Daylin Dower, left, and Davion Dower react after a loss to Bedford. DAVID RICHARD / CHRONICLE
BEDFORD — Lorain’s 20-point lead was gone.
Linebacker Nate Melendez went down early; fullback Jalin Cheers a little later. Quarterback Justin Sturgill injured his ankle on a touchdown run; multiple players, including sophomore star running back Daylin Dower, dealt with cramps.
Bedford Division I recruit Kenny Wilkins had scored six times.
And yet Lorain was just 1 yard from the lead with four minutes to go Friday night against the Bearcats — a yard the Titans never got.
Wilkins, who has offers from a number of power-conference colleges and who’d eventually rush for 263 yards on the night, stuffed Dower at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal, preserving his team’s 54-48 victory.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Dower, who scored four touchdowns and ran for
217 yards. “It was fun out there, going back and forth every drive. We have to learn from the mistakes we made tonight and move on from it.”
Lorain (7-2, 3-1 Lake Erie League) needs a win over Shaw next week and a Bedford loss to Warrensville Heights to share the LEL title with the Bearcats (8-1, 4-0). The Titans, according to available projections at the respected joeeitel.com late Friday night, still were in position to qualify for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs as the eighth seed.
How wild was this one? There were 23 possessions and 15 touchdowns. In nine combined possessions in the second half, six touchdowns were scored — including on five straight at one point. The teams combined for 1,071 yards of offense.
Lorain sprinted to a 28-8 lead after the first quarter, thanks to three of Dower’s touchdowns, but the Bearcats countered by scoring three straight touchdowns as their defense locked in. The Titans, though, slowed the pace on their final drive of the half. They went 65 yards in 3:15, including a key 7-yard run by Dakota Mincy on fourth down. He scored from 3 yards for a 34-26 halftime edge.
The fun was just beginning. Bedford scored on its first four second-half possessions — all on Wilkins touchdowns. His second of the half gave the Bearcats their first lead, at 40-34. After Dower scored his final touchdown, a 21-yarder midway through the third, Wilkins ran in from 15 yards to make it 48-41.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen,” Lorain coach Dave McFarland said of Wilkins. “Bedford was very physical. They’re a great football team.”
Sturgill’s quarterback sneak for a score evened the game at 48, and Wilkins’ 4-yard score with 11:24 to go gave the Bearcats the lead again. Lorain, though, drove 69 yards in 12 plays and seven minutes — with only two passes mixed in, as Sturgill was hobbled after the sneak.
The Titans had four cracks at it from the 4-yard line.
Cairo Smith ran for 2 yards, and then another. On third down, Dower was stopped on an off-tackle play. And on fourth down, Dower looked to be in on a sweep, but Wilkins came out of nowhere to make the stop as officials ruled Dower did not break the plane.
“Our coaches (in the press box) thought he got in, but what kind of play was that (by Wilkins)? Where did he come from? He’s a great player,” McFarland said.
“I believe I did (get in),” Dower said. “It was a tremendous effort from our team. I’m proud of everyone who went out there and fought. I’m blessed to have this group of guys around me.”
Bedford ran out the clock from there, including going for it on fourth-and-1 from its 10, with Wilkins, of course, gaining 8 yards for the first down.
“We just had to make plays. We were in position to make plays, but we just weren’t making them,” Bedford coach Sean Williams said. “We were in a championship game, playing a great team. They weren’t going to quit, so we had our hands full.”
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Bedford 54, Lorain 48
Lorain 28 6 14 0 — 48
Bedford 8 18 22 6 — 54
L — Daylin Dower, 15 run (Blake Bartlome kick)
L — Dakota Mincy, 34 interception return (Bartlome kick)
B — Kenny Wilkins, 25 run (Wilkins run)
L — Dower, 3 run (kick failed)
L — Dower, 23 run (Davion Dower pass from Justin Sturgill)
B — Wilkins, 1 run (conversion failed)
B — Davion Johnson, 7 pass from Emannuel Jenkins (conversion failed)
B — Decarleen Townsend, 60 pass from Jenkins (conversion failed)
L — Mincy, 3 run (conversion failed)
B — Wilkins, 4 run (Wilkins run)
B — Wilkins, 17 run (conversion failed)
L — Dower, 21 run (Bartlome kick)
B — Wilkins, 15 run (Johnson pass from Jenkins)
L — Sturgill, 1 run (Bartlome kick)
B — Wilkins, 4 run (conversion failed)
First downs 5 16
-- by rushing 3 13
-- by passing 2 3
-- by penalty 0 0
Yards rushing 54 93
Yards passing 55 306
Total offense 109 399
Passes att./comp. 8/2 13/7
Intercepted by 0 2
Fumbles/lost 2/1 1/1
Penalties/yards 4/30 6/50
First downs 27 26
— by rushing 19 16
— by passing 6 9
— by penalty 2 1
Yards rushing 375 321
Yards passing 128 247
Total offense 503 568
Passes att/comp 17/11 18/10
Intercepted by 1 1
Fumbles/lost 0/0 3/1
Penalties/yards 5/45 5/55
RUSHING — (L) Jalin Cheers 4-21, Tyshawn Lighty 2-12, Justin Sturgill 6-31, Daylin Dower 29-217, Zion Cross 1-19, Mikey Harrell 8-21, Dakota Mincy 5-27, Cairo Smith 4-27; (B) Kenny Wilkins 29-263, Deangelo Howard 4-30, Aaron Stone 3-10, Emmanuel Jenkins 2-18.
PASSING — (L) Sturgill 11-17-128-0-1. (B) Jenkins 10-18-247-2-1.
RECEIVING — (L) Lighty 5-55, Davion Dower 1-13, Cheers 1-8, Daylin Dower 1-31, Davion Dower 1-5, Jermele Nolen 1-7, Smith 1-9; (B) Davion Johnson 5-91, Howard 2-67, Decarleen Townsend 2-78, Jiovanny Holmes 1-11.