Bedford High School's game plan against Belmont High School on Friday night, Sept. 20, was a simple equation: Senior running back Olan Abner + ball = win.
And Number 4 Abner delivered as the college-football prospect literally carried his fellow Buccaneers on his back, getting the ball a gaudy 38 times for a eye-popping 268 yards (and a pair of touchdowns) to lead Bedford to a 34-13 win over the host Marauders under the lights of Harris Field.
While Abner drove the ball downfield at four-to-eight yards a carry, the Bedford defense – led by its large front line – prevented Belmont from establishing any rhythm to their offense. In the second half, Belmont had the ball for all but 4 of the 22 minutes played.
Not that Belmont didn't give the crowd and band something to cheer about between the 34 points Bedford scored in between Belmont TDs.
In fact, the Marauders came out on the right foot when Joel (JD) Niles cut in front of a Bedford quarterback Joe Zampell pass for the intersection at the Belmont 12 on the first drive of the game.
On the second offensive play, junior running back Max Jones appeared to be wrapped up in the backfield but as he was going down, he spun out of the arms of the Bedford defender then tippy toed down the right sideline 86 yards for the touchdown, Belmont's first points of the season.Fans had to wait until the final two minutes of the game to see Belmont's freshman quarterback Chris Christofori went 4-4 passing including a 40 yard completion to Jones who tore the ball away from a Bedford defender on the ground and a bullet of a pass to a streaking Rob Aiello in the end zone.
Belmont's Head Coach Kevin Gildea said the team played its most consistent offensively in the first half in the first two games, although "I wish I could have a few of my calls back."
"We played hard but we didn't play together in the second half and that was disappointing," Gildea said, acknowledging that Bedford controlled the time of possession and were a bit bigger up front.
"They were literally playing three-and-a-half yards a play and getting the first down on several fourth downs," he said.
"So there are a lot of positives from the first half that we can take away from this game," Gildea said.