Saturday, October 27, 2012

Late TD's Push Bedford Past Spaulding

Once again we see that Division II is a very tough division and on any given week any of the division's top 8 teams can beat the other. Keene, Bedford and Winnacunnet and are all 1-1 against each other. Manchester West beat Keene, Dover beat West and Timberlane beat Dover. It's a very competitive division, and you never know what's going to happen!

On Friday night Bedford traveled to the Lilac City of Rochester to take on a a feisty Spaulding team. Spaulding is a team that had high hopes going into the season after they were the best story in NH football in 2011. But one of their best players Tyrone Scott broke his arm in the preseason and it never healed. That made things tough on the, but they still gave Bedford all they could handle tonight and if it wasn't for a missed extra point this game would have likely gone to overtime.

Bedford has beaten Dover and Spaulding in their last 2 games. Now you might look at the standings and say that it's no big deal because these are games that the Bulldogs should win. But again, this is a very tough division. And even the teams lower down in the standings are dangerous.

In fact with 5 minutes left in the game it was Spaulding 20 Bedford 14. But Bedford scored 2 touchdowns in the game's closing minutes to escape Rochester with a 28-20.

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"Spaulding and Dover are both really tough teams" said Bedford head coach Kurt Hines. "We thought Spaulding would be good, but they were even better than we thought. But our kids came back, they played their hearts out and played hard. One of our players just had his grandmother pass away so this was an emotional win."

Just like he did in the Dover game, Bedford senior QB James Caparell led a terrific 4th quarter drive that put the Bulldogs ahead. Caparell made some big time plays on the drive. The first big play came on 3rd and 10 for BHS on their own 30. Caparell dropped back to pass, had time but no one was open. He was patient, poised in the pocket. Then as the pocket collapsed he took off and ran with it. Not only did he pick up the first down, but he ran for 30 yards to the Spaulding 40 AND also got out of bounds to stop the clock.

"It was a pass play, but they all dropped back" said Caparell, who completed his first 12 passes in a row and ended up going 13/17 for 160 yards and 2 TD's. "The receivers made some good blocks for me down field."

Then Spaulding junior Tyler Snow sacked Caparell for an 8 yard loss pushing Bedford back to the 48. It was Snow's second sack of the game. Snow also rushed for 49 yards on just 5 carries.

Caparell bounced back from the sack to make yet another big play on the Bulldog's go-ahead drive. He found junior WR/DB Nick Vailas coming across the middle of the field for a 35 yard pass play down to the Spaulding 13. It was an amazing catch by Vailas, who leaped up in the air, dove and made the grab while twisting and turning his body in mid-air to adjust to the ball and while also getting hit by the DB at the same time.

"It was 1 on 1 coverage on a nickel defense" Caparell explained. "I'll take that any day."

A couple of plays later Caparell ran in the touchdown from 5 yards out. He had 2 TD's passing (both to Vailas) and 1 TD rushing. The extra point from junior kicker Keelan McCoole was good, and the Bulldogs went up 21-20 with 4:14 left in the 4th quarter.

That extra point turned was big. It would have just made it a tie game 21-21. However Spaulding missed the PAT on their last score.

So now instead of the game being tied, Spaulding got the ball back with about 4 minutes left, trailing by a point. From that point on though the Bedford defense really stepped up, and the Red Raiders couldn't get anything else going on offense. When Spaulding had success on offense in this game it was when they were grinding out drives with the run behind explosive junior back Trevon Scott, who had 235 yards rushing and 3 TD's on 28 carries.

But now that they were playing from behind and there wasn't much time left they had to throw the ball. The Bulldogs knew that and they started blitzing Spaulding QB Sam Oullette. Jack Terzian, Andrew Biederman, Aaron Palys, David Cannone, Nick Vailas, Joe Thibeault and Mike Vailas all played well defensively for Bedford.

Spaulding had a crucial 4th down and 5 play on the Bedford 36 yard line. But Oullette's pass fell incomplete, resulting in a turnover on downs. There was now just 1:31 left to play.

At the time it looked like that was the nail in the Red Raiders' coffin. However they were able to get the ball back and get another crack at the win. Why is that? Because they let Bedford score on their next drive! Bulldogs senior RB/DB Dylan York took a hand-off and went virtually untouched for a 64 yard touchdown run. After the PAT it was 28-20 Bedford. York ended up with 119 rushing yards and 1 TD on just 11 carries.

"That was planned" said Spaulding head coach Claude Gagnon. "We told our kids to let them score so we could get the ball back."

It was a smart move by the Spaulding coaches. Even after the York TD run it was still only a 1 score game. And even though they were now down by a TD instead of a FG the bottom line is they needed to get the ball back to have any chance at all. By letting Bedford score they got that chance.

Unfortunately though Spaulding wasn't able to cash in on their next possession. They turned the ball over on 4 plays. Bedford then took over on downs and took a knee. Game over.

Things got crazy in the 3rd quarter with back-and-forth action that was fun to watch. It was tied 7-7 at halftime, but BHS got the ball first in the 2nd half and scored on a 5 yard TD pass from Caparell to Nick Vailas. It was Vailas' second TD catch of the game, with the first one coming with just :01 left in the 1st half from 1 yard out.

Spaulding then got the ball back, trailing 14-7. On the second play of the drive Scott broke through the middle of the Bulldog's defense and ran 73 yards for his second of 3 TD runs on the game. This was a big game for Scott, who showed great breakaway speed, good vision and elusive moves.

Scott has become the first Spaulding player since 1985 to rush for over 1,00 yards.

Spaulding will miss the playoffs this year but they have a strong core of returning players coming back, including Scott, Snow, Tanner Daniels, Anthony Diprizio, Michael Melendez and Nathan Burke.

"We had to play a lot of sophomores and juniors this year" said Coach Gagnon. "That will help us next year. We just have to get the culture of winning changed around here."

Bedford meanwhile has their sights set on a division title. If they can beat Merrimack next week (who is winless in the division) they will clinch a home playoff game, and if Winnacunnet loses to BG next weekend then the Bulldogs will have a chance to be the #1 seed going into the D-II playoffs.

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