Bedford is now a perfect 7-0 on the season, but on Friday night (on their Senior Night) they got their toughest test of the season so far against the defending champs Concord. Senior Robert Law (arguably the best QB in the state) engineered a terrific drive in the closing minutes of regulation, ending in a touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie it up 16-16 and force overtime.
But then in OT senior Michael Vailas (arguably the best player in the state) scored on a 6 yard TD run (his third TD run of the game). Vailas ran in the 2-point conversion. Then on defense Vailas made the hit of the game, drilling Law in the backfield for a 5 yard loss. Concord had one last chance, on 4th and goal from the 5. Law's pass was deflected and fell incomplete, thanks to blanket coverage by Jonathan Hoaglund. Bedford wins 24-16 and then celebrate on their home field.
"We were feeling down after they got that 2-point conversion to tie it" said Vailas. "Our corner played it good, we just got unlucky on that play. Then when I scored the 2-point conversion it got me jacked up. And on defense, we saw they had 3 backs so I knew I could jump in and make the tackle."
Vailas is certainly making a strong case for 2014 NH Mr. Football. He's on an undefeated team, a consensus top 2 team in the state. And no other player in NH does more to help their team win.
Concord led 8-3 at halftime, as the Crimson Tide were playing some great defense to contain Vailas, Colin Cashin and the rest of the Bulldogs offense. Concord's defense was being led by Wyatt LaBombard, William Scharlotte and Leo Sudieh.
Bedford got the ball first to start the 2nd half, and that's when their offense came alive. Vailas broke loose for a 19 yard run. Then he connected on a couple of passes to keep moving the chains. Vailas then ran in an 18 yard touchdown. It appeared to be a broken play at first, but Vailas somehow stayed on his feet and kept running, finding some open space on the left side, breaking a tackle and going in for the score. That's just a play maker going out there and making a big play to help his team.
The PAT was good, and the Bulldogs now had their first lead, 10-8 with 5:18 left in the 3rd quarter. Concord was unable to answer back, as Jacob Gregson made a great tackle for Bedford and the Crimson Tide were forced to punt. Bedford possession now, and they kept the momentum rolling on offense. Cashin ran for a 12 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 Cashin for a 9 yard pickup. Then it was more Cashin, as the little guy with big toughness ran for a 15 yard gain,as Concord needed 4 guys to bring him down. Vailas then ran in a 7 yard TD, but Bedford was whistled for a holding penalty on the play - no TD. Sudieh made another great tackle on the edge, and then the Bulldogs were called for another holding to push them back further. Then on 4th and goal from the 10 yard line Bedford elected to go for the TD rather than the field goal. Vailas was sacked by LaBombard, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Bedford stepped up on defense though, forcing a Concord punt and getting the ball back. Vailas hit Taylor Larson for an 18 yard completion. Then on 3rd and 7 Vailas ran for an 8 yard gain and 1st down. Vailas again kept it himself, running for a 10 yard gain to set up 1st and goal on the 7 yard line. Sean Tierney ran it to the 2 yard line, and Vailas dove into the end zone from there.
"We made some adjustments to what they were doing defensively" said Bedford head coach Kurt Hines.
Now Bedford led 16-8, pending the PAT. ow this would be a crucial PAT attempt. There's only 3:53 left in the 4th quarter, and if the PAT is good it makes it a 2 possession game but if it misses then it's still a 1 possession game. Sudieh and Scharlotte both rushed in, and Scharlotte blocked the kick. It was still 16-8 and Concord still had a shot.
The Crimson made the most of that shot. Law went to work, leading his team down the field. The first big play Law made on the drive came on 4th and 6 from his own 46 yard line. If Concord doesn't convert here the game is likely over. But they did convert, as Law completed a 22 yard pass to Kevin Condict. Then he hit Sudieh for another 1st down completion. Then Law ran in the 5 yard TD on a keeper. He got a good inside block and ran it outside the tackle on the right side.
Now came the crucial 2-point conversion attempt. The Crimson Tide needed to convert here for the tie. Law scrambled right, just as he got hit he threw the ball and connected with Condict who caught the ball on the 1 yard and then dove into the end zone for the score. We were tied 16-16 with 1:37 remaining.
"We try to get Robert outside the pocket, moving around so he can make plays" said Concord head coach Eric Brown.
