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Saline pulverizes rival Temperance Bedford 56-14, goes 4-0

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Saline — Temperance Bedford was the last Southeastern Conference Red Division team to defeat Saline and that was more than seven years ago, a 33-17 win in late September 2013.

Saline earned a 49-0 shutout of Monroe the following week, starting a 36-game SEC Red winning streak heading into Friday’s showdown for first place in the division with … Bedford.

Saline celebrates a fumble recovery during the first half.

And, Saline — No. 8 in The Detroit News Super 20 ranking — made sure it would push that streak to 37 with a dominating 56-14 victory in front of a capacity crowd — since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed 1,000 fans to attend games this week — to take a giant step closer to earning its seventh straight SEC Red title.

While Saline extended its winning streak with Bedford to seven games, it has been a rivalry with games during three of the previous four years decided by five or fewer points, including 31-26 in 2018 and 24-21 last year.

Saline had to know coming in it would have to play at a high level since Bedford’s 3-0 start was impressive, outscoring opponents 101-16.

Saline (4-0, 4-0) did just that, forcing a three-and-out and then scoring on its first play when junior running back/slot receiver Josh Rush broke loose for a 91-yard run down the left sideline.

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Saline would score on all six of its first-half possessions, piling up 407 yards on just 18 plays while taking a commanding 42-7 halftime lead and putting the running clock into play during the second half.

Saline’s 56 points were the most scored against a Bedford team since an Ohio school earned a 69-0 win back in 1991.

How good was junior quarterback Larry Robinson? Well, Robinson hit on all eight of his pass in the first half for 207 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for a score.

“We came out fast, started how we really wanted to, two straight drives in less than five plays so great start for our offense and we just looked like we were doing what we do,” said Robinson, who has an offer from Central Michigan.

First, Robinson found Nick Walper in the left flat and Walper turned it into a 71-yard TD for a 14-0 lead.

Then, Robinson gave a pump fake before finding Rush behind the secondary for a 46-yard scoring play and a 21-0 cushion with 1:52 left in the opening quarter.

On Saline’s fourth series, Robinson found Luke Darmos over the middle for a 48-yard TD strike and a 28-0 advantage with 9:37 left in the half.

After Darmos’ TD reception, Saline held a 293-41 edge in total yards while running just nine plays.

Bedford got on the board on a 13-yard TD run by Logan Hullibarger midway through the second when quarterback Brady Henderson finally got his triple-option offense going, breaking loose for runs of 16 and 12 yards during the drive.

Saline would quickly answer when Rush again broke loose, this time for a 49-yard TD run on a jet sweep for a 35-7 lead.

Then, Saline recovered a fumble at Bedford’s 40 with 2:15 left, leading to Robinson’s 1-yard TD run with 26.7 seconds left in the half.

While Robinson was impressive, so was Rush who had 203 yards of total offense and three TDs, including 150 yards on two carries.

Manny Lupascu was strong from his defensive end position for Saline, getting a sack and three tackles for lost yardage in that pivotal first half.

Robinson proved to be human when his first pass of the second half, a screen was intercepted for a 30-yard TD to cut the deficit to 42-14.

Robinson regrouped and completed three straight passes, leading to a 16-yard scoring run by Gavin Lytle for a 49-14 lead.

Robinson scored on a 16-yard run early in the fourth for a 56-14 lead.

Robinson finished 13 of 14 passing for 244 yards and three TDs while also rushing for 58 yards on five carries and two scores. Rush had just one more touch during the second half, an eight-yard reception.

“Our receivers and O-line did what they had to do, they got open and just made plays with the ball in their hands,” said Robinson of completing passes to seven different receivers.

And, on Rush, Robinson said: “Seeing what he did today was phenomenal. Each and every game he surprises me.”