NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – The Threshers welcomed the 13th ranked team in country to Joe W. Goering Field on Saturday afternoon, the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes. Instead of perhaps the expected blowout some thought would happen, Bethel came ready to play. In a game where Bethel won the overall time of possession by over 11 minutes and had a lead going into the 4th quarter, the game was lost due to costly penalties and mistakes not being made during the first three quarters. The Coyotes scored two touchdowns in the last eight minutes and just barely left North Newton with the victory, 21-17.
The Threshers started out looking like a team with something to prove. While the offense took a little bit of time to warm up, the defense came out poised and ready. They were not deterred by the Coyote's hurry-up offense, and came up with a huge 4th down stop at their own 22 yard line, preventing early points on the board.
On the next defensive drive, the Coyotes again took the ball down into Thresher territory, and again the Threshers came up huge on 4th down, when Kansas Wesleyan decided to try to convert on 4th and 18, instead of opting for the field goal try.
While the defense was giving it all they could, the offense just could not find any leverage against the stout Coyote defense early on. The first drive of the game ended with an errant interception play by quarterback Chase Sparks, but this would be his only throwing mistake of the game.
Bethel was finally able to get on the board in the second quarter on a drive where Robert Smith had an 18 yard run, and Sparks completed a pass to Montero DuBose for 14 yards, setting up the Sparks touchdown throw to Gary Jolivet with under a minute to go. This made the score 7-3 in favor of Bethel.
A poor drive by Kansas Wesleyan where they decided it would be smart to throw instead of running the clock out and ending the half resulted in Bethel getting the ball back. This set up the 22 yard field goal by Brett Mathis, resulting in a 10-3 lead for Bethel at half.
The opening drive for Bethel in the 3rd quarter was all Robert Smith, as he took it down the field and punched in a six yard touchdown run, giving Bethel the 17-7 lead.
The turning point of the game came in the 4th quarter, when Rickey Rodriguez picked off the Coyote's quarterback and returned it untouched into the endzone. Unfortunately, the points were erased off the board due to an unnecessary roughness penalty after the interception. This was all Kansas Wesleyan needed to make sure they scored, and scored again to snatch the upset away from Bethel.
Smith ended the game with 97 rushing yards on 23 carries. The receiving leader for the Threshers was Jolivet, who had 75 yards and a touchdown. Dubose had six receptions for 60 yards, and Jordan Alvarez had his first reception of the season, good for seven yards.
On the defensive side of things, Joseph Winfield led the Threshers with eight total tackles. Jariah Booker recorded five tackles and had a forced fumble on the Coyotes running back. Carlos Dickerson had the fumble recovery, as well as recording two sacks in the game. The Thresher pass defense continues to impress, with both Rodriguez and Miles Steed recording an interception in the game.
The Threshers move to 2-6 on the season (2-5 in conference), and play this coming Saturday at Friends University, with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 PM.