PUNXSUTAWNEY – Favored to soundly defeat their opponent, the Punxsy Chucks did just that as they dominated the Clarion-Limestone Lions from the opening moments to roll to a 41-7 victory Friday night at Jack F. LaMarca Stadium.
“It was very important to come out and play the way we did,” said Chucks head coach Alan Nichol. “Clarion-Limestone had a good game plan. They ran after our run-ning backs, and we had some tough sledding inside.”
“We prepared for it and kept hanging in there, and we came out alright,” Nichol added.
The victory extended the Chucks winning streak to three as they improved to 4-2 on the season while the Lions dropped to 0-6. The 41 points is the most Punxsy has put on the scoreboard in 15 games dating back to playing at A-C Valley last Sept. 9 in a 42-6 win. Clarion-Limestone has now failed to reach double figures in points in five of its first six contests.
“This turned out to be one of the better nights we have had as a team,” said Nichol.
Quarterback Garrett Zimmerman followed up his outstanding game at St. Marys with a comparable one against Clarion-Limestone. In one half, Zimmerman completed seven of 10 passes, completing his final four, covering 171 yards and four touchdowns. He added 14 yards on the ground for 185 yards of total offense.
“We had another good game passing the ball,” pointed out Nichol. “Zimmerman was right on, and our receivers caught everything.”
Zimmerman’s four scoring passes were to three different receivers. Sophomore Dakota Byers led in yardage with 76 on two grabs including a 45-yard touchdown. Both of Clayton Dale’s receptions went for scores of 29 and 20 yards for 49 yards on the game. Jamie Bush grabbed the other three passes for 46 yards and one score.
Bush added 42 yards on the ground on five totes, but it was Perry Arrington’s 88 yards on only seven carries that led the Chucks’ rushers. Travis Perry ran five times for 41 yards while Christian Falgout accounted for 32 yards on seven attempts.
Punxsy doubled the Clarion-Limestone offensive output, 417 to 206 yards, with 284 of the yards coming in the opening 12 minutes.
Lions’ wide receiver Tommy Smith highlighted the night for the visitors with five catches for 123 yards and a 60-yard touchdown grab.
The first touch of the football by a Chucks player started the dominate evening. On the opening kickoff, Falgout rambled 49 yards before the Lions were able to corral him on the C-L 30-yard line.
Bush took the handoff on the first offensive snap over the right side and was not stopped before reaching the eight-yard line for a 22-yard gain. The senior fullback completed carrying the offense with an eight-yard catch out of the backfield from Zimmerman for the Punxsy initial touchdown. Kicker Trevor Peace, who was five of five on point after kicks, booted the extra point to make it 7-0 with only 44 seconds gone in the game.
After C-L drove 43 yards on 10 plays, the Punxsy defense stiffened and forced quarterback Christian Bakewell to throw an incompletion and turnover on downs.
The Chucks went back to putting points on the board. Taking over on the home 32-yard line, Zimmerman was sacked but it was the only negative yardage play of the first half. After the Chucks’ rushers ran for 27 yards on four carries, Zimmerman fired a ball deep over the middle where a sprinting Byers snatched it from the air and raced the rest of the 45 yards for the second score. After the Peace extra point, Punxsy enjoyed the 14-0 advantage 7:08 into the affair.
The Punxsy defense forced a three-and-out where it stuffed C-L running back Kyle Robertson for losses on both second and third downs.
Following the visitors’ punt, Punxsy continued putting points on the first quarter scoreboard.
Taking over at the Lions’ 47-yard line, the Chucks moved the ball only 15 yards on the first five plays but were aided by a defensive offsides call. It was ‘Air Chucks’ time again. Zimmerman hit Dale on a short pass in the right flat and saw the receiver take the ball the entire width of the field until going into the left corner of the end zone from 29 yards to make it 21-0 with nine seconds left in the first frame.
In the second quarter, the Chucks defense continued to shut down the Lions but saw their own offense turn the ball over on downs on the C-L 22-yard line on the ensuing possession.
After C-L’s third punt of the night, Punxsy would add to the lead. Caesar Maruca, who had 24 yards on three carries, ran for 11 yards on first down from the visiting 37-yard line. Four plays later, Maruca ran for another nine yards down to the four-yard line where Falgout would plunge to paydirt for a 28-0 tally at 5:59 in the second quarter.
Clarion-Limestone was able to put together a nine-play and 29-yard small drive. The Lions, though, would end up being forced to punt and gave the Chucks their worst field position of the half on the home 19-yard line.
The field position did not prove to be an issue for Zimmerman and the offense. The senior quarterback hit Byers for 31 yards to start the quick drive. He followed with a short pass to Bush, who took the ball to the Lions’ 20-yard line for 30 yards. The next play and fifth touchdown of the first half was next when
Dale grabbed a 20-yard pass on a nice, deep cut-in throw from Zimmerman to make it 35-0 with 59.9 seconds in the half.
Leading 35-0 at the half, Punxsy cleared the sideline and saw every player see action in the second 24 minutes.
“It was great to see some action. Perry Arrington ran well, and Travis Perry is coming along,” said Nichol. “Seniors Josh Smith and Devin Williams made some plays while they were in there too.”
It was a scoreless third quarter until Clarion-Limestone converted in a big way on a fourth-and-three at its own 40-yard line.
Bakewell lofted a deep pass down the middle.
Smith tapped it a few times and held it against his facemask to catch the pass against double coverage before turning and running the remaining 60 yards to make it 35-7 with 1:05 in the third.
Punxsy answered right back with the contest’s final points. Arrington started the drive with an impressive 46-yard run.
Perry followed Arrington with his own 18-yard jaunt to end the third quarter down to the C-L 13-yard line.
Five plays later, quarterback Dakota Thomas kept the ball for a one-yard score to take the game to the eventual 41-7 final score with 8:49 left.
“We were able to rest some people in the second half, as the starters are trying to all get healthy,” wrapped up Nichol. “We want to keep improving from here, as that is what competition is all about.”
Punxsy will get the chance to continue to improve next Friday when it travels to face a solid Karns City club starting at 7 p.m.