There was a different vibe at Sabourin Field on Friday night. The Bedford High School Buccaneers’ warmup music blew the speaker fuses. The rain, or the threat of rain, prevailed over the halftime performances.
And the opportunistic Foxborough Warriors, limited to six first downs and 164 offensive yards, nevertheless prevailed, 21-14. That was the Bucs’ first loss at home in almost 14 months. And for the second time in two years, they were beaten in the MIAA Division 4 state quarterfinals.
“It’s always disappointing,” said Head Coach Tom Tone on Saturday. “You can boil it down to four or five plays – and they made them.”
Foxborough, the sixth seed with a 6-4 record, focused its scheme on containing Bedford’s dynamic quarterback, senior Eric Miles. And it worked. Miles rushed 28 times, but only gained 10 yards once. He was sacked twice, resulting in a net 97 yards – the first time this year he hasn’t hit triple digits.
“We were able to move it, but we didn’t have the explosive play,” Tone said. “We thought if we gave enough times to Eric, he would break one, but they closed very quickly. They did a really good job defensively; they forced us into some things that we weren’t really great at.”
Bedford’s sole offensive score capped a six-play, 80-yard drive that took 70 seconds at the end of the first half, and it was almost entirely through the air.
Miles connected twice with Jayvon Williams on sideline passes for a total of 31 yards. Three plays later on fourth down from the Foxborough 49, the quarterback led Williams beautifully with a spiraling throw on the left side. A step ahead of the defense, the senior gathered it in. Nick Tartaczuk’s point-after-touchdown kick was deflected; Tone said the hold wasn’t clean.
Williams’s touchdown catch followed a Foxborough TD, facilitated by a successful fake punt from the Warrior 42 on a fourth-down-and-six. Sam Carpenter took the snap and discovered an acre of open space and carried 20 yards to the Bedford 38.
After a completion to the 16, the Warriors ran a couple of times before quarterback Mike Marcucella found Da’Myi Cameron wide open heading to the left side of the end zone – a 13-yard completion.
That 61-scoring drive accounted for 37 percent of Foxborough’s offense for the game. “Defensively, we played great,” Tone said.
Indeed, earlier in the second quarter, the Warriors opted for a 48-yard field goal attempt rather than try to convert a fourth-and-seven at the 32.
Carpenter, who has committed to the Big Ten program at Indiana as a placekicker, had the distance, but the kick was wide. “He’s incredible,” Tone said. “Every kickoff is a touchback when he wants to.”
Trailing 7-6 to open the second half, the Bucs over the next four-and-a-half minutes turned the ball over twice deep in Foxborough territory, resulting in 14 points.
The difficulties began with a short kickoff and a 15-yard penalty, and the Warriors were at the Bedford 44 before running a play. But the Bedford defense and a penalty on Foxborough soon led to fourth down near midfield.
Cian O’Donnell, the sure-handed sophomore punt returned, mishandled Carpenter’s kick and the Warriors recovered the muff at the 22. On second down, Marcucella registered one of his four completions of the game, down to the two. Running back Ben Angelini scored on the next play.
The Bucs soon faced a fourth-and-nine on the next possession and the Bucs didn’t hesitate – they went for it. But junior linebacker Lincoln Moore jumped the route on the right side, snagging the pass and returning to the two-yard line. Angelini’s rush and Carpenter’s kick made it 21-6 with 7:35 on the third-quarter clock.
“In hindsight, we should have punted it away,” Tone said, adding that he thought Moore “made an outstanding play.”
There was plenty of time for a dynamic offense like Bedford’s. But the Warriors were taking away the explosiveness.
So, what followed was the longest Bedford sustained drive of the season – maybe ever. The Bucs ran 21 plays over almost eight minutes. The campaign covered 74 yards; Bedford converted two fourth downs and collected five first downs – Foxborough had six for the entire game. Miles carried 13 times and completed three passes.
And it all came down to fourth-and-one at the Warrior six-yard line. Miles, taking the snap under center, was stuffed. Tone said there was a problem with the exchange.
The next Bedford series began near midfield with 4:46 to play. Miles completed a fourth-down pass for a first down; it was negated by a holding call. So, on fourth-and-17, Bedford surprised the Warriors when Miles threw to the two-way lineman Jamie Buchannan on his left flank. The play went for 13 yards.
Senior Ryan Cohen kept the team on life support, blocking Carpenter’s punt and running the ball into the end zone from around the 2-yard-line.
“It was a gigantic play,” Tone said. Miles threw to Tatarczuk for the two-point conversion, and Bedford trailed by seven with 3:40 on the clock.
Then the Warriors recovered the onside kick and they eventually converted a fourth-and-one to seal the win.
Miles’s passing yardage totaled 127; Williams made five receptions for 90 yards.
Tone didn’t feel that the rainy night was much of a factor. “I don’t think it gave anyone a particular advantage.”
Bedford has one game remaining: the renewed rivalry against Burlington High School at Sabourin Field at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
“The kids are disappointed, but they will be back at it,” Tone said. “We will be ready.”
Miles needs 126 yards to reach 2,000 for the season. His next touchdown will out him over 200 points.