FOOTBALL: Saline Completes SEC Revenge Tour in 48-0 Win at Bedford


Saline sophomore Isaiah Harris blindsides the Bedford QB and forces a fumble.

TEMPERANCE - Saline couldn’t have asked for a better SEC revenge tour.

Last year, Bedford snapped Saline’s 52-game winning streak in the SEC Red with a 7-0 victory at Hornet Stadium. Friday night, Saline kicked the Mules to the curb in a 48-0 drubbing at Bedford. It was the most dominant victory in the history of the 27-game Saline-Bedford series.

Saline improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC Red. Earlier this year, Saline defeated Dexter, who last year ended the Hornets’ reign atop the conference.

Saline hosts Monroe (3-1 overall, 2-1 in the SEC Red) next week.

CJ Carr completed 16 of 25 passes for 279 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions. The numbers don’t do Carr’s game justice, as the Notre Dame commit had several long passes, including two would-be touchdowns, nullified by drops. Carr also ran for two touchdowns.

“At the beginning of the season there were two games circled on our calendar and this was one of them. We finished it the way it should be. It was a great team win,” Carr said. “We were waiting 365 days for this moment. We came out here and just did out job.

Coach Joe Palka said the team’s performance reflected a good week of practice.

“(The game) matched our week of practice which I was really happy about. We had a really good week of practice preparing for their triple option. You could just see us getting better during the week,” Palka said. “There was a lot of resolve. Based on what happened last year, they were going to play well today.”

The defensive effort was nothing short of spectacular. Michael Reder, Jericoh Powe and Coleman Ross were in on a ton of tackles. Isaiah Harris terrorized the Bedford QB, forcing two fumbles, one of which led to a Jarell Marshall fumble return touchdown. Ross and Jack Day had interceptions for the defense, which posted its second straight shutout.

Junior Michael Reder couldn’t have been happier with the shutout.

“It feels great (to get the shutout). It’s just another highlight to add to watch on Saturday morning when we watch film,” Reder said. “It’s just a great environment for the guys”

Tyler Fedotozskin set the tone by taking down a Bedford back for a one-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage. Bedford moved two yards forward on its first possession before punting the ball away to the Saline 38,

After two long passes went incomplete along the Saline sideline, Carr threw a short pass over the middle to Caid Fox (4 catches for 84 yards), who sprinted up the middle and bounced to the outside for 50 yards before he was pushed out of bounds. CJ Carr ran the ball twice to set up a first-and-goal. 


James Rush punched it in for the 6-0 lead. Jacob Piniatoglou’s extra point kick was blocked.

The drive took 2:09.

Bedford’s next drive started at its 15. Ryan Kavanaugh, Reder and Ross had tackles. Bedford punted from its 23 and Saline took over at the 50 with 5:53 to play. Carr got one first down with a pass to Dylan Messman (5 catches for 55 yards). Carr threw two five-yard passes to Mesman and Jayden Leonard for another first down. James Rush picked up 15 yards in the ground to move the ball to the 6. CJ Carr rushed it down to the one. 


Zain Issa scored a one-yard TD on the ground on the next play. Saline led 13-0 after Piniatoglou’s kick with just 8:05 taken from the clock.

Bedford started the next drive at its 37. But on 2nd-and-9, Harris crashed the Bedford quarterback and forced a fumble that Bedford recovered at its 23. On 3rd-and-23, the Bedford QB threw a pass that seemed to ping pong between Hornets before Ross clutched it before it could hit the turf. 

Saline took over at its 34. After an incomplete pass, Carr connected with Fox for an 11-yard pass through the air. 

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Then Carr threw a short pass to Rush, who hit the Saline sideline and went the rest of the way in for a 23-yard TD. Piniatoglou’s kick made it 20-0 and the first quarter wasn’t over.

It was a return to the quick-strike offense that Palka’s teams became known for years ago.

“The plan is that we wanted to play fast. We worked on it all week with a lot of pace periods and it also keeps them out of their blitzes a little bit, too,” Palka said. “It was the first time we’ve done that in a long time.”

The next Bedford drive started at the 20. After a false start penalty pushed the Mules back five yards, Josh Perkins stuffed a running play. Ross and Ladainian Woods broke up passing plays and the Mules punted from their 16 to end the quarter.

Saline took over at its 46. After a three-yard run by Woods, Carr passed to Lincoln Keys for a 33-yard gain. 

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A couple of plays later, Carr rolled out and swept into the endzone for a five-yard TD and a 27-0 lead after Piniatoglou’s kick. The drive took just 1:07.

Saline’s defense quickly came up with the next score. Bedford started at its’ 22. After an incomplete pass, Ross and Nick Rishel stopped a Bedford back for a short gain on second down. 

On third down, Isaiah Harris attacked the Bedford QB from behind, knocking the ball loose as he dragged him down. Marshall picked up the football and ran it into the endzone. Saline led 34-0 after the kick by Piniataglou.

It was yet another big play the sophomore, Isaiah Harris.

“What a defensive spark. He’s just a guy that makes things happen,” Palka said.

Palka sees a lot of offensive ability in Harris, too, and wanted to employ him as a running back in the second half but didn’t want to risk injury.

Bedford’s next possession began at its 20. After a five-yard pick-up on first down, Harris dropped a back for a one-yard loss on second. Reder came up with the stop on third and Bedford punted from its 26.

Saline took over at the 50 with 7:48 to play in the quarter. Carr passed to Mesman for six yards and Marshall for five yards. Carr then passed to Mesman for 17 yards. The drive seemed like it might stall at the 22 after three straight incomplete passes. Saline called timeout. 

During the timeout, Carr and Rush were spotted doing push-ups together. 

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When play resumed, Carr threw a pass to Fox as he cut across the middle. The Hornets had a first down at the four. Rush ran the ball twice to move it to the one. 

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Carr pushed his way in behind the O-Line for his second rushing touchdown of the game. Piniatoglou’s kick made it 41-0. Saline took the lead into halftime.

Saline slowed the tempo in the second half, but the Hornets did manage to score on its first possession of the third quarter. The drive started at the Saline 20. Carr passed to Leonard for six yards and Marshall for 22 yards. Rush picked up eight yards on the ground to move the ball over the 50. Carr passed to Fox for five yards and a first down at the 45. After two incomplete passes, Carr passed to Mesman for 13 yards and another first at the Bedford 27. 

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Two plays later, Carr spotted Marshall wide open in the middle of the field and they connected for a 29-yard touchdown. Ethan Cotsonika’s extra point attempt was good and Saline led 48-0 after the 5:48 scoring drive.

In the fourth quarter, Bedford threw everything it had into one last try for the endzone. The game ended with Jack Day picking off a pass deep in Hornet territory.

With the team sitting at 4-0 and 3-0 in the SEC Red, Palka is happy with where the team is today. But he wants it to be better next week against Monroe, and then better still, the following week against Huron.

“If we want to make a push at the end of the season, we have to continue to improve weekly, regardless of the opponent,” Palka said.

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