It was almost like an exorcism, in a place that has been a house of horrors.
Each time the Bedford High School Buccaneers thought they had buried their former arch-rival Friday night, the Concord-Carlisle Patriots resurrected.
Even after Bedford took its third lead of the game, breaking a 28-all tie with an acrobatic catch by Jayvon Williams and a point-after-touchdown from Nick Tatarczuk, the clock still read two minutes, 27 seconds.
And indeed, the Patriots started their final drive at their 35 and were at the Bedford 20 in three plays.
Then, finally, the exorcism began. The defense swarmed running back Brian Jennings on a sweep for a three-yard loss. Quarterback Holden Miller and his favorite target, Blake Newcomb, connected on second down, but it was a checkdown for only for five yards. On third and five, Miller overthrew the endzone.
There was still a minute to go when Bedford’s pass rush finally sealed the deal. Miller dropped back, but couldn’t find an open receiver. He also couldn’t find an escape route from defensive end Ryan Cohen and linebacker Mason Wiggins. Cohen got the sack – Bedford’s first all night. There may have been a fumble as well, but it didn’t matter.
The 35-28 victory was the Bucs’ sixth straight, and one of the sweetest. Three years ago the 46-year Thanksgiving rivalry between the two schools ended; both sides agreed it was no longer competitive.
Not this time. Although the Patriots threw everything at the Bucs, Bedford’s balanced offense was unstoppable in the second half, and the defense came through when it most counted. “That’s probably the best defensive line we faced all year. But we controlled the line of scrimmage in the second half,” Head Coach Tom Tone said.
The Bucs host Newton South this Friday, Senior Night, ending the regular season. Bedford is sure to qualify for the 16-team Division 4 playoffs, which begin Nov. 4, but there are a lot of variables that will determine whether the game is at home. Post-season pairings won’t be announced until noon on Oct. 31. “You can’t get caught looking ahead; every game is important,” the coach stressed.
Friday at Concord, the two teams were tied 14-14 at the break, thanks to a one-handed sideline grab by Newcomb that turned into an 80-yard touchdown pass from Miller with a minute-and-a-half to play.
Bedford dominated the third quarter with two unanswered touchdowns, the second on the opening play of the fourth quarter. But the Patriots tied the game in just three-and-a-half minutes, on drives of 53 and 38 yards and a total of five plays sandwiched around an interception. “Good teams aren’t going to fold when they’re down,” Tone commented.
So C-C had the momentum with more than eight minutes remaining.
The Bucs began the decisive possession at their 25-yard line. Sophomore Drew Siwik, continuing his best game on the varsity, pushed the pile for three yards, setting the stage for another Eric Miles masterpiece.
The senior quarterback, quiet on offense in the first half with just 10 carries for 57 yards, ran 10 more times in the third quarter, gaining 90.
On second-and-seven, Miles broke three tackles for a 12-yard gain. Then he completed a five-yard pass in the middle to tight end Richie Fedele, and faked a handoff to Siwik, creating just enough room for another eight yards to his right.
Just over midfield, after another three yards from Siwik, Miles fired to Stu Livingston on a seven-yard slant to his left, then carried for another eight yards, running outside left. The Patriots stopped Siwik for a one-yard loss, but on third-and-three from the C-C 30, Miles and his right-side linemen powered for the first down at the 26.
Three more yards from Siwik and a seven-yard completion to Tatarczuk, and Bedford fans were wondering how much more time the Bucs could run. But the opportunity was there, and Miles fired toward the right corner of the endzone. Williams leaped to snag the pass, toe-tapped the endzone, and landed out of bounds with the ball secure.
In the second quarter the senior wideout hauled in a 47-yard pass from Miles on a busted coverage. The other three Bedford touchdowns were by Miles, who has 27 in seven games. He rushed 26 times for 184 yards and threw for another 138. Add Siwik’s 69 yards and Bedford’s offense totaled 391. Siwik “ran the ball real hard. He’s getting more confidence,” Tone said.
The Patriots weren’t far behind with 360 yards of offense, 280 of those from the air. After the first series, when Concord methodically marched 57 yards in eight plays to take a 6-0 lead (on a pass from Miller to Newcomb), the Bucs pretty much shut down the Patriots’ ground game. “It took us a little while to get acclimated,” Tone said.
Bedford hadn’t defeated Concord-Carlisle since 2012; the score of that overtime Thanksgiving game was 35-34. The last time the Bucs won in Concord was 2007; before that, 1999 in Coach Armand Sabourin’s final game.