Bethany’s fall from the top spot in the KCAC standings was short-lived, as the Swedes rebounded from their first loss of the year with a 30-28 win over #15 Sterling.
With the Swedes win, the KCAC now features three teams atop the league with a 4-1 mark. Bethany, Sterling, and Kansas Wesleyan are log jammed in a three-way tie. Bethany owns the tiebreaker over Sterling, while Sterling owns the tiebreaker over KWU. Tabor isn’t far behind, with a 3-1 league mark and a matchup with Bethel on Sunday.
Bethany trailed first for the third straight game after a 51 yard touchdown run by Sterling running back Aaron Chisolm made it 7-0 Warriors with 8:11 to go in the 1st. Bethany countered with a 7 play, 68 yard drive capped off by a 15 yard touchdown from Isaiah Salazar to Rodney Molette. It was 7-6 Sterling after Bethany missed the PAT.
In the second quarter, Bethany’s Jafar Thomas found the end zone from 5 yards away for his 4th rushing touchdown of the season. It was 13-7 Bethany with 13:12 to go before the half. After Bethany muffed a Sterling punt, quarterback Eric Butler scrambled for a 25 yard touchdown to tie the game at 13 with 7:16 to go in the 2nd.
Bethany’s James Augusta booted through a 24 yard field goal with 16.5 seconds remaining in the 2nd session to give Bethany a 16-13 halftime lead.
The Swedes went 3-and-out to start the 3rd quarter, and Sterling started their first drive of the final half on their own 43 yard line. Five plays later, Butler left the game with an ankle injury and freshman Taylor Richter was handed the keys to the offense. He led Sterling to a 31 yard field goal, tying the game for the second time at 16 with 7:23 to play in the 3rd.
Bethany’s next drive stalled at midfield and the Swedes were forced to punt. Trying to pin the Warriors deep, Augusta wedged a kick inside the five yard line that was muffed by return man Raphael Williams. The ball went bouncing into the end zone, with the Swedes recovering nine yards deep for a score. Bethany led 23-16 with 4:23 left in the 3rd.
Bethany punted on three of their first four drives of the second half, with their third punt being the most costly. Williams made up for his earlier blunder, and weaved his way 69 yards for a punt return touchdown. After Sterling missed the extra point, Bethany was clinging to a 23-22 lead with 10:01 to go in the game.
After another Bethany punt, Sterling’s Butler had a poor exchange with Chisolm inside their own 10 yard line, which led to a Swedes fumble recovery. Bethany’s Molette made a one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone on the next play, and Bethany took a 30-22 lead with 7:14 to play.
Sterling went 3-and-out on their next series, giving Bethany the ball with just over five minutes remaining. Salazar went to the air on the first play of the drive, and was intercepted by a linebacker after a deflection. Sterling would score four plays later on a 7 yard run by Daniel Doriscar making it 30-28 Swedes with 3:50 left. The Warriors lined up for a 2-point conversation, but were whistled for a false start. From the 8 yard line, Butler’s pass was incomplete with pressure from the Bethany defensive line.
Bethany milked some time off the clock, but punted from their own 32 yard line. With just over a minute to go, Sterling had the ball on the Warriors 43 looking to take the lead. However, Bethany’s Dahari Gray and Jared Bader combined on a 4th down sack, ending the Warriors chances with :30 left.
Bethany hits the road next Saturday to take on the Southwestern Moundbuilders. That game airs on 95.5 The Rock with pregame at 1pm.
By James Westling