TEMPERANCE — Between the botched snaps from the shotgun, a handful of first-half penalties, and the near-absence of its opponent’s running game, the Bedford football team had no choice but to capitalize against a struggling team.
The Kicking Mules took advantage of a series of first-half miscues to earn a 42-6 win over Ann Arbor Pioneer.
“Our defense really stepped up for us, and they give us opportunities to score every game on those kinds of plays,” said Alec Hullibarger, who scored a pair of first-half touchdowns for the Mules. “We’ve got to follow their lead, every game.”
Bedford’s defense did just that against the Pioneers. Its offense, which averaged nearly 46 points in its first five games, continued its pace.
Hullibarger finished with 84 yards on 11 carries to help Bedford (6-0) earn an MHSAA playoff berth with the win over Pioneer. The key to Bedford’s six wins? Keeping a steady pace.
“We can never be satisfied with one win,” said Bedford quarterback Brad Boss, who finished with only 44 yards passing on two completions, but led his team with 147 yards on 17 carries. “You’ve got to keep going and take it day by day, and just get better.”
Lucas Mayo recovered a botched snap that was out of the reach of Pioneer quarterback John Kunec, which set up Hullibarger’s first touchdown, a five-yard run that gave Bedford a 7-0 lead with 2:23 left in the first half.
Hullibarger scored his second touchdown three minutes into the second quarter, and Boss (two-yard run) and Collin Carter (41-yard pass from Boss) each scored a touchdown to help the Kicking Mules take a 28-0 lead.
Bradley Koenig scored Pioneer’s only touchdown, an 85-yard pass from Kunec (10 for 19 passing, 151 yards, two interceptions) with 2:56 left in the first half.
By halftime, the Kicking Mules had a 28-6 lead and had limited Pioneer (2-4) to 148 total yards — the Pioneers had negative-6 yards rushing in the first half.
“We caught a couple breaks and made them pay, and our defense picked us up a few times,” Boss said.
Still, Hullibarger said his team’s play left much to be desired.
“We weren’t very fired up,” the senior fullback said. “We were acting like we were down because we knew we could play a lot better than we did.”
After he informed his team that it had earned a playoff berth, Bedford coach Jeff Wood used one word to describe their play : lackadaisical.
“We knew we had to get after it,” Hullibarger said. “We were making simple mistakes and we knew how to fix them, and we got after it and scored a couple more touchdowns.”
The Mules committed a pair of second-half penalties, including a personal foul with 3:08 left in the third quarter that negated Ian Amos’ 36-yard touchdown catch.
Six plays later, Boss’ three-yard touchdown ended a drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters, and his 98-yard TD run forced both teams to play with a running clock for the final 8:32.
“We just can never be satisfied,” Boss said. “Even when we’ve got a big lead, we’re going to try to make the lead bigger.”