LINDSBORG — After going 0-for-2013 at Anderson Stadium, Bethany College’s retooled football team began the home schedule on a positive note Saturday night with a last-minute 21-14 victory over Southwestern Assemblies of God.
It was the first home victory for second-year Swede coach Manny Matsakis, whose team is hoping to turnaround its forgettable 2-9 2013 season, with both of those wins coming on the road.
Bethany quarterback Virgil Bridges scored on a one-yard run with 43 seconds left in the game to break a 14-all tie on a night the Swedes were dominant everywhere except on the scoreboard.
“Tonight was a big team victory," Matsakis said. "In adversity we were able to utilize players in multiple roles to seal a win. We are genuinely excited to improve our performance next week."
The Swedes piled up 332 yards of offense and their swarming defense permitted just 198. Bethany basically had the ball most of the game with 75 plays to 38 for the Lions, yet had to escape.
It was the running game that keyed the win. Drake Wells rushed for 66 yards and two scores, Bridges added 54 and two-way performer Jarrot Bell notched 41. Bethany rushed the ball 54 times for 221 yards and threw it only 21 times, with Bridges completing 13 for 111 as the short passing game was efficient.
Bethany led 14-7 at the half on a pair of TD runs by Wells of 1 and 10 yards.
The Swedes, who still have some players waiting to be cleared by the NAIA, showed signs that they’re going to turn things around this season. They had four drives of at least 13 plays and had a lot of athleticism on display.
They’ll try to make it 2-0 on Saturday when they travel to Iowa to play Graceland College. Graceland lost 34-0 to McPherson College in last year’s KCAC-Heart of America Challenge.
Kickoff will be 1 p.m.
• STATISTICS •
• Bethany Listed First
First Downs — 27, 13. Rushes-Yards — 54-221; 26-114. Passing — 13-21-1-111; 8-13-1-84. Punts-Avg. — 2-42.0; 3-32.3. Penalties-Yards — 8-50; 7-61. Fumbles-Lost — 2-1, 2-1.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
• Rushing •
Bethany — Wells 8-66, Bridges 13-54, Bell 7-41.
Southwestern Assemblies — Hopkins 8-45.
• Passing •
Bethany — Bridges 13-21-1-111.
Southwestern Assemblies — Collins 8-13-1-84.
• Receiving •
Bethany — Molette 6-83, Daniel 3-23.
Southwestern Assemblies — Moore 3-26.