WILLIAMSBURG - At 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, junior two-way starter Kyler Diehl has a large wing span and covers a lot of space on the football field for Northern Bedford.
He also possesses an eye for the ball and a knack for anticipating the play that serve him well.
Diehl proved to be quite the opportunist Friday night for the Black Panthers at Williamsburg's War Memorial Field, catching two touchdown passes on offense and returning two intercepted passes for touchdowns on defense as Northern Bedford broke away in the second half for a 42-7 Inter-County Conference, non-section victory.
"He has great instincts, and he's sports-smart,'' Northern Bedford coach Jeff Batzel said of Diehl. "It never ceases to amaze me that he's always in the right place at the right time.''
Diehl, a wideout on offense, caught seven passes from junior quarterback Blake Over for 74 yards, including touchdown throws of 20 yards in the second quarter and 8 yards in the third quarter, when he also returned intercepted passes for touchdowns from 11 and 40 yards out from his defensive back position.
"I just love to contribute in any way that I can,'' Diehl said.
With the score tied, 7-7 and Williamsburg at its own 11 early in the third quarter, Diehl stepped in front of an Austin McMonagle pass and raced down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.
Less than a minute later, he picked off another pass near midfield and sped to the end zone to give Northern (8-1 overall) a 21-7 lead.
"Our defensive line and linebackers put pressure on their quarterback and forced them to make a play,'' Diehl said.
Williamsburg (2-7) played a spirited first half on its Senior Night, going toe-to-toe with the Black Panthers and battling to a 7-7 tie at intermission.
The second half, according to Williamsburg coach Bob Hearn, was a different story. The Black Panthers' defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage, and forced Williamsburg into mistakes.
"Our kids really played well in the first half,'' Hearn said. "They blocked, tackled, and ran the ball well. In the second half, Northern Bedford started to control the line of scrimmage, and they wore us down a little bit. On offense, we made some mistakes and had some trouble moving the ball. And their defensive line didn't give us time to throw. Once the snowball started against us, it was hard for us to stop.''
It didn't help the Blue Pirates that Jed Dishong, their 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior running back who scored Williamsburg's only touchdown on an 81-yard first-quarter run, left the game with a neck injury suffered in the second quarter and did not return.
Northern Bedford put the mercy rule into effect in the fourth quarter when senior halfback Caleb Ebersole raced 16 yards up the middle for a touchdown that gave the Black Panthers a 42-7 lead. Northern's other touchdown came on a 9-yard run by senior back Conner Kagarise in the third quarter.
"We didn't bring our 'A' game in the first half, but we took a business-like approach and got the job done in the second half,'' Batzel said.
Game notes: Williamsburg, which was penalized 11 times for 120 yards, hosts West Branch in the season finale next Friday. Northern Bedford hosts Punxsutawney in its regular-season finale next Friday, and the Black Panthers will move on to the District 5 playoffs the following week.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford0 7 28 7 - 42
Williamsburg7 0 0 0 - 7
W-Dishong 81 run (Conversion), Time.
NB-Diehl 20 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), 9:47.
NB-Diehl 11 interception return (Bequeath kick), 8:56.
NB-Diehl 40 interception return (Bequeath kick), 7:24.
NB-Kagarise 9 run (Bequeath kick), 6:12.
NB-Diehl 8 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), 2:00.
NB-Ebersole 16 run (Bequeath kick), 7:20.
RUSHING: Northern Bedford-Kagarise 15-92, Ebersole 7-41, Miller 1-16, Over 3-14, Hoover 4-11, Gartland 1-5, Brallier 2-3, Diehl 1-1. Williamsburg-Dishong 5-105, Morrisey 7-41, Shanholtz 17-37, Biddle 7-22, McMonagle 3-4, Shaw 1-0, Bookhammer 1-(-10).
PASSING: Northern Bedford-Over 11-23-1-107. Williamsburg-McMonagle 4-15-4-8.
RECEIVING: Northern Bedford-Diehl 7-74, Pressel 2-24, T. Pressel 2-9. Williamsburg-Morrisey 3-8.
INTERCEPTIONS: Northern Bedford-Diehl 2, J. Miller, Z. Pressel. Williamsburg-Snyder.