BEDFORD – Eight different Bedford Bisons backs had carries for positive yardage on Friday night.

Coach Kevin Steele’s team collected 14 rushing first downs and five touchdowns on the ground.

The Bisons netted 330 rushing yards and threw just enough passes to add one more touchdown in a 41-8 victory over visiting Forest Hills.

“The line definitely did a really good job and I just followed the blocks,” said Bedford junior running back Elijah Cook, who carried 12 times for 89 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns for 2-0 Bedford.

“We still have a couple mistakes to fix, but we’re starting to come together,” added quarterback/receiver Steve Ressler, who passed for a 35-yard touchdown and had a 12-yard scoring run among his 50 rushing yards. “When we get to the prime time of the season, we should be hitting on all cylinders.”

A youthful Forest Hills squad lost its second game of the season, though the Rangers effectively moved the ball on an early drive and eventually collected 101 yards on the ground and 175 through the air.

“Not making any kind of excuses. It’s the fact that we lost a lot of guys from last year. We lost a lot of superstars,” Forest Hills first-year head coach Justin Myers said. “These guys right now don’t know how to be that guy. It’s my job as a coach to prepare them and have them believe they’re going to be that guy.

“We knew it was going to be rough this year,” he added. 

“There are no surprises because of the lack of experience we have coming back. What we’re preaching to these kids is to believe they’re going to get better and going to improve.”

Forest Hills capitalized on an early fumble and mounted a 12-play drive. The Rangers were poised to score as Damon Crawley got inside the 10 on a first-down run, but a penalty negated the play. Eventually the drive stalled on downs at the Bisons 22-yard line.

“The first half, we had chances to make plays and chances to put the ball in the end zone,” Myers said.

Bedford responded with a nine-play, 78-yard march, using all runs, to score via Cook’s 8-yard dash with 1:32 remaining in the opening quarter.

“That definitely set the tone for the first quarter,” Cook said. “After the turnover, we definitely cleaned up and said, ‘That’s it.’ ”

Miles Washington caught the conversion pass from Mercury Swaim to make it 8-0.

The Bisons had six runs of 8 or more yards during the drive, including four runs of 10-plus yards.

“It’s big to score first,” Bedford coach Kevin Steele said. 

“The turnover was a disappointing start to the offensive portion of our game. That being said, we were able to come out and play good solid defense and eventually get on the board first and get things rolling from there.”

In the second quarter, Gregory Edwards’ long punt return set up Ressler’s 12-yard touchdown run. Lizzy Martz booted the extra point to make it 15-0 at 10:30.

Washington’s 10-yard touchdown run and a Martz extra-point set a 22-0 score at 7:43.

“Our line has played really well the last two weeks and hopefully that will be a strength of ours throughout the entire season,” Steele said. “We also have several backs who can run the ball. When they find the seam, they can make the plays. We had several kids make big plays for us on the offensive side of the ball for us.”

Forest Hills answered with a 72-yard drive. Junior quarterback Zach Myers hit senior Seth Richardson for a 41-yard pass to convert a fourth down and set up Crawley’s 5-yard touchdown. Junior Brad Madigan caught Myers’ conversion pass to pull the Rangers within 14 points.

Crawley had 67 yards on 20 carries, and Zach Myers completed 12 of 26 passes for 165 yards.

Cook reestablished the Bisons’ advantage with a 9-yard touchdown run, setting a 28-8 score 1:03 before the half.

Ressler picked up a blitz and found Swaim open in stride for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 2:18 showing on the third-quarter clock. Martz’s extra-point made it 35-8.

“We certainly weren’t balanced, but we were able to mix in enough passes to keep them honest,” Steele said. “We’ll take that. We’ll have to fix our mistakes and get ready for Bishop McCort (in Week 3).”

A couple of penalties negated two big plays by the Bisons. 

But Swaim, at the quarterback spot, kept the ball, found a hole and outraced the defense for a 70-yard touchdown that made it 41-8 with 7:05 remaining in the game.

Swaim rushed for 114 yards on five carries and passed for 9 yards. Ashton Dull added 48 rushing yards on five attempts.

“Right now we’re running the gauntlet, playing probably the three best teams in the Laurel Highlands,” said Coach Myers, whose team plays 2-0 Richland next week and lost at Chestnut Ridge in Week 1. “We knew it was going to be a challenge. The way our guys came out in the second half, I was proud of them. They had a little bit of fire in their belly.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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