The Bedford High School Buccaneers host historic opponent Acton-Boxborough on Friday at 7 p.m., aiming to bounce back from last week’s disappointing one-point football loss.
The Bucs and the Revolution (A-B discarded the nickname Colonials in 2020) are each 2-2. Once a highlight on their Dual County League schedule, Bedford hasn’t played A-B for several years.
Bedford’s senior players and cheerleaders will be honored before kickoff as Friday will be the final home regular-season game – less than a full month into the campaign.
A-B owns a one-point victory over Lexington and last week defeated Waltham in a defensive struggle, 14-6. The Bucs lost a hard-fought game to Newburyport, 22-21, as the visitors won the game on a two-point conversion with a minute-and-a-half to play.
The Bucs took their first lead with a little more than five minutes remaining. Newburyport turned the ball over on downs at midfield, and the Bucs needed 69 seconds to reach the end zone.
It was all Ricardo LaBoy and the offensive line: a sweep to the right for 17 yards and, after a one-yard dive, another sweep to the left for the remaining 32. The tailback dashed through a channel in the defensive line and cut back to the right and into acres of open space, outrunning the defense to the endzone. Xavier Ruiz’s kick made it 21-14 with a little more than five minutes on the game clock.
“We were in a pretty good position,” said Head Coach Tom Tone. Through the first 19 minutes of the second half, Newburyport totaled six yards of offense and zero first downs. And a penalty on the extra point gave the Bucs a kickoff advantage; the Clippers started the series at their 20.
After three plays for 14 yards, Head Coach Bob Smolski replaced quarterback Sean Miles with quicker Colin Fuller. The results were immediate: a 24-yard scamper to the Bedford 42. One play later, Jack Sullivan ran a sweep to the left, where he appeared to be boxed in by Bedford defenders near the sideline. Somehow, he escaped, racing all the way across the field before he was tackled at the 13.
Then Newburyport scored on a trick play – wide receiver Samuel Craig took a pitch on a double reverse and tossed to quarterback Fuller, who was wide open in the end zone.
The Clippers took a timeout to plan the two-point conversion play. They ran Sullivan on a pitch to the right; LaBoy raced out of the defensive backfield to trip him up, but the ball carrier successfully lunged for the pylon.
Bedford still had time to drive for the winning score, needing only a field goal and with three timeouts. Even after a mishandled kickoff, two completions from Ryan McGrath to Mekhi Volcy for 27 yards made it third-down-and-one near midfield. The Bucs rushed to the line – and were flagged for a false start.
McGrath couldn’t find a receiver on third and six and ran out of bounds. His fourth-down attempt was an interception, his fifth of the game.
“When it mattered most, they made the plays,” Tone said of the Clippers, acknowledging that the Buccaneers played hard, but on a couple of key plays, including a second-quarter touchdown pass, “we didn’t tackle very well.”
One Buccaneer who did was LaBoy, who saved a touchdown on the last play of the first half. Lining up at the one-yard line with time for one play, Miles threw a swing pass to his back, but LaBoy read it and made the tackle for a loss.
“He flies all over the field on defense,” Tone said of the senior, noting that LaBoy is learning a new defensive position but “you wouldn’t know it. He left everything on the field. We’ve got a lot of young kids learning how to play, and Ricky is setting a good example.”
LaBoy also had two long kickoff returns, one to the Newburyport 39; after that, the Clippers stopped their deep kickoffs. He scored Bedford’s second TD – set up by a 42-yard bomb from McGrath to Ruiz – and ran for three short-yardage first downs after taking the direct snap from center. McGrath ran for the first Bedford score.