LINDSBORG —The Bethany College Swedes knew there was simply too much talent on their football team to be winless on the season.
The Swedes, who on paper have all the ingredients to be a KCAC contender, avoided an 0-5 start on Saturday, thanks to a miracle rally engineered by backup quarterback and former McPherson College Bulldog Bo Savage, who directed a game-winning 80-yard touchdown drive. It was capped by a 25-yard TD pass to Zach Garza with 22 seconds left in the game for a come-from-behind 18-16 stunner over Saint Mary.
Bethany had trailed 16-0 early in the second half, but stormed back with three touchdowns to finally pick up the first win of the Paul Hubbard Era.
“I am really proud of our players and coaches,” Hubbard said. “The players had no quit and finished extremely strong. Football is a game of adversity, the team that responds the best will win the game and our guys handled adversity great tonight."
Saint Mary actually led 14-0 just 10 minutes into the game as Drew Cortez punctured the Swedes’ secondary for a pair of TD strikes and started the game completing his first 11 passes. But from there, the Spires could do little against the Swedes’ defense, which rose up and played with ferocity.
Tevis Linnebur and Kayden Clements put Bethany in position to win the game by scoring on touchdown runs in the second half. Saint Mary had a chance to take a 19-12 lead with 3:50 to go in the game, but a short field goal was missed and it gave the Swedes the impetus they needed to pull out the win.
The much-heralded Bethany running game finally appeared as Linnebur flashed his old form with 98 yards on 20 carries to lead the way behind the massive offensive line. Saint Mary actually had a wide margin in yards, 423-326, but that advantage was built up early before Bethany settled down defensively.
Savage was 8 of 19 for 106 yards after Hubbard made the decision to pull starter Virgil Bridges, who has been hampered by a bad ankle and was ineffective in the first half.
The Swedes are 1-2 in the KCAC and host Sterling College on Saturday.