BEDFORD - With less than one minute left in what looked to be a sure victory over Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic, Bedford running back August Cook took a handoff and broke through the Marauders line and found himself all alone in the middle of the field.
Bison defensive back Zach Shaffer had just picked off a pass to end BG's final drive, and as Cook scampered deep into Marauders territory the Bedford fans rose to their feet to celebrate.
Then a BG defender got a hand on the football and popped it from Cook's grasp.
Photo for the Mirror by Edward Lee
Bedford’s Jeremiah Bingham breaks away from BG’s D.J. Kitt.
The Marauders came up with the ball in the ensuing scrum, down 13-10 with just 42 seconds remaining and 82 yards to the Bisons end zone.
A draw play got fullback D.J. Kitt dropped for a 6-yard loss. Then Marauders quarterback Damon Rickens found wide receiver Nick Miller for a 23-yard pass that brought them to their own 35.
But the Bedford defense, dominant most of the game, knocked down two consecutive passes. Time ran out, letting the Bisons escape with the 13-10 season-opening home win.
"It wasn't pretty at times, but they battled and kept working and working and ended up on the right side of the scoreboard," Bedford coach Kevin Steele said. "We'll take it. There's certainly lots of things to work on on Monday, but it's better to be 1-0 than 0-1."
After a dreadful first half, BG picked up the pace in the third quarter, controlling the ball for all but two minutes in the period and taking the lead at 10-6 on the second play of the fourth quarter. But after dropping behind late, coach Justin Wheeler's team just didn't have enough time to come back.
"It was tough - we didn't have any timeouts and had to go 85 yards," the Marauders said. "Give Bedford a lot of credit, they played hard and made some big plays. [They] really held us in check tonight."
Shaffer's late fourth quarter pick was the fourth turnover the Bisons defense caused all night, and its third interception. Bedford was at times shaky in the second half, but its defense stood up to the BG attack steadily throughout the night, allowing just 60 yards in the first half and 232 yards on the night.
"Obviously when you give up that amount of points to anyone in the Laurel Highlands, you have to be proud of that," Steele said. "It wasn't perfect, but they did a lot of things well, so we're happy with where we're at right now."
The Marauders - an early favorite in the Laurel Highlands Conference and in District 6 Class A this year - committed some costly penalties in the game, notching seven during the contest. Most costly was a roughing the kicker penalty early in the fourth quarter, followed almost immediately by a late hit penalty. Right after that second personal foul, Bisons quarterback Austin Montgomery broke lose for his second touchdown of the night, a 47-yard option keeper that set the final score.
Wheeler said his team would work on discipline this week, before hosting a talented Richland team next Friday.
"We really have not had a penalty problem; it's something we're definitely going to address," he said. "We want our guys to play fast, we want our guys to play hard, but the penalties really seemed to kill us tonight.
"But we told our kids after the game that they battled all night long and we're really proud of that."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic0 0 3 7 - 10
Bedford6 0 0 7 - 13
B-Montgomery 35 run (kick failed), 4:47.
BG-Verba 36 field goal, 5:44.
BG-Rickens 4 run (Verba kick), 11:08.
B-Montgomery 47 run (Montgomery kick), 8:08.
RUSHING: Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic-Rickens 12-59, B. Chadbourn 4-10, McCloskey 5-43, Yasulitis 4-7, Little 4-20, Kitt 4-(-3) TEAM 1-(-1). Bedford-Shaffer 1-2, Downs 1-3, Blevins 5-9, Montgomery 12-108, Bingham 13-59, Cook 9-59.
PASSING: Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic-Rickens 9-20-3-97, TEAM 0-2-0-0. Bedford-Montgomery 1-8-0-12.
RECEIVING: Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic-Verba 1-4, Gormley 1-10, McCloskey 3-26, Little 1-12, N. Miller 3-45. Bedford-T. Hickey 1-12.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bedford-3 (Downs, Cook, Shaffer).