Central Catholic's Amir Edwards, left, stiff arms Bedford defender Spencer Cimerman. Edwards finished with 156 yards rushing.
After his team was blanked 35-0 by Central Catholic at home last season, Bedford football coach Jeff Wood was certain of one thing: his Kicking Mules would not be shut out again in this year's rematch.
That mission was accomplished Friday night at Central's Gallagher Stadium.
The trouble was, the host Fighting Irish had way too much offensively for Bedford to handle in a 49-28 nonleague victory over the Mules.
Photo gallery: Central Catholic vs. Bedford
Senior running back Amir Edwards led a balanced Irish ground game (362 yards) with 156 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and 6-foot-5 junior quarterback DeShone Kizer was 7-of-9 passing for 78 yards and a score, plus rushed five times for 70 yards and a TD as Central moved to 2-0.
Their work helped the Irish edge Bedford 440-407 in total offense, offsetting the impressive Mules junior trio of quarterback Brandon Boss (7-of-13 passing, 180 yards; 19 rushes for 79 yards), running back Alec Hullibarger (20 rushes, 105 yards, three TDs), and receiver Collin Carter (four catches, 160 yards, TD).
"The kids up front played very well, the backs were blocking for each other, and the wideouts were too," Central coach Greg Dempsey said. "Bedford's a very good young football team. They're going to win a lot of games. So, I was very happy with our offensive output.
"Defensively, that's a tough test. You're not going to find too many teams that run that [veer] offense better than they do. They lull you to sleep and then hit you with the big one, and they make it count when they do it."
Central Catholic defensive back Jayme Thompson runs back an interception 32 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter against Bedford to put the Irish up 35-14 mere minutes into the quarter.
The Mules dropped to 1-1 after a 43-3 win at Utica Ford in week 1.
A competitive first half saw Bedford match Central's first two touchdowns before heading to the break trailing 28-14.
The Irish drove 59 yards on eight plays on the game's first possession, and took a 7-0 lead after Paul Moses (seven carries, 75 yards) rammed in from the 1 just 3:43 into the game.
The Mules answered with a 10-play, 74-yard march which was extended when a gamble by Wood paid off midway. Facing a fourth-and-2 from his 48, Boss lined up as the punter, took the long snap, and ran 10 yards to get the first down.
Boss then hit Carter on a 36-yard pass to set up the first of Hullibarger's two three-yard TD runs in the half.
Central responded when Kizer turned a near sack into a 28-yard scoring pass to a wide-open Derich Weiland with 31.7 seconds left in the first quarter.
Bedford followed suit, using Carter's 40-yard kickoff return to launch a game-tying 55-yard TD drive, which was capped 7:12 before halftime on Hullibarger's second three-yard plunge.
The Irish refused to yield, however, needing just three plays to retake the lead. After Edwards ran for 10 and five yards, Kizer took a keeper around a wide-open left end and weaved his way downfield on a 54-yard touchdown run.
"This was the first time our team really faced adversity," Kizer said. "Bedford is a tough offense to execute [defensively] against. Our offense was forced to put up numbers, and we did what we were supposed to do."
After Bedford was forced to punt for the first time, Central had time for one more first-half score.
Cedric Gray closed an 11-play, 72-yard march on a one-yard TD run for a 28-14 lead with 39 seconds left in the half. The half ended on a hook-and-lateral play that covered 30 yards for Bedford to the Irish 25.
"We missed tackles," Wood said. "They are so elusive, and they're strong. Moses and Edwards are such strong, powerful runners. We chested up with them and still couldn't bring them down.
"We made a few mistakes up front, and we're going to correct those mistakes this week. They were more schematic mistakes, not a kid missing a block."
The Irish made it 35-14 just 2:32 into the third quarter when defensive back Jayme Thompson stepped in front of a Boss third-down pass and dashed 32 yards with the interception for a TD.
Bedford bounced back quickly from that miscue, when Boss fired a 72-yard TD pass to Carter just 18 seconds later.
But Central capitalized on a fumble by Boss, recovering at the Mules' 26. Edwards ran for 9, 9, and 8 yards to reach the end zone for a commanding 42-21 edge with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
Each team added a TD in the final quarter, with Moses scoring for Central on a 19-yard run, and Hullibarger adding his third touchdown on a two-yard plunge.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.