Bedford High School senior quarterback Eric Miles needed 126 yards rushing to reach 2,000 for the 2022 season. He finished Thursday’s holiday matchup against Burlington with 34.
But there was a consolation prize: 12-for-13 passing for 325 yards and five touchdowns as the Bucs finished the season with a decisive 49-6 victory and a 9-2 record for the second consecutive year.
Miles completed first-half scoring passes to Rich Fedele (two), Ricky LaBoy, and Nick Tatarczuk, rushed for his 33rd touchdown of the season, ran for a two-point conversion and threw to Fedele for another. His second-quarter 50-yard touchdown run was nullified by a holding penalty.
LaBoy’s 40-yard interception return and a Tatarczuk point-after-touchdown with 84 seconds to play in the first half produced a 42-6 lead for Bedford at the break. Three plays into the second half, Miles connected with Jayvon Williams for a 35-yard scoring play and the rest of the game unfolded with a running clock by rule because of the point differential.
Burlington, which won four games this season, has shown a propensity to defend the run, said Bedford Head Coach Tom Tone after the game. “So, when they loaded the box and didn’t cover, we just kept throwing,” he said.
Miles, who has now played 11 career games at QB, all in the past 10 weeks, has the option to pass if he finds a receiver is not covered.
“Eric just slings it out there,” Tone said. “We build that in.”
So, the first scoring drive, which took only 47 seconds thanks to the Bucs’ tempo offense, consisted of three plays: Miles completions to Nelson Crawford (12 yards), Williams (32) and Fedele (32). The second scoring drive also took only three plays: Miles’s two rushes for two yards, and a catch-and-run featuring LaBoy on the left flank for 47 yards and a TD.
And so it went. Bedford’s third scoring drive followed an 11-yard punt out of bounds near midfield. This time the drive was two plays: Miles to Williams for 16 yards, and Miles to Fedele for 87 yards. Touchdown.
“It’s all in the play-calling,” Fedele said. “Coaches really set it up.”
Miles, as he always does, gave the credit to everybody else.
“The coaches knew what Burlington was going to do, even before the game. They put us in a great spot,” he said. “The receivers, the line…all year they’ve done their jobs. Everything was clicking.”
Last week Miles was named Player of the Year in the Foley Division of the Dual County League.
The Buccaneers ran just 27 offensive plays, compared to 49 for Burlington. The Bedford defense held the Red Devils to 183 offensive yards, and 48 of those were on two trick plays in which the receiver pitched to a passing offensive lineman after the catch.
Burlington actually tied the game at six with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Gerrior to Jack Tzovaras. But the next time the Devils offense crossed the Bedford 45, the Bucs had a comfortable 27-6 advantage.
Gerrior completed 16 of 32 passes with two interceptions. He wasn’t sacked, but Tone pointed out that pressure from the pass rush hastened several of the quarterback’s throws.
The Bucs have now won the first two games of the Thanksgiving showdown, renewed last year after 47 years of playing Concord-Carlisle.
Bedford coaches and seniors – some of whom have played football together for as many as nine years – shared post-game mixed emotions as their high school careers closed under the midday Thanksgiving sunshine.
“It’s not just the football that we’re going to miss. It’s the parents, the team dinners, everyone who had a part,” Miles reflected. “These are moments you never forget,” Williams said. Added offensive lineman Emil Colon, “For me it’s closure to leave the sport so happy.”
“A lot of people say, ‘Be sure to take it all in.’ But it does fly by. Sometimes it feels like my first game,” said Chris Puglielli.
His fellow lineman Jamie Buchannan said, “I don’t know where I’d be without football.” The three-year starter added, “If you want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe, you will be successful.”
Tone pointed out that over the past four years – including the Covid-abbreviated 2022 spring season – Bedford football had a record of 31-9.
“I’ve been coaching for 19 years and this was definitely my favorite group,” the coach said.