Big-game Bedell leads Long Island over NYC
New York City coach Shawn O’Connor has heard all about Stacey Bedell from Lincoln’s Robert Kitching, who will team with the co-Hansen Award winner at the University of Massachusetts in the fall.
On Tuesday night, O’Connor saw first hand what makes Bedell so special. The William Floyd standout rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns, helping guide Long Island to a 31-7 victory over New York City in the 17th annual Empire Challenge in front of a record crowd of 12,418 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“Kitching was telling me a lot about him, he’s been talking the kid up for a while…I never saw him on film, but I saw a lot of him today,” O’Connor said.
Bedell put Long Island in front 12-0 on a pair of 1-yard runs in the first half, but short touchdowns aren’t what made him a household name on Long Island.
“Everybody kept telling me they were waiting for me to break a long run,” Bedell said.
Bedell delivered with 6:36 left in the third quarter, a 92-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-3 that blew the game open for Long Island, which won for the second straight year and increased its lead over NYC to 9-6. The first two Empire Challenge games pitted Nassau vs. Suffolk.
“I don’t even remember the play,” Bedell said. “I just remember cutting through the middle, I followed [Longwood’s] Omari Palmer, who blocked the safety, got into open space and I was gone.”
O’Connor thought Bedell was wrapped up for a loss by Holy Cross corner Shyheim Wingate on the play. A stop and New York City likely would have had good field position and a chance to get momentum back.
Instead, Bedell brought the ball to the house, like he did 24 times on the ground for Floyd en route to the Long Island Division I title.
“We knew all week if we could get him in space, he’d have a great opportunity to take it to the house because he’s electric, he’s got breakout speed,” Long Island coach Rob Hoss said. “He kind of lulls you to sleep a bit and if he finds a seam, it’s like you saw tonight, 92 yards.”
Bedell’s touchdown came on the heels of a huge goal line stand by Long Island, which held New York City off the scoreboard until Lincoln’s Jessel Jones hit Tottenville’s Alvin Cornelius for an 18-yard score with 3:04 left in the fourth.
Newfield’s Tom Diubaldo and Trayvon Toney from Huntington stuffed Lehman’s David White at the 1-yard line. Three plays later, Bedell scored the pivotal touchdown.
“No question, that was the period at the end of the sentence,” Hoss said.
If Bedell weren’t named MVP, Steven Ferreira would have garnered the honor. The Sayville quarterback was 8-of-11 for 132 yards and two touchdowns, including a picturesque 21-yard pass to a diving Mike Richardson from West Babylon to give Long Island a 24-0 lead with 11 seconds left in the first half.
It was a terrific ending on the gridiron for Ferreira, who will play lacrosse at Stony Brook.
“It’s sad, but I’m glad to go out with a bang like this,” said Ferreira, who also connected with Alex Rawa on a 5-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. “I’m going to miss it, but I’m also ready for college.”
So, too, is Bedell, who will have plenty to say to Kitching in Amherst next month.
“I told him I’ll have the bragging rights for the next four years up at UMass,” Bedell said.
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler