LYNNFIELD — Olan Abner was prone near Bedford’s goal line as teammates began to gather around him.
The legs that carried Bedford’s senior running back to 117 yards on 31 carries had finally given in, cramping after nearly two hours of breaking tackles and pushing piles.
But not before those legs lifted Bedford to the Division 4 North title game.
Abner punched in a 1-yard score with nine seconds remaining, then swatted a last-second Hail Mary pass from a horde of receivers as Bedford handed Lynnfield its first loss of the season with a 14-7 victory Saturday afternoon.
“I got cramps in both my calves,” said Abner, “but they’re the best cramps I’ve ever had.”
The Buccaneers (7-1) advanced to face Pentucket in the Division 4 North final Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in West Newbury. Lynnfield (8-1), which fell into the elimination bracket, will take on Watertown next weekend.
With just over eight minutes remaining in a 7-7 contest, Lynnfield, facing a fourth and 10 from the Buccaneers’ 45, elected to punt. Bedford’s Mike Hayes gathered it the punt near Bedford’s 20-yard line and raced up the left sideline to the Buccaneer 48.
That’s when Abner notched his most meaningful runs of the afternoon, collecting 29 yards on eight carries, including a 1-yard touchdown to give Bedford its first lead with only nine ticks left. on the clock
The ensuing Bedford kickoff sailed out of bounds at the Lynnfield 40, and with a 5-yard penalty, Lynnfield needed to march 55 yards in nine seconds.
Quarterback Dan Sullivan sent a quick pass to receiver Jonathan Knee, who then lateraled to a streaking Dave Adams. The junior offensive lineman picked up 23 yards before falling out of bounds with one second left.
Before Lynnfield’s final snap, Bedford was called for a 5-yard sideline infraction, pushing the ball to the Buccaneer 27.
Sullivan then uncorked a heave for the front left pylon. The junior had three receivers in the area, but the 5-foot-8-inch Abner batted the pass to the ground.
“That’s why they were undefeated,” said Bedford coach Jack Belcher. “They kept playing right until the clock said zero.’’
In a battle of Bedford’s stout defense (5.3 points per game allowed) vs. Lynnfield’s high-powered offense (35.3 points per game), the Buccaneers defense blinked first.
As Hayes attempted to corral a second-quarter punt near his 25-yard line, the ball slipped out of his grasp and into the hands of Knee. , who carried it his newfound prize into the end zone. But the play was ruled a muffed punt and it was marked at the spot of the fumble
Four plays later, the Pioneers put the ball in the hands of their career rushing touchdown leader, senior Kyle McGah, who barreled up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown. run as Lynnfield took a 7-0 lead into the break
Bedford tied the score as quarterback Joe Zampell faked the handoff to Abner and handed it to Hayes, who sprinted 26 yards to the end zone.