Bedford was a model of football efficiency Friday night, grinding out 335 yards of offense and scoring one touchdown in each quarter in taking a 28-6 victory over visiting Westland John Glenn in a Michigan Division 1 first-round playoff game.
The Kicking Mules’ 6-foot-3, 205-pound running back Alec Hullibarger pounded out 88 yards on 18 carries, and tallied all four TDs on runs of 15, 2, 3, and 2 yards.
Bedford (10-0), which ate huge portions of the clock with nearly every possession, never punted, and scored on four of its seven drives in the game.
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Rockets running back Devon Spalding, who had rushed for more than 1,900 yards this season coming in, was limited by Bedford to 93 yards on 25 carries.
“I just love how our kids played,” Bedford coach Jeff Wood said. “They just kept grinding it out on every possession. What was great is that we didn’t turn the ball over, and we just kept after them.”
Wood’s team is still dealing with the tragic death of senior team member Colton Durbin after an auto accident last week.
“It was still emotional this week,” Wood said. “These kids came back. They were finished with the funeral at 5:30 [p.m.], and they wanted to practice Monday night.
“I give them all the credit because they wanted to focus and wanted to get their minds off of it. But, we still believe in ‘3’ [Durbin’s jersey number].”
The Mules will face Southeastern Conference Red Division rival Saline (9-1) at home in next week’s second-round playoff game. Bedford defeated Saline 33-17 on Sept. 27 in a game that decided the Red Division title.
Mules quarterback Brad Boss rushed 17 times for 71 yards, and completed all five of his passes for 54 yards on Friday.
“We didn’t miss many assignments tonight,” Boss said. “We got five yards at a time and just ate the clock up.
“It’s been rough these past couple weeks. Just to go out there and get a win for [Durbin] feels great.”
Bedford wasted little time taking the lead.
After the defense forced a punt, the Bedford offense drove 52 yards on seven plays, with Hullibarger bursting through the middle on his 15-yard scoring run with 6:17 left in the first quarter.
“Our defense made sure they got us the ball back,” Hullibarger said. “It starts with them getting it to us, and our offensive line fired out. They got us rolling. I just follow them every play. Our offense is ‘six-six-move-the-sticks.’ ”
Bedford made it 2-for-2 on scoring drives, this time covering 56 yards on 11 plays, all runs. Once again, Hullibarger supplied the finishing touch, going two yards over left tackle, and the Mules were up 14-0 with 4:50 left in the first half.
That was enough time for the visiting Rockets (6-4) to march 65 yards on 10 plays. That drive opened with a 24-yard completion by quarterback Chris Scheffer to Brian Hazzard, and the remaining 41 yards all came on nine straight rushes.
Eight of those (for 40 yards) came from Spalding, who ran the final seven yards around left end 28 seconds before halftime.
The Mules’s third-quarter TD came after Hullibarger was stopped on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1. Bedford got the ball back at the Rockets 29 after a punt, and Hullibarger’s third score came five plays later. He added his fourth TD with 4:23 left in the game.
Bedford held the Rockets to 195 yards on total offense, with 70 yards coming on a 70-yard halfback pass from Spalding to Jaylen Peete with four minutes remaining.
Teammate Connor Clements added 74 yards on just two official rushing attempts, with 10 of those coming on the finishing end of a hook-and-ladder play that ended the first half.
“Saline’s coming in,” Hullibarger said. “It should be a good game. It’s a big rivalry. We’re going to go to work [today] and Monday, and just try to get better every day.”
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.