On the most recent episode of Quick Slants, Bethel Head Football Coach Steve Johnson was asked by a fan if he expected to run a lot more this season. He assured that would be the case and he made sure he delivered on that promise on Saturday as the Royals rushed for 235 in the 41-29 victory over the Simpson College Storm. Sam Gibas led the ground attack with 108 yards and 3 touchdowns and Dawson Brown had 13 tackles and 2 interceptions.
This was a defensive struggle through the first five drives as the two teams recorded just 40 total yards during that span. However, Simpson would finally break the streak on their third possession of the game. Starting from their own 33, running back Cam Bunting and quarterback Tanner Krueger led the way. After Krueger completed a 14 yard pass to Austin Hronich, Bunting gained 14 yards on three carries. Krueger then found Hronich for 11 more yards and the team was moving the ball until they found themselves faced with a third and 8 at the Bethel 23. That is when Krueger found his favorite target for 23 more yards and the touchdown, putting Simpson on top 6-0. Dawson Brown blocked the extra point.
The Royals responded, moving the ball 71 yards in 11 plays to take the lead. The ground game was front and center on the drive, as the team ran the ball nine times for 55 yards. Sam Gibas scored from three yards out to put Bethel up 7-6.
The Storm would retake the lead when Zach Kreider hit a 26 yard field goal to put Simpson up 9-7. The lead did not last long, however.
A bruising ground game helped led the Royals on a 1o play, 54 yard drive to retake the lead. The team stayed to the ground for all 1o plays, with Bryce Kunkle having the big play of the drive, a 25 yard carry to the Simpson 19. Gibas scored his second touchdown of the game from two yards out to make it 14-9. That would be the score at half.
Simpson College would get the second half kickoff, but things would go terribly wrong. On second and 8 from their own 31, Krueger was looking for the first down, but Brown read the play completely, picking off the ball and racing 32 yards for the touchdown.
Later in the third, the Storm would use a turnover to cut the deficit to five. On first and 10 at the Bethel 24, Chris Bowles forced a fumble that he recovered. One player later, Krueger completed a 23-yard pass to Hronich for the TD to make it 21-16.
Simpson would retake the lead on their next possession, moving 84 yards on 10 plays. The turning point of the drive came on third and 14 when Brendan Whalen was called for a personal foul penalty giving Simpson a first down. Kreuger then connected with Joe McNally for 32 yards to the Bethel eight. Four plays later, Bunting scored on fourth and goal to put the Storm up 22-21.
The Royals responded with an 11 play drive that went 70 yards, lasting 5:52. The running attack dominated the drive, but it was a 27 yard completion from Jaran Roste to Joel Koenecke that was the big play of the possession. On third and goal from the five, Roste found Mike Delich for the touchdown. After the successful two point conversion, the Royals were back on top 29-22.
The Royals would score on their next drive as well, moving 88 yards in 13 plays. Gideon Erhabor and Gibas led the way with Gibas carrying the ball four times for 22 yards and Erhabor adding 21 yards on three carries. Gibas completed the drive with a six yard touchdown to make it 35-22.
The Storm would come right back to score, making it a six point contest. On second and 14 from the Bethel 16, Krueger hit West for the touchdown to make it 35-29.
However, Bethel put this game away, responding with a touchdown to go up by 12. It looked like the drive would stall when the Royals were faced with a fourth and 12 at the Storm 23. The team opted to go for it, and Roste connected with Drew Larsen for the touchdown to give the Royals a 41-29 lead. That would be the final.
Sam Gibas finished with 108 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries. Gideon Erhabor had 82 yards on 16 carries. Jaran Roste came off the bench to go 5 for 6 for 90 yards with two touchdowns. Dawson Brown had 13 tackles and two interceptions, and Kyle Peach added 10 tackles.
The Simpson College offense was led by Tanner Krueger, who was 22 of 37 for 3o9 yards and 3 scores. Austin Hronich had 7 catches for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Connor made 18 tackles and Ryan Lehr made two interceptions.
The Bethel Royals will open their home schedule on Saturday, taking on Wisconsin-River Falls. Kickoff is at 1:00.
By Robert Pannier