Saline football's offense held in check in 14-7 loss to Temperance Bedford
TEMPERANCE - Trailing 14-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Saline High School football team - held in check the entire third quarter - was aching for the equalizer.
After marching from their own 20-yard-line down to Temperance Bedford’s 16, the Hornets faced a pivotal fourth-and-seven decision. There, Saline rolled the dice when quarterback Trey Heren rolled right before flinging an on-the-run pass no Hornet could haul in.
Saline never saw better field position again in its 14-7 loss to Bedford in a Southeastern Conference Red Division showdown Friday at Bedford Community Stadium.
More coverage at MLive.com: Boxscore
“We just got stopped a few times and that was the deciding factor the whole game. That last drive there That was it. We needed that first down,” said Saline running back Garrett Gordon, whose team turned the ball over on downs twice.
“The fourth down situations that they didn’t convert on were big,” said Bedford coach Jeff Wood. “We just played very well defensively and made some key stops at the right times.”
Nevertheless, it was Saline (2-2, 1-2 SEC) which had the Bedford (4-0, 3-0 SEC) defense playing on its heels at the start.
Following the Kicking Mules’ three-and-out opening drive, the Hornets quickly found themselves in the red zone, thanks to 29- and 19-yard completions from Heren to Austin McBee. The aerial game set up Gordon’s 11-yard touchdown run on his first carry. Dylan Mulder nailed the point-after and Saline held a 7-0 lead at 7 minutes, 31 seconds.
Gordon carried the ball 18 more times for a game-high 153 rushing yards, including 102 in the first half.
“He’s just a great back,” shrugged Wood. “Their offense was just mowing it down the field.”
The ground, however, shifted for Saline when - after the defense forced the Mules into another three-and-out - Heren was picked off at Bedford’s 23-yard-line by Tyler Hooven.
Bedford promptly orchestrated a 13-play, seven-minute drive that ended in trickery, as running back Tom Ferry took a pitch, planted his feet and tossed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Troy Prybylek. The Mules tacked on the extra-point to deadlock the count at 7-7 with 8:39 left in the half.
“There were a few slip-ups (defensively). A few mess ups on the offensive side, as well,” admitted Gordon.
Gordon nearly put the Hornets in position to take a lead in the first minute of the second half, taking handoffs 15 and 25 yards to sit Saline on Bedford’s 40 with 24 seconds left. But Bedford sacked Heren for an 11-yard loss on the ensuing play to end the frame.
Bedford’s defense carried its momentum into the second half, forcing Saline to punt to open the third.
Once again, the Kicking Mules methodically moved the chains, led by the legs of quarterback Jared Kujawa, who rushed for 32 yards on the drive. His final seven came on a keeper he took into the end zone, capping off a 13-play, six-minute drive to give Bedford a 14-7 lead.
Saline’s next drive was highlighted by wide out Nick Ostrander cradling a tipped-pass in the middle of the field for a 21-yard catch. The drive, however, was low lighted by Saline’s fourth-and-seven that came up empty.
“We played our hardest. We did what we could,” said Gordon, who isn’t worried about his team’s morale. “We’re going to be fine. We never stop fighting. We’re going to get Monroe next week.”
For Bedford, it’s the program’s third year in a row defeating Saline.
“I give Saline a lot of credit, that is a great football team over there,” said Wood. “If you want to win the SEC Red you have to go through Saline and Pioneer. We got one of them.”