The Bedford High School Buccaneers aim to close the regular season on a winning note, traveling to winless Waltham for a 1 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
Mathematically, the Bucs (4-3 on the season) still have a chance to qualify for MIAA Division 4 post-season play, even after last Friday’s disappointing 28-14 defeat in Wayland.
The Warriors churned out 336 yards on the ground, averaging eight yards per carry.
“They kind of ran it at will. We couldn’t stop it,” said Bedford Head Coach Tom Tone, who was quick to point out that “we gave ourselves an opportunity.”
He acknowledged that senior Dylan Lykins, “our best two-way lineman,” was far from 100 percent as he recovers from an injury sustained two weeks ago.
The Bucs trailed by two scores, 12-0, although they had some success moving the ball.
“We didn’t really play very well for much of the first half,” Tone said. Two highlights were two blocked extra points.
As the Bucs kicked off for the third quarter, a stop on the opening series seemed like a key to changing the momentum. But that evaporated in less than a minute and a half. Wayland covered 63 yards in just three runs and added the two-point conversion. The only good news was that the Bucs still had almost the entire second half to come back.
That started with a 27-yard third-down connection from Ryan McGrath to Ricky LaBoy on the left sideline. Ethan Kauffman’s point-after-touchdown made the score 20-7. The drive was sparked by a 30-yard LaBoy kickoff return to the Bedford 45 and a 15-yard completion from McGrath to Sam DeAngelis, converting on fourth-and-10.
There were still more than four minutes remaining when Bedford recovered a fumble at the BHS 37, forced by LaBoy.
“Ricky really has been our best player on both sides of the ball,” Tone said. He is learning a new position on defense, and “on offense we need him to do a lot of different things.”
After the turnover, the Bucs struck in one gigantic play, as McGrath faked a jet sweep and a handoff, then took a short drop and spotted Xavier Ruiz beyond the defense. The receiver had to turn and come back for the ball, then accelerate into the endzone. Kauffman made it 20-14, with a quarter-and-a-third remaining.
But the Warriors covered 76 yards in less than four minutes to regain the two-touchdown lead. After five consecutive runs for 50 yards, Mekhi Walker made an acrobatic catch at the one-yard line before Caulfield got the score and added the two points.
Momentum sometimes shifts from little things. Bedford took the opening kickoff and moved the ball gradually, painstakingly at times, with inside runs and short passes. And after 12 plays and more than five minutes, the campaign was poised to continue with a fourth-and-one at the Wayland 28.
But suddenly it was fourth-and-six as the Bucs were flagged for a false start. “You can’t be making week-one mistakes in week seven,” Tone said after the game.
McGrath’s subsequent pass to LaBoy only covered two yards. Wayland took over, and after two decent runs, quarterback Nathaliel Kilmon led Walker perfectly down the left side for a 54-yard touchdown.
The game was a standoff until around three-and-a-half minutes to play in the second half. McGrath, rolling right, tried to float a ball over the defensive line, but it sailed past the receivers and Max Dresens snatched the ball as it was about to hit the ground. He returned the interception to the eight-yard line, where McGrath stopped him, injuring his non-throwing hand in the process. Wayland then rushed twice for the TD.
McGrath completed 13 of 17 throws to six different receivers for 168 yards.