Entering the second half of Saturday afternoon’s contest, the Carthage Redmen looked like they were back on their heals. The team trailed the Bethel Royals 28-12, and the way that the Bethel offense was clicking this looked like the Royals would put up a whole lot more points. However, a dominating second half performance by the Carthage defense all but shut down the Bethel offense, and the Redmen took command to eventually take the lead in the game before winning in overtime on a 13-yard run from Jamel Davis to win 40-34.
For much of the first quarter the Carthage Redmen were dominating this contest. They would take the opening kickoff and march down the field where they would come away with a field goal. The big play of the drive came on a 36-pass play from Ethan Olles to Javier Rhodes that moved the ball to the Bethel 26. A personal foul on the play added 13 more yards and suddenly the Redmen were inside the red zone. There the drive stalled, as the Bethel defense stiffened to hold Carthage to a 38-yard field goal by Lance Unland.
Nine minutes later the Redmen kicked another field goal, this time a 30-yarder from Unland. That capped off a 10-play, 50-yard drive that saw London Townsend carry the ball five times on the drive for 23-yards.
The Royals were having no success moving the ball at all through most of the first quarter but ,following the second field goal, the offense came to life. It began on third and 2 when Bridgeport Tusler made a nice move and ran for 19-yards before being tackled. Two-plays later Andrew Dzurik found Bryce Marquart for 18-yards, and then a big pass inference call made it first and goal at the 13. Three plays later Dzurik connected with Jackson Canfield for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Bethel.
Following the touchdown, the Royals defense forced a punt. That put the ball back in Dzurik’s hands and he would deliver again. Starting from his own 39, the Royals QB hit Drew Neuville down the middle for 25-yards to begin the drive. Following completions to Canfield and Marquardt, the drive looked like it would stall when two plays resulted in six-yards, making it third and 4 at the Carthage 14. That is when Dzurik found RB Gunnar Bloom coming out of the backfield and hit him in stride for the score.
On the next Redmen drive, the Royals special teams unit would come up big. On fourth and 4, Dawson Brown came from the side and blocked the punt. Bethel recovered at the Carthage 9, and three players later Bloom scored from a yard out and it was 21-6.
This game looked like it would get out of control but the Redmen mounted an 8-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. The score occurred when it was second and 10 at the Bethel 48. Townsend took the ball and broke outside, rushing to the end zone for the score. The extra-point was blocked to keep the score at 21-12.
The Redmen would start their next drive on their own 9, and looked like they would go three and out, but a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive. Four plays later, Olles went back to pass and threw down the sidelines, but Dawson Brown made a great play to intercept the ball. He then raced to the end zone for the 55-yard touchdown and suddenly in was 28-12. That would be the score heading into the half.
This game looked like it was going to turn into a blow out, but Carthage completely dominated the second half. On their first possession of the half, it took just three-plays before they were in the end zone. The big play of the drive was a 38-yard pass from Olles to Rhoades for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and suddenly it was an 8-point game.
It would remain that way through the third and into the fourth. That is when Carthage would make it a two-point game. Davis carried the ball on the final six-plays of the 12-play drive, eventually scoring from 3-yards out to make it 28-26. The conversion would be no good and Bethel would hang onto the lead.
On the next possession, the Royals were forced to punt after six-plays and it was right back in the hands of the Carthage offense. Starting from their own 19, they would then go on a meticulous 16-play, 81-yard drive that simply wore the Bethel defense down. The drive took 9:02 before Davis scored from 10-yards out. The two-point conversion was good, and the Redmen led by 6.
There was just 1”32 left in the game when the Royals got the ball and, by the way they had been playing, it did not look good to get a big drive going. However, Dzurik showed great composure, hitting Marquart on a 29-yarder down the sideline to start the drive. Three plays later it was fourth and 3 and, after three timeouts, Dzurik found Marquart on a little out for the first down. The QB completed a 17-yard pass to Neuville to the Carthage 2, and Tusler’s dive into the end zone tied the score. On the extra-point, a player for Carthage got a hand on it and deflected the ball enough that it would just go to the left of the goal post to keep the score tied.
Into overtime the game went. Bethel would get to the 19 on their first possession, where they would go for it on fourth and 5. The pass fell incomplete. Carthage then took the ball on their opportunity and, on the second play, Davis rushed 13-yards up the middle for the touchdown to win the game, 40-34.
Olles finished 18-33 for 282-yards and a TD. Davis had 124-yards on 23-carries and 3-TD. Townsend had 18-carries for 110-yards. Rhoades had 6-receptions for 138-yards and a TD.
For the Royals, Dzurik was 22-43 passing for 215-yards and 2-TDs. Marquardt had 10-catches for 93-yards. Allen Wollenberg had 16-tackles for the Royals and Brown had 15.
Next week the Bethel Royals open conference play as the Concordia Cobbers come to town. Game time is 1:00.
By Robert Pannier