Now it's Bedford ball, looking to score and win it in regulation. The Concord defense stepped up though, bringing up 3rd and 9 from midfield. Vailas' pass fell incomplete, thanks to great coverage by Jacob Lewis. Bedford punted, giving Concord the ball back. Law took a knee and we were headed to overtime.
Bedford ball first in OT. Vailas ran in the TD from 6 yards out, and then ran in the 2 point conversion as well.
"We were going to kick the PAT but they got called for a false start" said Coach Hines. So we had the ball on the one and a half yard line and decided to go for 2 instead."
Now the pressure was again on Concord. They needed a touchdown and 2 point conversion in order to force a 2nd OT. On their 1st down play though Vailas made the hit of the game. As soon as the Crimson Tide snapped the ball Vailas was already in the back field, delivering a crushing hit to Law.
"That first play set us back and put us in a hole" said Coach Brown.
On 3rd and goal from the 15 Law connected with Sudieh for a screen pass, bringing up 4th and goal from the 5. This was it, Concord's last chance. If they don't convert here they lose the game, and possibly miss the playoffs after going unbeaten a year ago. Law scrambled right, threw it towards the end zone but the pass was defended well and deflected by Hoaglund. Game over, Bedford wins.
"We condition our kids to be in good shape and not get beat in the 4th quarter" said Hines.
The 1st half was dominated by defense. Concord had the ball first, and Christian Joseph made a good tackle for the Bulldogs. Law hit Joshua Ames for a 14 yard pass, but then Ryan Belz made a good tackle and then Belz and Thomas O'Rourke combined for a big hit. The Crimson Tide were forced to punt.
Scharlotte made a good hit on 'D' for Concord on 3rd and 7, and Bedford was was also forced to punt on their first drive. However Concord return man Jayln Stone fumbled the ball as he tried to catch the punt, and it was recovered by Michael Landman for Bedford. The Bulldogs weren't able to capitalize and were forced to punt again.
Then came a long drive which resulted in a TD for Concord. Law threw it to Sudieh, but Vailas delivered a big hit to knock the ball out. On 3rd and 10 from their own 33 yard line, Law completed a 13 yard pass to Stone for the 1st down. Belz made another good hit, but then it was Law to Sudieh for a screen pass that went for 16 yards on 3rd and 10 from their own 46 yard line. Then Eric Glassman (one of the state's top defensive players) sacked Law for a loss of 10 yards. Gregson then made a good tackle for a loss. Then it was 3rd and 3 from the 49 yard line and Law scrambled for an 18 yard run.
"Law's a tough player, he's even faster now than when we played them last year" Hines mentioned.
Then on 4th and 5 from the Bedford 32 yard line Law connected with Stone for a 6 yard gain and 1st down. Ames ran for a 9 yard pickup, and then a 10 yard run by Law set up 1st and goal on the 7. Bedford's defense stepped up though, as Josef and Alexander Skillings teamed up for a tackle and loss of 2. That brought up 4th and goal from the 6 yard line. Law's pass to the end zone fell incomplete but Bedford was whistled for a pass interference. Concord now had another shot at it on 4th down, this time from the 3 yard line. Law rolled right, avoided the sack and found Stone in the end zone for the score. The Crimson Tide used some trickery on the 2-point conversion, as Lewis threw the ball to a wide open Alex Gosselin in the end zone for the score. 8-0 Concord, 9:00 left in the 2nd quarter.
Bedford ball trying to answer back, but their offensive woes continued. Ames rushed from Vailas' blind side for the sack. Scharlotte then rushed the passer, forcing an incomplete pass by Vailas.
The defensive battle continued, and later in the 2nd quarter Glassman sacked Law for a loss of 5. Then Law scrambled out of the pocket, threw the ball on the run near the Bedford sideline and his pass was picked off by Daniel Flynn.
The Bulldogs now had great field position, on the Concord 39. Vailas threw it to Andrew Penaskovic for a 17 yard gain and then to Thomas Reynolds for an 11 yard pickup. Scharlotte and Mario Lita teamed up for a sack and loss of 6. The clock was ticking, only 23 seconds left in the half. Sudieh made another good tackle, preventing a long run by Vailas. Then it was 4th down from the Concord 15 yard line. Bedford elected to go for the field goal rather than the TD and the 32 yard FG was good by Cooper Anibal. It was 8-3 Concord at halftime.