Figure this one out. Top-ranked Skyline scored early and often in its 48-14 4A prep football semifinal victory Friday over Clearfield, but the Eagles managed only 291 yards total offense with its well-oiled wishbone attack.
If you're concerned about the Eagles' lack of offense, you can blame Skyline itself. Or more specifically, you can blame (read: credit) the Skyline defense, which blocked two punts (one for a touchdown), recovered three fumbles (one for a touchdown), intercepted three passes, and gave the Eagle offense three other eventual scoring possessions inside the Falcons' 25-yard line.For a unit that has previously professed being content with giving the ball - and much of the spotlight - to the high-powered Eagle offense, it seems like the Skyline defense got quite involved Friday afternoon at Rice Stadium.
With the scored tied 7-7 midway in the opening period, interceptions by Matt Heinecke and Ryan Barson gave Skyline possession at the Clearfield 23 and 16, respectively, setting up a pair of short-yardage TD dives by Eagle QB Joe Dupaix.
Skyline upped that lead to 27-7 in the second period, with a 16-yard Falcon punt giving the Eagles the ball on their own 44, with Dupaix zig-zagging his way to a 49-yard TD run moments later. In all, Dupaix finsihed with 89 yards and 3 TDs on 15 carries, a pair of two-point PAT runs and 3-of-5 passing (the other two passes were picked off) for 30 more yards.
Clearfield drew to within 27-14 soon after Skyline's fourth TD, as Tony Cussimanio turned a blast-up-the-middle run into an 80-yard scoring run. But the Falcons missed a chance to close the gap even closer just before intermission, when a Dustin Cummins interception gave Clearfield the ball on the Skyline 35. The Falcons made it all the way to the 13 before Cumer Palepoi, the Eagles' deaf defensive lineman, sacked Travis Leifeste with about 20 seconds, with Clearfieldunable to regroup as time expired.
As for Clearfield in the second half, the bottom fell out faster than a wet cardboard box, including nine yards gained in total offense (a game total of 222), two blocks and a bad snap recovered in the end zone by Skyline on three Falcon attempted punts and two more fumbles.
In the third period, John Frank, Matt Hansen, Heinecke and Pete Carlston combined to block a punt at the Falcon 19, setting up Hansen's second TD run - a 10-yarder. Hansen had scored on a 6-yard sweep in the first period as well.
In the fourth quarter, a snap that sailed over the Falcon punter's head was recovered in the end zone by Jon Tuengel for a touchdown. Heinecke later returned a blocked punt 3 yards for Skyline's final TD.
About the only thing that Skyline couldn't claim as a complete success was the kicking game, with Branden Jones and Greg Zander missing three PAT kicks while making one each. However, Dupaix ran for the two two-pointers, and Brian Alba booted all but one Eagle kickoff into the end zone and away from the talented return tandem of Jeff Kirkman and Jason Bremer.
Clearfield jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, scoring on a 74-yard hook-and-ladder play on the second play from scrimmage. Leifeste threw a 14-yard pass to Ryan Mortensen, with Mortensen then tossing a lateral to Kirkman, who carried the ball the final 60 yards for the score.
Skyline is now 11-1 overall, having posted point totals of 44, 50 and 48 in its three 4A playoff appearances this year. Clearfield finishes the season with an 8-4 record, making only its second trip to the 4A semifinals in the school's 20-plus years.