There are a lot of things that can help a team to pull off a much needed victory, and Joel Koenecke was more than willing to do his share on Saturday afternoon at Gustavus Adolphus. The receiver made 5-receptions for 79-yards and added a kickoff return for 92-yards in the Bethel Royals 24-3 victory. The Royals defense held the Gusties to just 202 total yards of offense, as Kyle Kilgore and Josh Dalki each recorded two sacks.
Neither team was able to move the ball on the first three possessions of the game. Gustavus went three and out in each of their first two possessions, losing three-yards in each drive. Bethel was forced to punt after just three plays on their opening possession as well. However, on their second drive they would reach the end zone.
Starting from their own 30, the Royals moved 70-yards in 13-plays. The drive got off on a terrible foot when Jake Marsh was sacked and fumbled on the opening play but he was able to recover the fumble. Runs by Sam Gibas and Hayden Foote gave the team a first down, the first of the game for either team. Gibas had five carries on the drive, gaining 30 yards, and Joel Koenecke had 2-receptions for 17-yards. On first and goal from the one, Foote burst up the gut and scored to make it 7-0.
Before the first quarter ended, the Gusties started an impressive 16-play drive that moved the ball to the Bethel 13. There it was fourth and goal and Gustavus opted to kick the field goal. Brendan Boche nailed the 29-yarder to make it 7-3.
The Gusties were right back in it, but not for long. The kickoff landed in the hands of Koenecke, who followed his blocking and raced 92-yards for the touchdown. That put the Royals up by 11, and Gustavus Adolphus would not recover.
On the next possession for Bethel University, they would find the end zone again. The drive began at the Royals 27 and, on the first play of the drive, Marsh hit Jon Pytlak for 38-yards to the Gusties 35. On third and 4 at the 18, the Marsh to Koenecke connection came up big, gaining 14-yards to the four yard line. Two plays later, Foote scored to make it 21-3.
While the Royals offense had reached the end zone three times, it was the defense that was completely stymying the Gusties offense. In the first half, Gustavus had five possessions and gained just 71 total yards.
It the second half, neither team could generate much offense. The Royals added a 36-yard field goal by Blake Hottle in the third quarter to extend the lead to 21. However, that would be the only points of the half.
The Bethel University defense smothered the Gusties on this rainy afternoon. Zach Eenhuis led the team with 15-tackles and Kyle Kilgore was second with 12 and added 2-sacks. Josh Dalki also had 2-sacks. Gustavus had just 105-yards passing.
Joel Koenecke led the offense for the Royals, making 5-receptions for 79-yards to go along with his kickoff return. Sam Gibas had 74-yards rushing and Hayden Foote scored 2-touchdowns. The Gusties got 74-yards rushing from Jamison Buelke.
The Bethel Royals are off next Saturday before their big showdown with the St. Thomas Tommies on October 28.
By Robert Pannier