JOHNSTOWN - Kody Blevins doesn't get to handle the football a whole lot, but he definitely knows what to do when he does.
The Bedford Area High School senior football captain turned a one-hand stab into a game-changing 100-yard interception return for a touchdown with the first of his two picks, then added a 37-yard TD reception and a 69-yard scoring run as the Bisons continued their amazing turnaround with a 54-10 Laurel Highlands Conference Section 1 victory over Westmont Hilltop on Saturday afternoon at Price Field.
The Bisons, who won two games all of last year, improved to 4-1 and giving them enough victories to be eligible for the District 5 Class AA playoffs. Jeremiah Bingham added 136 yards on the ground for Bedford, including a big 45-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, while sophomore quarterback Austin Montgomery scored on a pair of 3-yard runs.
Lucas Waugerman capped things off with two touchdown runs after the mercy-rule running clock had kicked in.
"We're all together in this," Blevins said when asked how Bedford has been able to make such strides in one year. "We have some older leaders and the young guys are stepping up. It's a great group of kids, and everyone picks each other up."
Now 2-1 in the section, the Bisons were heavily favored over the winless Hilltoppers. Westmont, though, drove to the Bedford 4 with 7 seconds left in the first half and were in a position to get within 14-10 at the intermission.
That's when Blevins leaped high to spear Liam Moran's pass 3 yards deep in the end zone. Then, with almost everyone else hesitating, Blevins brought the ball out, broke free and went the distance for a score that made it 21-3.
"That was a huge momentum swing for us," Bingham said. "I personally was telling him to take a knee, because we had an incident before where he got a little fancy on us and we ended up taking a safety after he was tackled at the 1."
Not this time.
"I threw my hands up and grabbed it. I looked around for a second, and I decided to run it out. It was a great job by our boys to keep the play going," Blevins said. "Half of our team was telling me to take a knee. Coach [Kevin] Steele was probably telling me to take a knee. They all stopped because they thought I was going down, but I kept going."
Blevins finished with two interceptions, 78 yards on five carries and 56 yards on three receptions. Not bad for a guy that only had 19 carries and four receptions in the first four games.
"He certainly ran the ball extremely well today. He ran the ball extremely well last week," Steele said. "He's really building confidence and coming into his own. Hopefully that will continue throughout the season."
Westmont, which was celebrating homecoming and led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, got 193 yards through the air from Moran, with 11 of his passes going to Colin Barron for 143 yards. Sam Curry rushed for 100 yards. Even with all that yardage, the Hilltoppers had little to show for it.
"I thought we battled hard. We just made too many mental mistakes," Westmont coach Pat Barron said. "When you turn the ball over and make mental mistakes, you're going to lose."
Barron pointed to Blevins' return and Bingham's TD run as the big plays. Two Hilltoppers appeared to have Bingham 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but the Bedford running back just bounced off, then found 45 yards of open field in front of him to give Bedford the lead.
"It was just everybody blocking for you," Bingham said. "Once I got past the first guy, I have home free."
Bedford ran off 40 straight points and finished with 467 yards of total offense while picking off three passes. The Bisons host Johnstown next week.
"We're happy to be 4-1," Steele said. "We'll go back to work and get ready for Johnstown."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bedford0 21 19 14 - 54
Westmont Hilltop3 0 0 7 - 10
WH-Causer 43 FG, 5:32.
B-Bingham 45 run (Montgomery kick), 11:32.
B-Montgomery 3 run (Montgomery kick), 2:07.
B-Blevins 100 interception return (Montgomery kick), 0:00.
B-Blevins 37 pass from Montgomery (kick failed), 9:16.
B-Montgomery 3 run (Montgomery kick), 2:24.
B-Blevins 69 run (pass failed), 0:37.
WH-Barron 25 pass from Moran (Causer kick), 7:37.
B-Waugerman 70 run (Montgomery kick), 7:23.
B-Waugerman 13 run (Montgomery kick), 3:19.
RUSHING: Bedford-Bingham 14-136, Waugerman 3-95, Blevins 5-78, Ellingson 2-9, Downs 1-9, Cook 3-8. Westmont Hilltop-Curry 17-100, Moran 12-30, Valente 4-9, Sabo 2-1, Bulas 1-1, Kott 1-0, Krieger 1-(-4).
PASSING: Bedford-Montgomery 7-10-0-132. Westmont Hilltop-Moran 14-23-2-193, Curry 0-1-1-0, Kott 0-1-0-0, TEAM 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING: Bedford-Shaffer 3-69, Blevins 3-56, Bingham 1-7. Westmont Hilltop-Barron 11-143, Sabo 1-30, Boyle 1-15, Curry 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bedford-Blevins 2, Shaffer. Westmont Hilltop-none.