NEW PARIS – Initially, Logan Pfister was glad Bedford opted to attempt a potential game-winning two-point conversion with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining in a battle of undefeated Bedford County rivals on Friday night.
Then, the Chestnut Ridge junior quarterback had second thoughts with his team leading by a point at Dr. Giovacchini Stadium.
“I was so nervous,” Pfister said moments after the Lions held on for a 20-19 victory in front of a huge crowd. “At one point, I was hoping they’d go for it so they’d miss it and we could win. At the same time, I was scared that they’d convert and we’d lose. I was just happy our defense made a play and we got the win.”
Pfister made more than a few plays for 7-0 Chestnut Ridge.
He completed 14 of 18 passes for 170 yards, including multiple clutch completions on roll outs and deep balls to keep scoring drives alive.
On the ground, Pfister carried 21 times for 111 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards in the third quarter as the Lions built a 20-13 advantage.
“Logan is special,” Chestnut Ridge veteran coach Max Shoemaker said, reprising terminology he’s used frequently the past two seasons. “He’s a tough kid too.
“That was the thing that probably carried us through more than anything else was that we were in some tough situations and we just persisted and we were determined not to be beaten.”
That was evident late in the game, as Bedford (6-1) took possession at its own 25-yard line with 3:21 left and trailing by seven. Quarterback Mercury Swaim hit Steven Ressler on passes of 33, 9 and 26 yards, the last one setting up Swaim’s 2-yard scoring run with 72 seconds on the clock.
Trailing 20-19, the Bisons lined up for a two-point conversion attempt to potentially take the lead.
The Lions defense pressured Swaim, who rolled to his right, avoiding tacklers and making an off-balance pass that was headed toward an open receiver in the back of the end zone. The Lions defense didn’t allow a completion and preserved the lead.
“The kids wanted to go for two,” Bedford coach Kevin Steele said. “It’s their team. They wanted to go for two and that’s what we decided to do. Credit to them for making a big play and stopping it.”
Shoemaker said the play could have gone in either team’s favor.
“He just made a great recovery,” Shoemaker said of junior cornerback Jordan Hillegass. “Swaim made a great throw. It looked like we had him boxed in and everybody was covered. He came back across the grain. Hillegass was drifting our way and made a great recovery and got a piece of it and knocked it loose.”
Swaim was in his third game as Bedford’s sole starting quarterback after sharing duties with Ressler the first three games. The sophomore rushed for 43 yards and a score and passed for 98 yards.
Elijah Cook carried 14 times for 73 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run with 8:55 left in the opening quarter that gave Bedford a 7-0 lead.
Chestnut Ridge’s Trey Maxwell (16 carries, 51 yards) capped an 89-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run that tied the game at 7-all at 10:45 of the second quarter.
The Lions appeared to have momentum and were headed to the end zone after Pfister ran 21 yards and then was about to finish a 10-yard dash until he fumbled near the goal line. Swaim scooped up the ball and returned it to the Chestnut Ridge 43. The score remained tied at halftime.
“A bunch of momentum swings,” Pfister siad. “Their opening drive they take for a touchdown. The opening kickoff at the half, huge momentum for them. I feel we fought back really hard. Our team had good morale. We kept our heads up and kept playing, kept grinding to get that win.”
Bedford’s Ressler returned the second-half kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, but the extra point attempt was misplayed, resulting in a 13-7 score.
“There were a lot of highs and lows throughout the game,” Bedford’s Steele said. “Their kids made a ton of plays. Our kids made some plays, but at the end of the day their kids made a few more plays and that’s why they won.”
The Lions had the ball most of the third quarter as Pfister scored on short runs after marches of 12 plays and nine plays.
The Lions defense, led by senior end Duane Knisely did its part until Bedford scored in the final minute.
“We just kept the energy high,” said Knisely, who made stops at crucial times in the third and fourth quarters.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. We trained hard this week at practice. There was a lot of energy and excitement to get out on the field tonight.
“I knew with the preparation we were going to be all right. We just had to keep together with a team effort. We did. It was great.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @masty81.