Momentum swings in Bisons’ favor
CRESSON — Bedford doubled up Penn Cambria, 50-25, at Panther Community Stadium Friday night to remain unbeaten, but rather than let himself fully enjoy the victory, Bisons star Steven Ressler expressed guarded optimism after the game.
“We’re really excited,” Ressler said. “We’re excited for playoffs with one more game to go. We just hope COVID doesn’t shut everything down for us.”
Ressler’s comment just seconds after his team improved to 6-0 sums up the 2020 scholastic year well. Bedford is enjoying one of its best seasons, and has the talent to make a long state playoff run, but the Bisons — and everyone else in the state — are living week by week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bedford was without its normal placekicker, Lizzy Martz, on Friday night as she’s quarantining with the school’s girls soccer team, likely prompting Ressler’s concern.
Play of the game: Ressler answered a 93-yard kickoff return for a score by Nick Marinak with an 84-yard touchdown return of his own to squash Penn Cambria’s momentum and give Bedford a three-score lead in the third quarter.
Player of the game: Bedford quarterback Mercury Swaim rushed for 144 yards and four touchdowns on just 13 carries, passed for 101 yards and another score, ran in a two-point conversion and had a sack on defense.
Unsung hero: Marinak, who caught six passes for 134 yards and a score in addition to his kickoff return. He also made several plays defensively on deep passes in one-on-one situations.
Most vital statistic: Both teams had 10 first downs in the first half, but Bedford had 17 in the second half while Penn Cambria had just three.
Bedford coach Kevin Steele: “Steven Ressler is a great football player, and we’re blessed to have him on our side of the football. They made some big plays, and we made some big plays. (The kick return) was a big play for us to change momentum back our way. There were a lot of momentum swings tonight, but we were able to make enough plays on our end to finish strong.”
Ressler on his kick return for a score: “We were down. We were on the sideline moping around a little bit, and when I returned that kick our morale was boosted back up right away.”
Crediting the opponent: “Penn Cambria played pretty well. Their quarterback played well, and Marinak is a good football player,” Steele said. “Their kids made some big plays. They have a solid football team, but our kids made a few more plays than they did tonight.”
Penn Cambria coach Nick Felus: “I feel great about our team. Our kids are very resilient. We played a tough schedule, and we’re battle-tested. We have faced adversity these last two weeks, and tonight we had some kids play hard and make some plays. We feel very confident about our chances. At the end of the day, we just have to play hard, execute and get better on defense. We’ll be prepared for next week.”
Marinak: “We hung with one of the best teams in the LHAC. I feel confident going forward.”
Notable: Penn Cambria’s Jake Tsikalas, who was the Panthers starting quarterback two years ago before transitioning to wide receiver, completed a 39-yard pass to Cole Eberhart to set up Penn Cambria’s first touchdown. … Josiah Weyandt had three sacks for Bedford. … The Bisons will play either Clearfield or Saint Marys in the District 5-9 Class 3A regional in two weeks. The winner of that game will play the District 6 champion, which could be Penn Cambria if the Panthers win their next two games.
Records: Bedford (6-0); Penn Cambria (3-3)
Next week: Bedford hosts winless Johnstown in a regular season game. Third-seeded Penn Cambria travels to second-seeded Tyrone for a District 6 Class 3A semifinal playoff game.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bedford 6 16 21 7 — 50
Penn Cambria 6 7 12 0 — 25
B–Swaim 4 run (pass failed), 8:45.
PC–Grove 1 run (kick failed), 1:56.
B–Ebersole 11 run (Ressler run), 10:41.
PC–Grove 30 pass from Harrold (Michina kick), 2:00.
B–Ressler 5 pass from Swaim (Swaim run), 0:28.
B–Swaim 20 run (Snavely kick), 9:07.
PC–Marinak 93 kickoff return (pass failed), 8:53.
B–Ressler 84 kickoff return (Snavely kick), 8:40.
PC–Marinak 75 pass from Harrold (pass failed), 7:27.
B–Swaim 20 run (Snavely kick), 5:14.
B–Swaim 10 run (Snavely kick), 7:23.
TEAM STATISTICS B PC
First downs 27 13
Total yards 519 332
Rushes-yards 47-417 28-83
Yards passing 101 250
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 11-19-0 14-28-0
Punts-avg. 3-27.7 5-33
Fumbles-lost 0-0 5-1
Penalties-yards 7-74 11-113
RUSHING–Bedford, Swaim 13-144, Price 10-78, Cook 11-67, Ebersole 3-62, Ressler 6-49, Weber 4-17. Penn Cambria, Grove 8-38, Harrold 18-24, Marinak 2-21.
PASSING–Bedford, Swaim 11-19-0-101. Penn Cambria, Harrold 13-27-0-211, Tsikalas 1-1-0-39.
RECEIVING–Bedford, Ressler 7-65, Edwards 4-36. Penn Cambria, Marinak 6-134, Storm 4-46, Eberhart 2-39, Grove 1-30, Shuagis 1-1.