Royals Defense Smothers Pioneers in Decisive 28-7 Victory
The Bethel University Royals defense put together another dominating performance, allowing the University of Wisconsin-Platteville just seven points and 234 yards of total offense as the Royals rolled to a 28-7 victory. The Pioneers held the ball for just 25:24 and recorded 14 first downs. That gave plenty of opportunities for the Bethel offense to take command of this game, as quarterback Jaran Roste threw for 270 yards and rushed for 70 more. Roste threw for a touchdown and scored two on the ground.
The Royals got things going right away, taking the opening kickoff and moving 75 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. Bethel kept the ball on the ground through the first four plays, reaching the 43-yard line where they faced a third and 3. That is when Roste connected with Joey Kidder for 8 yards and a first down. On the next play, the Bethel quarterback connected with Micah Niewald for seven more yards. Faced with a second and 3 at the Platteville 42, Roste found Sid Boros coming out of the backfield, hitting him in stride and watching Boros do the rest, as he raced for the 42-yard touchdown to give the Royals a 7-0 lead.
It remained that way until the Pioneers were able to tie the score on their second possession of the game. Wisconsin-Platteville moved the ball expeditiously, marching 80 yards in 10 plays. Only once on did the Pioneers face a third-down, when they had a third and 8 at their own 32-yard line. That is when quarterback Collin Schuetz found receiver Donald Allender for 30 yards, moving the ball inside Bethel territory. On the 10th play of the drive, Allender scored from 4 yards out to make it a 7-7 tie.
The score remained tied heading into the half, and this became a defensive struggle through the third quarter. Both defenses were spectacular, forcing 10 punts and two turnovers over the next 12 drives.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Royals would break the defensive struggle. After the Bethel defense was able to force a punt deep inside Wisconsin-Platteville territory, the Royals offense was set up at the Pioneers 41. On the second play of the drive, Roste connected with Boros for 20 yards down to the UWP 17. After a completion of 14 yards to Ethan Sailer put the ball at the 3-yard line, Roste called his own number, cruising into the end zone to give his team a 14-7 lead.
The Pioneers methodically marched down to just outside the Bethel 20, where they faced a fourth and 10. Looking for points, the team went for the field goal, but it was blocked by Jacob Holmen, keeping the Royals on top by seven.
The team then went the other direction, extending their lead to 14 thanks to a punishing ground attack. Roste kept the ball for the first two plays of the drive, then connected with Kidder for 28 yards and a first down to the Platteville 41. Four plays later, Aaron Ellingson found the seam and raced 20 yards before being tackled at the 12. On second and 6 at the 8-yard line, it was Bryce Kunkle’s turn, bursting outside before finding the pylon for a touchdown.
The defense continued to dominate for Bethel, and they gave their offense prime position when Judson Williams intercepted a Schuetz pass at the 38-yard line. Four plays later, Roste kept the ball on a fourth and 5 play, escaping two tackles before racing 33 yards for a touchdown. That made it 28-7, which would be the final.
The individual numbers for the Royals were not impressive. Nate Farm led Bethel with eight tackles and Holmen had the only sack of the day. He also forced a fumble and blocked a field goal. However, the overall numbers for the Royals defense were quite impressive. They held the Pioneers to just 14 first downs and 58 yards on the ground. Schuetz completed 23 of 39 passes for just 176 yards, a 4.5 yards per attempt average.
The Bethel offense dominated on the ground, putting up 191 yards rushing and 461 total yards. Roste had a spectacular day, completing 17 of 21 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries, adding two scores. Kunkle carried the ball 13 times for 69 yards and a TD. Kidder was the leading receiver with five catches for 89 yards, and Boros added four receptions for 85 yards, going over 100 total yards on the day with 21 yards on the ground.
The Bethel University Royals (2-0) will have a week off before a huge showdown against St. John’s (1-0) on September 25 in Collegeville. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier