NEW PARIS, Pa. – One play can change the entire complexion of a football game.
In Bedford’s case, the Bisons defense made a goal-line stand to hold off a Chestnut Ridge threat before halftime, which swung the momentum in the defending Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference champions favor for the remainder of the contest, as Bedford defeated the Lions 34-16 on Friday night.
“Anytime we can beat a local rival is always exciting,” Bedford coach Kevin Steele said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but our kids battled tonight, and I loved their defense. Obviously that goal-line stop was huge. It was one of the pivotal points in the game, and we were able to control it from there.”
With the game tied 7-all midway through the second quarter, Bedford stopped four consecutive Chestnut Ridge running plays on the 1-yard line to force a turnover on downs.
The Bisons then drove the length of the field in just over four minutes, with Mercury Swaim finding the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run to put Bedford ahead 14-7 at the break.
Bedford, after punting twice to begin the game, scored its final four offensive drives in the game, including 2-for-2 in the second half, while also getting a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Zach Vent in the third quarter.
“I think our kids just started to execute a little better,” Steele said of the turnaround. “We had a couple miscues early, which our kids cleaned up after the first two drives. Part of that was Chestnut Ridge playing good defense, have to give them credit, but we did as well.”
Nick Presnell’s 8-yard touchdown run on the Lions’ first drive gave Chestnut Ridge a 7-0 lead after one quarter. The Bisons then outscored the Lions 27-3 in the second and third to gain the advantage.
“The big difference in the game was we gave them a couple easy scores, and we couldn’t capitalize and get six points,” Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said. “Our kids competed and went toe to toe with a very good football team. I told them I was proud, and that we’ll be alright if we compete at this level.”
Nate Whysong helped lead the Lions down the field, completing 13 of 18 passes for 145 yards and rushing for 50 more, but the Lions were unable to find the end zone.
Ben Whisker hit a 22-yard field goal for the Lions to open the second half, cutting the Bedford lead to 14-10, but Swaim found J.J. Arnold on a seam route for a 55-yard touchdown pass, and Vent’s fumble return put the Bisons in front 27-10 after three.
Bedford’s Max Washington scored on a 4-yard touchdown run, while Matt Whysong added a touchdown for Chestnut Ridge in the fourth to set the final.
Bedford (3-0) will face fellow undefeated LHAC power Richland on Friday. Chestnut Ridge (1-2) will travel to Bishop McCort.
“We have to stay positive and keep the kids at an even keel,” said Shoemaker.
, whose team, after its original Week 1 loss, is under .500 for the first time since 2015. “We just have to keep working to get better, and hopefully we can execute by finishing drives and paying attention to the finer details, which will hopefully bring us home a win.”