Michael Vailas solidified his status as one of the top players in NH high school football, Bedford showed that they're arguably the best team in the state, and the Bulldogs avenged their 2011 championship game loss. The result was an emphatic 37-7 win for Bedford over Portsmouth on Friday night in Division I.
Vailas was an absolute beast in this game, rushing for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries, passing for 1 TD and on defense he intercepted 2 passes, one of which he returned 45 yards for a score. Vailas also returned punts, which helped Bedford in the battle of field position, which they won throughout. Great players make big plays and Vailas did just that. Additionally, senior running back Colin Cashin stepped up, rushing for 126 yards and 1 TD.
"We wanted redemption" said Bedford head coach Kurt Hines. "I'm pleased with how we played. Mike Vailas is a very versatile player, that' why I put him at quarterback. We had difficult circumstances, with starting running back Mike Collins breaking his leg in four places during Wednesday's practice. But the kids responded and I'm proud of them."
Bedford was also playing without senior linebacker Thomas O'Rourke. According to Coach Hines, O'Rourke suffered a broken jaw over the summer and he's not sure when O'Rourke will return to the lineup.
Portsmouth was also playing short handed, as they played without star FB/LB Mikel Toar. Initially it was thought he was suspended for just the first 2 games of the season but it now looks like it may be more.
"It will be at least one more week without him, because progress reports don't come out until after next week's game" said Portsmouth head coach Brian Pafford. Bedford is good and very fast, but our tackling was awful. A bright spot was the play of Ryan Edney, only a junior. He wasn't a starter for us before, but with the way he played tonight he'll be a starter now - he earned it."
Vailas set the tone early, intercepting a Connor DiCesare pass on the first drive of the game. That gave the Bulldogs the ball on the Portsmouth 23 yard line, but the Clippers defense stepped up, as Devon Wilson-Miles and Quintin Desjardins made good tackles and then Christian Peete intercepted Vailas on 4th and 10.
edford got on the board on their next drive though, as Vailas scampered into the end zone from 9 yards out. Cashin converted a crucial 4th and 2 run for a 5 yard pickup which set up the TD.
With Toar out of the lineup it put much more pressure on DiCesare to make plays throwing the football, but in the 1st half he went just 3/12 passing for 24 yards and 2 interceptions. Bedford's defense is very good, they're going to cause nightmares for QBs all season. Ryan Belz, Vailas, Eric Glassman, Jacob Gregson, Daniel Flynn and Adam Stone all had strong games for the Bulldog's 'D'.
"We just weren't clicking on offense" explained Coach Pafford.
It continued to be a defensive battle, as Vailas picked off his second pass of the game, this time returning it 45 yards for the score and it was 14-0 Bedford with 6:59 left in the 2nd quarter. After a Portsmouth punt the Bulldogs got the ball back. An 18 yard run by Sean Tierney got them in scoring position, and then Vailas scrambled out of the pocket, escaped a sack by Wilson-Miles and ran in a 15 yard TD to make it 21-0 Bedford. That was the score at halftime.
Portsmouth showed some life and signs of a comeback in the 3rd quarter, as DiCesare connected with Loden Formichelli for a 2 yard TD. The score was set up by a 30 yard pass play from DiCesare to Peete. Portsmouth now trailed 21-7, and then Edney recovered a fumble on the ensuing Bedford possession. The Clippers now had a chance to make it a 1 score game, but then they gave the ball right back to Bedford, as DiCesare fumbled at the end of a 16 yard run.
Bedford then capitalized on the turnover, as Vailas ran 14 yards on an option play followed by a 4 yard TD run by Cashin. The Bulldogs then added a 15 yard TD pass from Vailas to a wide open Nicholas Leahy and a safety on defense. That made it 37-7 Bulldogs and then both teams started pulling starters.
"We need to play more physical to compete in Division I" lamented Pafford.