Football remains undefeated after 31-23 Fall Fest victory over Southwestern
The Threshers improve to 6-0 in front of a record-setting crowd.
On Saturday night, the evening of Fall Fest, the Bethel (6-0) football team took the field against Southwestern (5-1) in a battle of two unbeaten top-15 teams in hopes of staying perfect on the season.
The Threshers did just that in a 31-23 win in front of the largest crowd for a single sporting event on Bethel’s campus in school history.
“We had a pretty good week of preparation so the nerves were to a minimum,” head coach A.B. Stokes said. “We felt as if we were going to give our best effort and accept the results.”
The first quarter started out slow, with both teams’ defenses battling back and forth. Five and a half minutes into the game, senior Trey Palmer blocked a Southwestern field goal attempt, giving Bethel some momentum.
Tucker Smith would then gain 65 yards for Threshers, giving quarterback DJ Ciers the ball in the red zone where he would find freshman Isaac Harkness for the touchdown, putting Bethel up 7-0.
“DJ has played at a high level since he came to Bethel, and even though his coaches and the offensive scheme changed this year, he continues to be dedicated to being a high-level player,” Stokes said. “He's too busy focusing on improvement and being the best QB he can be to worry about nerves or negative plays.”
Before going into the second quarter, the Moundbuilders would tie the game up, 7-7.
At the start of the second quarter, Palmer would have yet another big play, gaining 49 yards on the punt return, but the Threshers would have an unsuccessful drive after that. Southwestern would find their way to a field goal, making the score 10-7 in favor of the Moundbuilders.
With six minutes left in the first half, Ciers would throw a 57-yard pass to senior Brayden Francis for a touchdown, bringing the score to 14-10. The Moundbuilders would find themselves in field goal territory before the half and close their deficit to just one, 14-13.
Halftime brought a performance by the cheer and dance squads, as well as including the newly unveiled mascot, “Threshy,” as well as lots of spirit from the Stone Zone.
“The fans and students section definitely enhanced the gameday experience,” Stokes said. “We feel as if we have the best fans and student section in the conference, arguably the country (at our level). We love the support and look forward to home games because of what they bring to the game day.”
Within the first drive of the second half, senior Chantz Scurry would find himself in the end zone, bringing the score to 21-13. The drive included two long receptions from Smith. Not even seven minutes later, Scurry would again be making the touchdown for Bethel, making the score 28-13. Southwestern would find a touchdown of their own and bring the score to 28-20.
The Threshers then entered the fourth quarter after a field goal kick from freshman Carson Sauseda. Throughout the fourth quarter, the Bethel defense contained the Moundbuilders until they scored a field goal with 1:55 left in the game, putting them down by only eight points.
Southwestern would then recover their onside kick on the kickoff, putting the Threshers back on defense. Palmer came in clutch yet again this game, getting the key interception to seal the Moundbuilders’ fate, ending the game with the final score of 31-23.
“I know these guys love to play the game so I don't have to say much to fire them up for a game,” Stokes stated. “We love to play the game and honor God, each other, our families, and Bethel College to the best of our ability. We try our best to play hard, play fast and play together and let the rest take care of itself.”
Bethel stays undefeated at 6-0 going into this week’s game at Avila in Kansas City, Mo. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.