After allowing a total of 56 points in their first two contests, the Bethel Royals defense opened up conference play with a decisive showing, holding the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties to just 139 total yards in a 31-0 crushing of the Gusties. Bethel got 1.5 sacks from Cameron Monson and the team broke up seven passes, holding GAC quarterback Michael Veldman to just 5 0f 20 passing. Jaran Roste had his biggest day, throwing for 102 yards and rushing for 117 more to lead the offense.
The Royals looked like they would grab the early lead when they took the opening kickoff and marched to the Gusties 17 where they faced first and 10. However, John Krohn made a great defensive play, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Kolt Gorg. That did not prove to be as big of a blessing as they had hoped for, as the Gusties would be forced to punt. The ball sailed over the punters head who was tackled in the end zone by Brendan Whaley to give Bethel a 2-0 lead.
The Royals took the free kick and moved 50 yards in 10 plays to extend their last to nine. The running game was front and center as Roste and Sam Gibas combined to carry the ball nine times on the drive. Roste scored from four yards out on third and 2 to give Bethel University a 9-0 lead.
The Royals would find the end zone on their next possession as well, moving 89 yards in 11 plays to extend their lead to 15. The drive looked like it would stall early when Bethel was faced with a third and 16 at their own five. Roste connected with Drew Larsen for a 15 yard completion, but the Royals were still a yard short. However, they would get a fresh set of downs when the Gusties had too many men on the field on a fourth and 1 play. Three plays later, Roste found an opening and raced 35 yards before finally being brought down at the GAC 30. Roste would gain 11 on a second and 11 play, and Gibas followed with a 14 yard run to make it first and goal at the six. Two plays later, Roste scored from four yards out to make it 15-0.
On the Gusties next possession, Trent Substad blocked the punt attempt by Brayton Finch. Whalen picked up the ball and raced 28 yards for the touchdown to extend the lead to 22-0.
The Royals added one more score the next time they had the ball. Starting from the Gustavus 43, Bethel kept the ball on ground, starting with a 20 yard gain on the first play of the drive by Roste. On second and goal at the two, Roste kept the ball for his third touchdown of the game to put the Royals on top 28-0.
On their first possession of the second half, Bethel University would add their final score of the game. The team moved to 35 yards in nine plays before facing a fourth and three at the 11. The team went for the field goal, and Blake Hottle nailed a 28 yarder to make it 31-0. That would be the final.
While the offense and special teams were making big plays to help the team get ahead, the defense was simply shutting down the Gustavus offense. Of the Gusties 11 possessions, the team was forced to punt after just three plays on seven of those possessions. QB Michael Veldman was pressured all day, as the Royals recorded three sacks. When he did have some time, there was no open receiver, as the Gusties QB completed just 5 of his 20 passes for 84 yards.
Mike Delich led the team with 8 tackles and Kyle Kilgore had 5 tackles, 2 for a loss. Cameron Monson had 5 tackles, including 1.5 sacks.
Freshman quarterback Jaran Roste had his biggest day, carrying the ball 15 times for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also completed 10 of 13 passes for 102 yards. RB Sam Gibas carried the ball 22 times for 108 times.
The Bethel Royals go to 3-0 for the first time since 2013. They will look to remain undefeated next Saturday when they take on Carleton College in Northfield. Kickoff is 1:00.
By Robert Pannier