Unbeaten no more
With six seconds left, the Bedford High School football team had one final chance.
Bedford quarterback Dan Colella got the snap, but he had no time to throw, as Concord’s Walters Ndi brought pressure from Colella’s left. Ndi hauled Colella down for a loss, and even though the game clock never started, the officials ruled that time had run out and Concord held on for a 34-27 victory over Bedford at Memorial Field on Friday.
The win moves Concord to 7-0 in the Division I North Conference, giving the Tide a one-game lead over Bedford for first place.
On a night when the Tide couldn’t get its running game going, Law stepped up, completing 22 of 25 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. The junior connected with Bakir Bascelic, Marc Gaudet and Seimou Smith for scoring plays of 10, 4 and 29 yards, respectively. Gaudet also ran for two touchdowns to go with seven catches and 67 yards receiving, while Smith caught nine passes for 86 yards.
Defensively, Bedford (6-1) struggled to get the right coverage against Concord’s passing game.
“We weren’t dropping into coverage with our linebackers to the depth that we needed to,” Bedford coach Kurt Hines said. “They took advantage of that and they did a good job. (Law) is very good and we knew that.”
Colella turned in a solid night, completing 14 of 22 passes for 144 yards and touchdown, while also running for a score. But the senior also lost two fumbles, including one late in the first half at Bedford’s 4-yard line that Concord turned into a touchdown and a 20-6 lead.
“We made a lot of costly mistakes that we can’t afford to make in a game like this, but I’m proud of them,” Hines said. “They didn’t give up and it came down to the final play.”
The Bulldogs made the game’s first big play, when running back Aaron Palys found a hole up the middle and outran the Concord defense for an 85-yard touchdown run midway through the opening quarter.
But the Tide answered right back, returning the ensuing kickoff to midfield and then needing just seven plays to go the rest of the way, scoring on a 14-yard run by Gaudet. On the drive, Law and Gaudet connected for a 36-yard catch-and-run on third-and-20 to move the chains.
After a Bedford punt, Concord put together a 14-play, 59-yard drive that included a third-down and fourth-down conversion, and ended with a 3-yard run by Gaudet. The Tide successfully went for two and led 14-7 with 6:51 left in the half.
Law’s scoring pass to Bascelic made it 20-6 with under a minute to go until halftime, but Mike Vailas got Bedford back within in a score in third quarter, when he returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown.
Once again, Concord put together a long drive, this time, aided by two Bedford personal foul penalties, including one on an incompletion on fourth-and-18 that would have given the Bulldogs the ball. Instead, Law hit Gaudet with a 4-yard TD pass for a 26-14 lead with 3:23 left in the third.
“We responded pretty much, when they scored, we responded with a score ourselves,” Concord coach Eric Brown said. “That’s a testament to our team, that we responded like that.”
Colella and Law traded passing touchdowns after that. Nick Valais caught a 30-yard strike from Colella, and Concord blocked the kick to stay up six, 26-20.
But Law again answered, connecting with Smith for a 29-yard score, and the two-point conversion made it 34-20.
After Colella’s rushing touchdown made it a seven-point game, Bedford’s defense made a stop. The Bulldogs got the ball at their own 37 with 55.8 seconds left and one timeout.
Passes to Palys and Nate Jaeger, sandwiched around a run by Colella, gave Bedford a first down at the Concord 29. The Bulldogs spiked the ball with six seconds left, and after a Tide timeout, Bedford ran its final play.
“We doubled up Nick Vailas and then we brought pressure from (Ndi) on the other side,” Brown said. “That was a huge play. We didn’t want Colella to just stand back there and have time. We wanted to bring pressure and we hadn’t brought a lot of outside pressure during the game, we brought it more from our inside linebackers.”
“They dropped five guys deep and they brought the pressure off the right side,” Hines said. “The thing I love about Dan (Colella) is that he doesn’t hang his head at all. He does not get fazed by what is going on and he did a good job. We’ll see them again, but only if we take care of business. This will serve us well.”