BEDFORD — When the Division I playoffs begin next weekend, Manchester Central will be in the eight-team field.
Central played its way in by posting a come-from-behind 20-16 victory at Bedford on Friday night.
Central stretched its winning streak to seven games and raised its record to 7-2. The Little Green will play at Concord (9-0) in next weekend’s Division I North championship game. Concord beat Central 35-6 in the opening game for each team.
Central, the No. 6 team in the Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll, trailed 10-7 in the third quarter, but received two field goals from Keegan Laberge and a 35-yard touchdown run from Jesiah Wade in the second half.
Laberge kicked a 23-yard field goal to make it a 10-10 game with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter, and gave Central a 13-10 lead with a 37-yard kick with 6:23 to play. Wade’s TD and Laberge’s PAT made it 20-10 with 1:28 left.
No. 2 Bedford pulled within four points on a 14-yard TD pass from quarterback Dan Colella to Mike Vailas with 51.9 seconds left, but Central recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Bedford turned the ball over four times. Central committed three turnovers.
Bedford completed its season with a 7-2 record and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Bedford led 10-7 at halftime. It was 7-7 until Keelan McCoole made a 26-yard field goal with 2:29 left in the second quarter.
After a Central punt, Bedford struck on its first play from scrimmage. Vailas scored on a 43-yard run, and McCoole made the point-after kick to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Central took advantage of a Bedford turnover to tie the game. One play after Abe Madra intercepted a Colella pass, Wade scored on an 18-yard run. Laberge added the PAT, which made it a 7-7 game with 7:10 remaining in the half.