LORETTO - Special teams play is often a very important part of a football game, and it was for Bedford Friday night.
A couple big kickoff returns in the second half set the stage for Bedford touchdowns as the Bisons outlasted Bishop Carroll, 28-21 in a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, non-section game on a frosty evening at St. Francis University's DeGol Field.
Senior Dalton Tew took a squibbed Carroll kick at the outset of the second half 41 yards to the Carroll 11, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by senior flanker Kody Blevins that gave Bedford a 21-14 lead.
After Carroll tied the game, 21-21 midway through the fourth quarter, Bedford sophomore Lucas Waugerman ignited Bedford's game-winning touchdown drive by returning the ensuing kickoff to the Carroll 46.
Seven plays later, sophomore quarterback Austin Montgomery wheeled into the end zone on an option sprint off left tackle with 3:18 remaining in the game to give Bedford its margin of victory.
"Lucas Waugerman had a nice kickoff return for us,'' Bedford coach Kevin Steele said. "He got some good blocking, and did a good job of finding a seam. And Dalton Tew did a great job with that onside kick. That was a huge play in the game.''
Only it wasn't really an onside kick by Carroll's junior kickoff man Mark Dumm, according to Huskies' coach Greg Snyder.
"Our kid squibbed it off his foot,'' Snyder said. "It wasn't designed to be an onside kick. If we were intending an onside kick, we would have had more guys lined up over to that side of the field. Mark was great on kickoffs for us all night, but he just happened to hit that one off the side of his foot.''
As it has all year, Bedford mixed the run and pass well again Friday with Montgomery at the controls. The talented soph completed five of nine passes for 104 yards. He also ran for two touchdowns, including a 1-yard second-quarter sneak.
Blevins sliced and weaved for 71 yards on nine carries and a pair of touchdowns, as Bedford (7-2 overall) amassed 185 yards on the ground.
"Our guys played hard, but we just didn't make enough plays,'' said Snyder, whose Huskies dropped to 5-4 overall. "It was a great battle tonight. Bedford's veer option is scary. They have a great team.''
The two teams punched and counter-punched all night long. Blevins' 3-yard run capped an 85-yard opening drive for Bedford, but Carroll responded with a 6-yard touchdown run by bullish senior back Tyler Janosik, who led all rushers with 146 yards on 18 carries.
Bedford assembled a 64-yard drive that Montgomery capped off with his 1-yard second-quarter TD sneak, but Carroll answered that with Janosik's 27-yard burst off left tackle with 5:19 left in the half that tied the score again, 14-14 at the break.
Carroll pulled even, 21-21 on senior back Alex Repko's 3-yard fourth-quarter run that finished a 76-yard drive.
But Bedford landed the decisive blow following Waugerman's kickoff return.
"Bishop Carroll has a solid football team,'' Steele said. "We knew we were going to be in for a battle. We were fortunate to make a couple plays at the end of the game.''
Game notes: Bedford hosts county foe Chestnut Ridge next Friday, while Carroll - which is on the bubble for the District 6-A playoffs - hosts Westmont Hilltop in its regular-season finale next Saturday night ... Marty Lessard recovered a fumble for Carroll, while Zach Shaffer and Dylan Downs intercepted passes for Bedford. Downs' pick deep in Bedford territory as time ran down sealed the game for the Bisons.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bedford7 7 7 7 - 28
Bishop Carroll7 7 0 7 - 21
BED-Blevins 3 run (Montgomery kick), 4:07.
BC-Janosik 6 run (Gruss kick), 2:28.
BED-Montgomery 1 run (Montgomery kick), 10:29.
BC-Janosik 27 run (Gruss kick), 5:19.
BED-Blevins 12 run (Montgomery kick), 11:07.
BC-Repko 3 run (Gruss kick), 7:10.
BED-Montgomery 2 run (Montgomery kick), 3:18.
RUSHING: Bedford-Blevins 9-71, Montgomery 12-49, Bingham 12-45, Cook 7-17, Ellingston 1-3, Team 3-0. Bishop Carroll-Janosik 18-146, Shuty 7-119, Repko 7-22, Frederick 1-3.
PASSING: Bedford-Montgomery 5-9-0-104. Bishop Carroll-Shuty 4-14-2-37.
RECEIVING: Bedford-Blevins 2-41, Shaffer 1-26, Sipes 1-19, Cook 1-18. Bishop Carroll-Repko 3-41, Lesney 1-(-4).
INTERCEPTIONS: Bedford-Shaffer, Downs.