NORTH NEWTON, Kan. - The Bethel football team hosted Bethany College last night for a KCAC matchup. In a game where nobody truly knew what to expect, Reggie Young (JR/Pasadena, Calif.) came through to create new expectations. Young led the Threshers with three interceptions, as the defense managed five and seven total turnovers. Zach Esau (FR/Hesston, Kan.) got the nod for his first collegiate start and did a fine job leading the attack, but missed opportunities and sloppy penalties ultimately cost the Threshers a victory. Bethel fell 37-33.
With his first collegiate start, Esau gave all nervous fans a sense of ease on the first play of the game. Standing strong in the pocket, Esau threw a beautiful ball up over the middle of the field to Gary Jolivet (JR/Arlington, Texas), but the potential opening play touchdown was unfortunately dropped. Bethel would be forced into fourth down, and then had a bad snap which forced Brett Mathis (SR/Long Beach, Calif.) to just kick the ball through the back of the end zone. This gave Bethany two points on the board, and the ball back off a kickoff.
On Bethany's opening offensive drive, Charles Johnson (JR/Phoenix, Ariz.) read Bethany QB Salazar like a book and picked him off on Bethel's 32 yard line, which would be the Threshers' first of five interceptions in the night.
With Bethel taking over at Bethany's 37 yard line, it took three plays for the offense to find paydirt. Esau connected with transfer tight end Adrian Palmore (JR/St. Petersburg, Fla.) in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. The ensuing extra point was blocked, and Bethel held the 6-2 lead.
The next Bethany drive resulted in Reggie Young's first of three interceptions on the day. He was able to return it almost 30 yards and setup the offense on the Bethany five yard line. Three plays later, Isaiah Smith (SR/Kansas City, Kan.) was able to punch it in, and gave Bethel a 13-2 advantage.
Bethany's offense converted on a touchdown during their next possession, and then followed it up by returning a punt return for a touchdown just minutes later. Bethany carried a 16-13 lead into the start of the second quarter.
Early in the second quarter Tyshawn Simon was able to break off a 13-yard run for the Thresher touchdown, as Bethel took back the lead, 20-16. This lead was given back after Esau threw a pick-six with just under 10 minutes left in the half, giving Bethany the 23-20 advantage. They would tack on another score before halftime, and Bethel went to the locker rooms down 30-20.
Bethel created two special-teams fumbles to begin the third quarter. After a bad snap on Bethany's punt, Bethel's own drive resulted in a punt. The Swedes return man dropped the punt, which gave Da'Ron Gillis (SR/Dallas, Texas) the chance to come up with the recovery at Bethany's 14 yard line. Bethel's offense stalled, and unfortunately the field goal by Mathis went wide-left, and the 30-20 point defecit was still on the scoreboard.
The offense did manage to close the gap three minutes before the end of the quarter. Jolivet came off the right side and took the wide receiver sweep 22 yards for the touchdown, as the score cut Bethany's lead to 30-27.
The Swedes effectively ate most of the clock with their ground game in the fourth quarter, and managed to tack on another touchdown to create a 37-27 defecit for Bethel with five minutes left. The next drive resulted in Esau's second interception on the day, but Bethel's defense would come through with another turnover. 2016 First-Team All-Conference line backer Jariah Booker (SR/Oroville, Calif.) laid down a big hit and forced a fumble, which was scooped up by Reggie Young and returned 60 yards to Bethany's 15 yard line.
On the next play, Esau found Ben Marshall (SR/Lakewood, Calif.) in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. After the extra point was missed, Bethel faced a 37-33 defecit with three minutes to go. The defense forced Bethany to punt on the next drive, giving Bethel one last chance with a minute of action to win. Esau found Palmore to get the ball 28 yards from the end zone, but there wasn't enough magic in the tank to pull it out, as Bethel fell 37-33.
Zach Esau completed 15 of 40 passes for 193 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Tyshawn Simon led the rushing offense with 13 attempts for 34 yards and a touchdown. Adrian Palmore turned in a solid day with seven receptions, 85 yards and a touchdown, while Montero DuBose (SR/Indianapolis, Ind.) contributed five catches for 70 yards.
On the defensive side, Reggie Young tallied 12 total tackles, three interceptions for 56 yards, as well as a fumble recovery for 60 yards. Jariah Booker also had 12 tackles to go along with one sack, one forced fumble, and one interception. Michael Bell (SR/Wichita, Kan.) and Curtis Bent (JR/Wichita, Kan.) both contribued six tackles each, while Tawon Green (JR/San Bernadino, Calif.) had five tackles with a forced fumble and pass breakup.
Bethel (now 0-3), take on McPherson College in McPherson on September 30th, with a 7:00 PM start time.