Bedford keeps it going
WINDBER — Bedford head football coach Kevin Steele missed his team’s PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game Friday night due to COVID-19 precautions.
Steele had been experiencing some symptoms of the virus, had received a preliminary COVID-19 test, and the results came back negative. He’ll receive further results on Monday.
Steele’s Bedford team put together a performance Friday that was certainly good for anything that ailed him.
Led by senior quarterback Mercury Swaim’s 261 rushing yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns, and senior fullback Elijah Cook’s three scoring runs, unbeaten Bedford pulled away in the second half to double up District 10 champion Hickory, 34-17, at Windber Stadium.
“It’s awesome that we were able to do this for him,” Bedford acting head coach Adam Arnold said of Steele. “He puts in so much time with this program that people don’t even see. His first tests came back negative, and we’re hoping the ones that he gets on Monday will as well, so he can join us for next week’s game. I know that he’s very excited about this.”
Bedford (10-0) draws unbeaten Central Valley of the WPIAL in a semifinal matchup next weekend at a site and time to be determined to play for the right to advance to the PIAA state championship game in Hershey in two weeks.
Central Valley also improved to 10-0 with a 35-0 quarterfinal victory over Elizabeth Forward on Friday night.
Ahead just 13-10 at intermission, Bedford came out of the locker room and took control of the game in the third quarter.
Swaim’s 41-yard run up the middle on Bedford’s first offensive series of the second half paved the way for Cook’s 12-yard touchdown burst that gave Bedford a 20-10 lead.
With time winding down in the third quarter, Swaim broke off a 56-yard touchdown run down the right side of the field to expand Bedford’s lead to 27-10 after three stops.
Bedford’s offensive line opened up space for Swaim and the Bisons’ other talented skill-position runners all night long, as Bedford compiled an impressive 444 yards on the ground.
“We really trust in our offensive line to be able to wear (opponents) down,” Arnold said. “It’s good to be able to see that tonight. You couldn’t ask for anything more from the guys up front, and Merc (Swaim) did a phenomenal job running the option for the entire game.”
Play of the game: Swaim’s 56-yard touchdown burst with 1:51 left in the third quarter put the game on ice for Bedford.
Player of the game: Swaim rushed for 100 yards on nine carries in the first half, providing Bedford’s first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard first-quarter run. He added 161 yards rushing on 10 carries in the second half, including the big 56-yard TD jaunt.
Unsung hero(es): Bedford’s offensive line gave Swaim, Cook (72 yards on 16 carries and scoring runs of 4, 12 and 2 yards), senior back Spencer Ebersole (68 yards on nine carries), and senior back Steven Ressler (43 yards on 11 attempts) plenty of breathing room.
Most vital statistic: Bedford’s ground-and-pound offense churned out 444 rushing yards.
Hickory coach Bill Dungee: “Our guys gave it everything they had. I hate to see it end. It was a phenomenal year. (Bedford) is a heck of a team. They did a great job. Hats off to them.”
Swaim: “Our line did a heck of a job all night working as a unit, opening up some big holes for me to run through. We had some good drives that ate up some clock and put us ahead.”
Bedford senior guard Hunter Cessna: “I felt that we did pretty well up front and controlled the game in the second half. And our skill kids made some big plays when we needed them.”
Arnold on Central Valley: “They’re a big, physical typical WPIAL football team. We’ve got to be ready to match their physical style of play, and I think that we will be.”
Notable: After Bedford scored first, Hickory took a 7-6 lead on senior quarterback Michael Henwood’s 46-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Matt Cannone in the opening seconds of the second quarter … Bedford pulled back ahead, though, 13-7 on a Cook’s 4-yard TD run with 5:31 left in the first half … Cook’s 2-yard touchdown run with 3:47 left in the game capped off the scoring after Hickory had pulled to within 27-17 on a 2-yard touchdown run by junior back Clay Wiesen in the first minute of the fourth quarter … Freshman Lukas Jones kicked a 28-yard second-quarter field goal, while Henwood completed 14-of-26 passes for 198 yards and rushed 15 times for 93 yards … Cannone caught four passes totaling 133 yards … Senior linebacker Connor Clarke and sophomore defensive back Ethan Weber made interceptions for Bedford.
Records: Hickory (8-1); Bedford (10-0).
Next week: Hickory’s season is finished. Bedford moves on to the PIAA semifinals for the first time next weekend at a site and time to be determined against Central Valley in a matchup of 10-0 teams.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hickory 0 10 0 7– 17
Bedford 6 7 14 7– 34
B–Swaim 2 run (kick failed), 3:44.
H–Cannone 46 pass from Henwood (Jones kick), 11:52.
B–Cook 4 run (Martz kick), 5:31.
H–Jones 28 FG, 3:20.
B–Cook 12 run (Martz kick), 8:47.
B–Swaim 56 run (Martz kick), 1:51.
H–Wiesen 2 run (Jones kick), 11:06.
B–Cook 2 run (Martz kick), 3:47.
TEAM STATISTICS H BED
First downs 19 21
Total yards 368 469
Rushes-yards 25-170 55-444
Yards passing 198 25
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 14-26-2 3-9-1
Punts-avg. 3-35.3 1-51
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-60 4-40
RUSHING–Hickory, Henwood 15-93, Wiesen 7-58, Cannone 1-13, Whithead 2-6. Bedford, Swaim 19-261, Cook 16-72, Ebersole 9-68, S. Ressler 11-43.
PASSING–Hickory, Kenwood 14-26-2-198. Bedford, Swaim 3-9-1-25.
RECEIVING–Hickory, Whitehead 5-37, Cannone 4-133, Wiesen 3-17, Pryts 2-11. Bedford, S. Ressler 2-16, Edwards 1-9.