STRATTANVILLE — The Punxsy Chucks scored on their first four offensive possessions in the first half — including three second-quarter touchdowns — to take a 28-0 lead to halftime and went on to easily defeat Clarion-Limestone 28-0 Friday night in Strattanville.
"It's nice to get a shutout," Punxsy head coach Alan Nichol said after the game. "They tested our secondary, and we were able to keep them out of the end zone. We had three interceptions, and Luke (Janocha) did a good job keeping us lined up back there in the secondary. We started to change some coverages, and with all the receivers they had, he did a good job as a leader."
Clarion-Limestone received the opening kickoff, and the Lions picked up two quick first downs on passes from quarterback Billy Kelley to Brent Slater and Brooks Bennett.
But after a holding penalty backed the Lions up, Punxsy defensive back Luke Janocha broke up a third-down pass attempt by Kelley, forcing Limestone to punt.
Punxsy's offense didn't waste any time taking over the game, opening with a nine-play, 75-yard drive for its first score.
After picking up one first down, Punxsy quarterback connected with Clayton Dale for a 13-yard pickup, and on the very next play, halfback Alex Fedigan broke away from the Lions with a 35-yard run deep into their own territory.
Five plays later, Fedigan punched the ball into the end zone on a third-and-goal from the one-yard line.
Kicker Christian Falgout's extra point gave Punxsy a 7-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
Limestone attempted to regain the momentum again, and Kelley scrambled for a 29-yard keeper. On the very next play, though, Janocha stole the momentum back with an interception, giving the Chucks the ball on their own 30.
Punxsy's second drive ate four minutes off the clock, just as the first drive did, and ended with six more points for the Chucks on a five-yard rollout pass from Zimmerman to Dale.
Punxsy went for a two-point conversion, but Zimmerman was stopped short of the goal line, keeping the score at 13-0.
Punxsy's defense stepped up on the next drive and forced a three-and-out, highlighted by Tyler Titus' play that ended with a three-yard loss by Lions' running back Joe Tommasi.
On the ensuing punt at- tempt, the snap was launched past Kelley, and although he recovered the fumble, Jonathan Smeal tackled him for a 20-yard loss and a turnover at the Lions' nine-yard line.
The Chucks' ensuing drive was short and sweet, nine yards on two plays capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Zimmerman to Bush.
Fedigan converted on the two-point conversion, and Punxsy's lead was 21-0.
C-L picked up two quick first downs on its next drive on passes from Kelley to Slater and Smith, but another penalty took the Lions back. Titus broke up an attempted screen pass on second down, and the defense held to force another Lions' punt.
On Punxsy's next possession, it put together a scoring drive that lasted more than six minutes.
Early in the drive, it seemed the Lions would force a punt, but Zimmerman put his head down and fought for a first down on an eight-yard quarterback keeper to keep the drive alive.
Zimmerman's hard work was rewarded as he finished the drive with a one-yard keeper after picking up a bobbled snap, and Falgout added the extra point, giving Punxsy a 28-0 lead with under three minutes left in the half.
Punxsy shut down the Lions one more time before halftime, and C-L was forced to punt as time ran out in the second quarter.
In the second half, defense took center stage as Clarion-Limestone shut out the Chucks, and the Chucks attempted to maintain their shutout, as well.
"We played pretty well in the first half," Nichol said. "And you've got to give them credit. They came out and kept us off balance in the second half."
Punxsy opened the half with the ball after a nice return by Fedigan to the Lions' 35-yard line, but the drive ended after Punxsy gained just one first down as Zimmerman was intercepted by Cody Kerle.
The Chucks defense allowed two quick first downs again, but then settled in to force a punt.
Punxsy's offense went into clock-control mode on its next drive. The Chucks fell short in the scoring column but burned five minutes off the clock on a drive that ended with Zimmerman pinning Clarion-Limestone deep at the 15-yard line with a nice punt.
"I think that was the best execution period we've ever had as far as managing the clock," Nichol said. "It's just a lot of hard work. I know Jake Shiock and Tyler Titus did a good job up front.
"And Alex Fedigan did a good job running the ball really hard tonight. It was a great team effort, and I'm excited about the way we've improved."
Limestone replaced Kelley at quarterback with Christian Bakewell, who gave the offense a spark with his new favorite target — Kelley.
Bakewell and Kelley hooked up three times for first-down receptions, but the drive ended with 7:21 left on the clock when Zimmerman picked off another attempted pass by Bakewell.
The Chucks coughed up the ball on a botched snap on an attempted punt, but Zim- merman came up big with another interception on the second play of the next drive.
Punxsy's next drive ended just short of the half's first score at the seven-yard line but ate another six minutes from the clock and pinned the Lions deep, sealing the win and the shutout.
The game ended on a sack by Robbie Barnes after Zach Minich flushed Bakewell from the pocket and barely missed pulling him down.
Punxsy's star of the game was clearly Zimmerman, as he shone on both sides of the ball — throwing for 139 yards and two touchdowns, running for one score and intercepting two Clarion-Limestone passes.
"Zimmerman played an outstanding game and put the ball on the money for us," Nichol said. "The guys in the locker room even said they had some drops for him, and they won't let that happen again. He made a big difference in that game on both sides of the ball."
Fedigan led the way rushing for the Chucks with 23 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Bush put up impressive numbers going for 85 yards on 12 carries.
Dale and Bush were Zimmerman's top tar- gets for the night in the passing game, picking up four catches each for 56 and 57 yards, respectively. Each also notched a receiving touchdown.
Next week, the Chucks return home to host Karns City in their homecoming game — a 7 p.m. kickoff at Jack LaMarca Stadium.