On Quick Slants this week, Head Coach Steve Johnson made it clear that his team was going to run the football a lot this weekend, and that is exactly what they did on Saturday. Led by 162-yards by Bridgeport Tusler, the Bethel University Royals rushed for 379-yards on 65-carries to down St. Olaf 44-7. That gave the team their first win of the season.
Using the relentless running attack and a stifling defense, Bethel jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. St. Olaf received the opening kickoff, but were forced to punt after six-plays. That gave the Royals the ball at their own 22. Bethel then went on a 16-play drive that went 78-yards in just 4:53 before they would score. Tusler carried the ball six-times on the drive and Brady Bomsta added three more carries. Andrew Dzurik’s pass to Josh Werness for the four-yard touchdown gave the Royals the 7-0 lead.
On the Oles next possession, they were forced to punt after just three plays. Travis Wood went back to kick on fourth and 7 at his own 15, but John Dunn broke through the line and partially blocked the kick. The ball carried just 17-yards where Riley McCann picked it up. He raced 21-yards to the St. Olaf 11 before he was finally tackled. On the next play, Tusler burst to the outside and scored to make it 14-0.
Just before the quarter came to an end, Brett Norling intercepted a Jack Goldstein pass at the St. Olaf 19. Runs by Trey Anderson and Tusler moved the ball to the one, where Gunnar Bloom scored to extend the lead to 20.
In the second quarter, the Royals would use another long drive to extend their lead. This time they started from their own 24. All 13-plays in the drive were runs, with Werness scoring from two-yards out to make it 27-0.
That would the score at the half, as the Royals defense was swarming all over the Oles offense. Of the seven drives that St. Olaf had in the first half, the Oles had just three total yards of offense. Two drives ended in negative yardage and the St. Olaf offense had series of three-plays or less on five of their drives. It was an absolutely awesome defensive showing by Bethel.
In the second half, the Royals would add two touchdowns and a field goal. The first score came on Bethel University’s first possession. Tusler took the handoff and raced 59-yards for the score to extend the lead to 34. A Blake Hottle 26-yard field goal extended the lead to 37-0. The field goal capped off an impressive 22-play drive that took 7:45 off of the clock.
St. Olaf would finally score when Bryan Aviles scored from one-yard out to make it 37-7. That capped off an impressive Oles drive that went 71-yards in 14-plays.
Bethel responded right away. Beginning from their own 11-yard line, the Royals moved the length of the field in 7-plays, before Werness scored from four-yards out. The big play of the drive came on a 50-yard pass play from freshman Jake Marsh to Jon Pytiak. The touchdown made it 44-7, which would be the final.
Marsh was impressive in his debut for Bethel, completing 5 of 6 passes for 100-yards. The running game was the big story however, with Tusler being the star of that story. The junior carried the ball 20-times for 156-yards and 2-TDs. Bomsta had 20-carries as well for 122-yards. Werness scored twice.
The Royals defense held the Oles to 200 total yards of offense, -4 on the ground. That included six-sacks, led by Andrew Ragsdale who had two. He also had 7-tackles.
The Royals welcome St. John’s to Royals Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is 1:00 PM.
By Robert Pannier