Friday, October 28, 2011
Bedford Makes Big Plays, Beats Portsmouth
The Bedford High football team continues to be one of the hottest teams in the state. They lost their first 2 games to begin the season, but since then they've won 6 in a row, including a win over a then-undefeated Hollis-Brookline team. And now tonight they went on the road and beat Portsmouth (who was 5-1 in D-III before tonight) by a score of 24-12.
"We're playing with a better attitude now" said senior RB/LB Jordan Garron. "We're all focused now, we're trying to win states."
Bedford did it with big plays tonight. They intercepted Portsmouth QB Billy Hartmann 3 times (all of them came inside the 30 yard line and 1 of them came in the end zone). Dylan York (who had the INT in the end zone) also had a 92 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Additionally, Bulldogs QB James Caparell threw a 77 yard pass to Joe Moquin, and at the end of the 1st half Bedford got creative with their play calling, running a half back pass play which resulted in a 66 yard TD pass from Nick Vailas to Brian Collins (Vailas also made an INT on defense).
"Our defense really stepped up today" said York, who is part of a VERY strong junior class at Bedford. "On my interception I just followed the ball, made the play and tried to keep my feet in bounds."
Portsmouth got their TD on a BIG pass by Hartmann. It was 4th down and 10 for the Clippers on the Bedford 24 yard line. Hartmann then threw a perfect pass, floating the ball right over the outstretched hands of not 1 but 2 DB's and in the hands of running back Billy Lane for the 24 yard TD. The extra point was no good, as the snap sailed over the holder's head (the same thing happened on the PAT attempt on the Clipper's other score as well). That made it 7-6 Bedford with 7:11 left in the 2nd quarter.
Bedford was able to take the early lead after Caparell's 77 yard bomb to Moquin set up a 1 yard TD run by David Cannone (Matt and Danny Cannone's cousin). Caparell showed tremendous arm strength in this game, standing strong in the pocket, seeing the whole field and really putz some zip on the ball. He also scrambled for some tough yards and away from the pass rush. He showed why he's one of the top quarterbacks in the state.
The Bulldogs went on top 14-6 after the big kickoff return by York. Then they got the ball back with under a minute left in the 1st half, deep in their own end. When there was no just 30 seconds left in the half and they were still on their own end of the field, most folks in attendance figured Bedford would just run the ball or even take a knee and go into halftime up 14-6. After all, you would hate to throw a pick there and have it lead to a Portsmouth score right before halftime. But still, Bedford threw the ball anyways - and boy did work out perfectly. Vailas (starts at linebacker but is also the backup QB) caught a pitch, then dropped back a couple of steps and looked down field to throw it. Portsmouth was caught off guard by the play, leaving Collins open down the right sideline. He caught the ball and ran it 66 yards for the score, putting the Bulldogs up 21-6 going into halftime.
"We weren't ready for that play" said Portsmouth head coach Bill Murphy. "But if we see them in the playoffs we'll be prepared for it then, I can guarantee it. It was a great call by their coach though, he's done a nice job with that team."
Portsmouth had plenty of chances to make a comeback, but driving all the way down the field, getting deep into your opponent's territory only to have the ball intercepted in the end zone is tough to swallow. That happened twice, and on another possession it was 4th and 6 for Portsmouth on the Bedford 29 but Hartmann threw a pass which was intended for Colin MacDonald which fell incomplete right around the goal line. Mike Gardiner (who also gained some big yardage on kick returns) had great coverage on the play, especially considering he was covering a kid 7 inches taller than him.
The Clippers got a TD in the 2nd half, as Hartmann ran in an 8 yard score on a QB keeper up the middle. They then had a chance to make it a 1 score game, but once again the snap on the extra point attempt sailed over the holder's head. Bedford then added a field goal on their next drive from 25 yards out, but it was still a 2 score lead for the Bulldogs.
Jordan Garron had a big 2nd half running the ball for Bedford. The senior tail back ran for 78 yards on 12 carries in the 2nd half. This was quite a turnaround from the 1st half, when Garron ran for -8 yards on 4 carries. He simply had no running room in the 1st half, but in the 2nd half he had some holes and he made some really rough runs to pick up some big 1st downs.
"Our offense tightened up and got more focused in the 2nd half" said Garron, who was stopped at the 1 yard line on the last play of the game (it could have easily been a 31-12 win for Bedford if he had scored then).
Bedford did a good job of limiting the Portsmouth offense, which has put up some staggering numbers this season. They not only made 4 interceptions, but they forced Portsmouth to punt the ball 5 times. They also held Clippers play maker Billy Lane to just 29 yards rushing on the game and was held in check on his returns on special teams as well.
"Billy Lane is a great player" said Bedford head coach Kurt Hines. "He's an amazing athlete. We just tried to kick the ball away from him."
Bedford got interceptions from York, Matt Poremba and Vailas. In addition to Gardiner, they also got strong play defensively from Joe Thibeault, Robert Lamy, Will McInerny, Cannone, Matt Dillon (who also caught 3 passes for 27 yards on offense) and Jack Terzian.
In the last 2 weeks the high octane Portsmouth offense has been held to just 19 total points, Hartmann has thrown 7 INT's and the Clippers have lost both games. Their offense has simply been out of sync. One cause for this is that they have gone up against 2 VERY good defenses. Another cause is they've been playing the last couple weeks without senior wide out Kyle DiCesare, who is possibly their best receiver. DiCesare recently suffered a season-ending ankle injury (he is expected back for basketball season).
"Kyle had been getting better and better each week before he got hurt" said Coach Murphy. "So his injury is real unfortunate. Their have been some throws last couple weeks Billy would have had a better shot at competing if Kyle was out there. He's a big kid and an athletic player."
Despite the loss, one kid who really left it all out on the field and had a great game for Portsmouth was lineman Ricky Holt. Holt is only a junior and is an absolute beast out there, routinely plowing his way threw linemen, making big tackles, rushing the passer and blocking inside as well. Sean Miller and Kurtis Leonard also continue to play well on the line for the Clippers.
With the win, Bedford now has to be considered the favorite in Division III. Portsmouth has lost 2 in a row, and the other team that is in the race for a home playoff game (Goffstown) lost to Portsmouth 49-7 the week before that. So that leaves Bedford and Hollis as the 2 teams to beat. Bedford beat Hollis a couple weeks ago, but it went down to the wire and Hollis was playing without lineman Robert Boiven. Boiven is a captain, has bee starting on both lines for 3 years and is possibly the Cavalier's best player. Bedford is playing some VERY good football right now, but if Hollis can get healthy they ave a shot to beat them.
With a strong returning core group of players, Bedford has a shot at possibly winning back-to-back titles this year and next year (that's IF they stay in D-III). Of the 14 Bulldog players I mention in this article, only 4 of them are seniors. Their junior class (which is one of the best in the entire state regardless of division) includes Caparell, Cannone, Gardiner, Collins, McInerny, Thibeault, York and Terzian, while Vailas and Lamy are only sophomores. That's a lot of returning talent! If they stay in D-III they'll be the favorites and if they move up to D-II they will be a playoff team at the least.
Coverage of this game was sponsored by Samonas Realty, the Portsmouth real estate specialist. Visit www.SamonsRealty.com today!