WEST NEWBURY — Each time Bedford threw what seemed to be a knockout punch, Pentucket fought back.
Bedford twice drove inside the Pentucket 15-yard-line in the fourth quarter, and twice the Sachems turned the Buccaneers away without points to force the game into overtime.
Then, in the extra frame, Pentucket stifled the Bucs on three straight downs to force a fourth-and-10.
Bedford, however, found that last big play, completing a screen play for a touchdown, and the Sachems could not respond, falling to the Buccaneers 22-14 in the Division 4 North finals yesterday.
“This is very tough,” said Pentucket coach Steve Hayden. “One of the toughest losses I have experienced. That is a very good football team, but we played very well. We battled, but they found a way to beat us.”
Bedford now advances to the Division 4 state semifinals, while the Sachems refocus on their traditional Thanksgiving Day meeting with Triton.
“That is the best team that we have played all year,” said Buccaneers coach Jack Belcher. “They smacked us. We usually wear teams out and take over in the second half, and we couldn’t do that today. You can see why coach Hayden and this program have had so much success.”
It was the Sachems that started the game with a bang. After the opening drive of the game stalled at the Bedford 2-yard line, Pentucket grabbed the lead later in the quarter when Jeff Porter broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run.
Bedford struck back in the second to tie the game, but that did not last long.
Porter (14 carries, 139 yards) fielded the following kickoff and ran it back 82 yards for his second touchdown of the game and a 14-7 lead.
It appeared that advantage would hold up into halftime, but the Sachems were flagged for a late, questionable pass interference call that Bedford turned into a touchdown with 1:12 to go before the break.