On the second play after the opening kick, Will Domico intercepted an errant Richland Ram pass giving the Bison field position at the Richland 29.  Following a 9-yard pass, Brady Collins took the handoff, raced around the left and down the sideline for the 20-yard touchdown less than a minute into the game.

Richland’s next possession went three and out.  The punt by Evan McCracken travelled 54 yards to the Clearfield seven where it was downed.  The Bison again moved the ball getting 2 first downs to their 29 before they were forced to punt.  Then, possibly the play of the game happened.  Ram lineman, Ethan Janidlo, blocked the Clearfield punt, scooped up the loose ball, and scored on a three-yard waltz into the end zone to tie the game at seven.  This is how Janidlo described the play, “So right off the bat, I knew they didn’t have a guy to block me, so I sprinted right in and laid out for it, then I turned around and made sure nobody else would pick up the ball, so I picked it up.”

Coach Bailey stated, “We were in a funk offensively and had a hard time getting into a rhythm.  Fortunately, that blocked punt by Ethan Janidlo was a big play and got the momentum moving in our favor.”  The offensive funk continued the next two series for Richland though also as they punted and fumbled the ball away on successive drives.  The defense is where the momentum picked up as the Ram ‘D’ on forced a Bison punt after Clearfield reached midfield, then forced another punt, and finally stopped the visitors on fourth down at the Richland 30 after the Rams fumbled.

The game changed for the Ram offense on their 5th try as Coach Bailey and his staff found some things that were working and stayed with them.  Ram quarterback, Dom Shank, completed a 28-yard pass to Austin Yarnick to give Richland its first 1st down of the game.  That was followed up with McCracken or Shank running the ball as the Rams moved steadily down field.  They ran on nine successive plays after the pass and scored touchdown #2 when McCracken bulled in from the 3-yard line.  Later the Rams capped off a 64-yard drive when Yarnick caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Shank with only 24 seconds left in the half.  That made the score 21-7 Richland at the half.

McCracken with TD to give Richland the 14-7 lead with 3:30 left till half. @PaFootballNews @rhsfootball @Bison__Football

— Phil Myers Sr. (@Protime_PFN) October 13, 2023

The third quarter ended with no scoring, but Richland threatening.  And so, the eerie 4th quarter began with Shank running for a 5-yard touchdown giving Richland a seemingly insurmountable lead at 28-7.  For Clearfield the spark that gave them momentum came not from the offense, but the defense.  Following a stop of Clearfield on downs at the Richland 33, the Rams elected to throw a out pass, but Bison Carter Freeland stepped in front of it and ran 65 yards for the pick six cutting the lead to 28-14.

The Bison defense forced a punt.  This is where Clearfield got another break when a low snap caused the punter, McCracken, to bend down to retrieve the ball and when he did so, his knee touched the ground giving the Bison excellent field position at the Richland Ram 42.  On the fourth play of the drive Freeland snared a pass from Domico and scored a 15-yard TD.  Now the deficit for Clearfield was only seven points, 28-21, and there were still six minutes remaining.

Domico (far right in white) has ball and looks to throw. Domico had two TD tosses for the game for Clearfield’s Bison.

McCracken and the Rams answered the bell when he outran the Clearfield team down the sideline to score a 67-yard touchdown.  “They blocked for me and I hit the corner and started to run,” he said with a smile.  That gave the Rams some breathing room, but the game was still not over by a long shot.

Clearfield drove 59 yards in 6 plays to score with three and a half minutes left on a Domico to Collins 17-yard pass.  Lady luck found the Bison again as the defense poked the ball away from McCracken near midfield to give Clearfield a chance to tie the game or take the lead.  This is where Richland’s defense regrouped and pushed Clearfield back 8 yards in three plays and forced intentional grounding on 4th down.  The Richland offense took a knee and this one was in the books.

Players of the game for Richland. On left #68, Ethan Janidlo and on right #6 Evan McCracken.

Stat wise, for Richland, Shank was 10 for 17 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown.  He also threw 2 interceptions.  McCracken ran the ball 29 times for 149 yards.  Clearfield did a nice job holding the speedster in check as he only had one run greater than seven yards and that was his 67-yard touchdown jaunt.  “This was one of the most, if not the most, intense game I ever played in,” stated McCracken.  For Clearfield, Domico was 12 for 30 passing accounting for 154 yards and a pair of TD tosses.  Freeland caught seven passes for 89 yards and a score.  Richland outgained Clearfield 309 yards to 237 for the game.

Score by Quarters:

Clearfield – 7 0 0 21 – 28

Richland – 7 14 0 14 – 35

Scoring Summary:

First Quarter:

C – Brady Collins 19-yard run, (Warren Diethrick PAT), 10:24

R – Ethan Janidlo 3-yard run on blocked punt, (Noah Ritko PAT), 3:59

Second Quarter:

R – Ethan McCracken 3-yard run, (Ritko PAT), 3:30

R – Austin Yarnick 15-yard pass from Dom Shank, (Ritko PAT), 0:24

Third Quarter:

No Scoring

Fourth Quarter:

R – Shank 5-yard run, (Ritko PAT), 11:58

C – Carter Freeland 65-yard interception, (Diethrick PAT), 9:24

C – Freeland 15-yard pass from Will Domico, (Diethrick PAT), 6:05

R – McCracken 67-yard run, (Ritko PAT), 5:01

C – Collins 17-yard pass from Domico, (Diethrick PAT), 3:31

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