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Concord lays down the Law, wins battle of unbeatens, 34-27

  • Concord's Walters Ndi gets ready to tackle Bedford quarterback Daniel Colella before he gets a chance to throw what would have been the last pass of the game in the last seconds of the faceoff between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field. Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated. <br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Concord's Walters Ndi gets ready to tackle Bedford quarterback Daniel Colella before he gets a chance to throw what would have been the last pass of the game in the last seconds of the faceoff between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field. Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated.


    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Concord's Seimou Smith starts picking himself up after coming away with the ball in the endzone during the game against Bedford on Friday night, October 18, 2013. Smith scored the final touchdown with the reception that secured the Tide's victory of 34-27<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Concord's Seimou Smith starts picking himself up after coming away with the ball in the endzone during the game against Bedford on Friday night, October 18, 2013. Smith scored the final touchdown with the reception that secured the Tide's victory of 34-27

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Concord's Robert Law Jr. tears past Bedford defense, helmets flying off in the process, during the game between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field.  Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Concord's Robert Law Jr. tears past Bedford defense, helmets flying off in the process, during the game between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field. Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Concord's Robert Law Jr. tears past Bedford defense, helmets flying off in the process, during the game between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field.  Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Concord's Robert Law Jr. tears past Bedford defense, helmets flying off in the process, during the game between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field. Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Concord's Walters Ndi gets ready to tackle Bedford quarterback Daniel Colella before he gets a chance to throw what would have been the last pass of the game in the last seconds of the faceoff between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field. Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated. <br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Concord's Seimou Smith starts picking himself up after coming away with the ball in the endzone during the game against Bedford on Friday night, October 18, 2013. Smith scored the final touchdown with the reception that secured the Tide's victory of 34-27<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Concord's Robert Law Jr. tears past Bedford defense, helmets flying off in the process, during the game between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field.  Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Concord's Robert Law Jr. tears past Bedford defense, helmets flying off in the process, during the game between the schools on Friday night, October 18, 2013 at Memorial Field.  Concord won 34-27 maintaining their title as undefeated. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

With Concord’s raucous student body chanting “un-de-feat-ed!” and Bedford staring down a 29-yard gap to the end zone for a potential tying touchdown with six seconds to play, the Tide sent an all-out blitz as the ball was snapped. And when Walters Ndi swallowed up Bedford quarterback Dan Colella for a sack on the final play last night, he proved his classmates right.

In a game that certainly lived up to its hype, Concord withstood a desperate Bulldog drive in the final 55.8 seconds to remain undefeated at 7-0 and hand Bedford (6-1) its first loss, 34-27, in front of a packed house at Memorial Field. Maybe most importantly, the victory clinched the Tide’s first playoff berth since 2004 and, barring a monumental upset in the season’s final two weeks when Concord plays teams with a combined record of 2-11, the team will host the Division I North championship.

“The adrenaline gets pumping, it’s crazy,” linebacker Logan Lamoureux said of the final defensive stand. “You want to make that stop, you want to get the win for your team.”

Concord took control in the second quarter after the teams had traded touchdowns in the opening frame. The Tide reached the end zone twice more before halftime and a swarming defensive effort, led by Wyatt LaBombard, Kris Skinner and Dylan Naylor up front, and Jacob Szulc, Marc Gaudet, Shawn Jobin and Lamoureux off the line, limited Bedford to just three first downs in the first half for a 20-7 lead.

But each time the Tide seemed on the verge of putting the game away, the Bulldogs bit back, with the teams trading touchdowns throughout the second half before the Tide defense’s final stand.

“I told the guys at halftime, this is why we play the game,” Bedford Coach Kurt Hines said. “61-0 games, those are not what you want as a coach or a player. Obviously the outcome tonight was not what we wanted, but from a football standpoint, this is what you want. You want something that comes down to the final minutes. That’s certainly what it was, and Concord’s a great football program.”

In a game between two of the top defenses in the state – Bedford had allowed just 26 points combined all season, while Concord limited opponents to just 13.5 points per game – Concord’s offense proved just that much better.

Quarterback Rob Law dissected the Bulldogs defense with a surgeon’s precision, completing 21 straight passes after a miss on his initial try of the game. He went 21-for-22 for 198 yards and three TD passes, setting a new school record for completions in a game.

“That doesn’t surprise me, he’s very efficient,” Concord Coach Eric Brown said of his junior quarterback. “Robbie’s just heady. He’s able to find his receivers.”

“I never think about stats, especially in a game like this,” Law said. “All I’m worried about is getting first downs.”

Seimou Smith had nine of those receptions for 87 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown catch, wrestling the ball away from Bedford’s Nathaniel Jaeger in the end zone after the two leaped in sync for the 29-yard pass that turned out to be the game-winning score.

“At first the kid actually did pick it, but I fought for the ball, I fought for my possession,” Smith said. “At first I was surprised, but I’ve been doing this since my sophomore year, so I knew I could come up top.”

Gaudet reeled in six passes, most on crucial downs, for 67 yards and a touchdown as well as a pair of 2-point conversions. Two of his receptions came on third down, two others on fourth down. Gaudet also ran for 37 yards and two TDs.

“Most of those (pass) plays I didn’t even have a route,” Gaudet said. “I’d be sitting waiting, making sure he had an extra option and he just found me. I did what I could and Rob did a great job. That’s what he does. That’s why he’s our quarterback.”

Bedford opened the scoring on an 84-yard burst off right tackle by Aaron Palys, but the Tide answered with Gaudet’s 13-yard TD run around right end, leaving Bedford with a 7-6 lead after a quarter.

A 3-yard scoring run by Gaudet and his conversion pass from Law gave Concord a lead it would not relinquish, then, after Brandon Barrett recovered a Bedford fumble on the 4-yard line, Bakir Bascelic snared an 8-yard pass in the back right corner of the end zone for a 20-7 lead at halftime.

A 55-yard punt return by Michael Vailas pulled the Bulldogs within 20-14 to start the second half, but Szulc returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to set Concord on its way to a 54-yard drive, culminated with Gaudet’s third TD of the game on a 4-yard pass from Law. A Tide fumble at its own 30 set up a 30-yard scoring strike from Colella (15-for-23, 155 yards) to Nicholas Vailas to make it a one-score margin heading into the final quarter.

Four completions to Smith, as well as a roughing-the-passer penalty, sent the Tide to pay dirt on its next drive, with Smith’s circus catch putting Concord up, 34-20. But Bedford’s defense stopped the Tide deep in its own territory then marched 41 yards, capped by Colella’s 1-yard dive, to make it 34-27 and set up the edge-of-your-seat finish.

“It gives us some pride. We really did this one not just for us but mostly for our city,” Gaudet said. “They really needed this one and we came through.”

“All year that’s what we’ve been saying, for the city,” Smith said, “because it’s been a while since Concord’s had something like this.”

(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or ssmith@cmonitor.com.)

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