For the fourth time this season, the Bethel University defense held an opponent under 14 points, this time dominating the Concordia Cobbers in a 41-13 thrashing on Saturday. The Royals defense allowed just 30 yards passing and 136 yards of total offense to Concordia, allowing just eight first downs in the victory. The defense added three sacks and two fumble recoveries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Bethel University would take charge of this game. With 4:11 left in the first frame, the team began a drive at their own 22 yard line after Concordia turned the ball over on downs. From there, it took 11 plays and 5:43 off the clock before the Royals would find the end zone. That came on a fourth and 9 play, when quarterback Jaran Roste found receiver Drew Larsen for a 14 yard touchdown to give Bethel a seven point lead.
Two possessions later for Concordia, the Bethel defense provided a little offense of their own. On a first and 10 play at the Cobbers 18, Tavian Swanson drilled Rylie Sheridan, who fumbled the ball. Defensive back Trey Anderson recovered the loose ball, racing 23 yards for the touchdown as the Royals extended their lead to 14.
On their next possession, Bethel would eat up 6:50 off the clock before extending their lead to 21. Of the 13 plays on the drive, 11 of them were for runs, as Sam Gibas, Roste, and Mike Delich kept both the clock and the chains moving. Three times the team was faced with a third-down situation, converting in every case. Roste scored from 4 yards out to make it 21-0, which was the score heading into the half.
The defense was absolutely dominating in the first half, allowing just 57 yards of total offense on 25 plays. Twice Concordia turned the ball over on downs, they punted twice, and fumbled on another possession.
The second half did not go much better for Concordia. The Cobbers received the opening kickoff following the break, but Sheridan fumbled. Brendan Whalen recovered, giving his team the ball at the Concordia 22. Three plays later, Gideon Ehrabor scored from 8 yards out to give Bethel a 28-0 lead.
On their next possession, the Royals extended their lead to 35. Once again, it was a bruising running game a that did the job s the team ate 5:54 off the clock, moving 53 yards in 12 plays before Delich scored from 3 yards out.
The Cobbers were forced to punt on their next drive as well, but a fumble on the punt return gave Concordia the ball at the Bethel 6 yard line. Sheridan scored from two yards out three plays later to get the visitors on the board, 35-7.
Each team would score a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bethel would be the first to score as they would cap off another longest possession, moving 13 plays before Delich scored from 1 yard out to make it 41-7. That was the fourth possession of the game where Bethel had at least an 11 play drive. Three times on the possession the team gave itself a fresh set of downs by converting on third-down, as the Bethel offense was 8 of 15 on third-down conversions and a perfect 2 for 2 on fourth-down conversion attempts for the day.
Concordia would finally find the end zone once again on their last possession of the contest. The team moved 55 yards in 11 plays before Sheridan scored from 4 yards out to cut the deficit to 28. However, the Cobbers would get no closer, falling 41-13.
The Bethel defense got several outstanding performances, starting with Drew Ragsdale, who made eight tackles and had a sack. Brendan Whalen had six tackles and a forced fumble. The offense was led by Jaran Roste, who was 11-17 passing for 101 yards and a score. He rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown off 15 attempts. Mike Delich gained only 22 yards on the day, but scored twice.
Next week, Bethel University (6-1) will take on Hamlin University (0-7) at Klass Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM.
By Robert Pannier