LINDSBORG — Bethany College punter Brett Crome will have his name etched in not only the Swedes’ football record book, but also the KCAC record book for his performance Saturday at Graceland University.
The junior from Bremen had an impressive afternoon for the Swedes. He played a big role in the contest and flipped field position in Bethany's favor multiple times. He had an opportunity to flip the field early in the contest and he delivered.
Following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Swedes were backed up on their own 15-yard line. The first time Crome touched the ball, he made an impact on the game. He unleashed a booming kick that traveled 84 yards. The Swedes’ defense held the Yellow Jackets, setting up their offense in good position to score. Bethany converted to tie the game 7-7.
"As soon as it left my foot it felt good, I knew it was going to be good, but I didn't think it would be as good as it was,” Crome said. “When the returner didn't catch it I knew we would pin them deep in their territory. Thankfully Khalil Clark got down there to stop it at the 1-yard line or it was going to roll into the end zone. It didn't really hit me how long of a punt it was until the next day when (assistant) coach (Mike) Lawrence told the team that I broke the school and conference record."
"Brett did an outstanding job, he was a big weapon in the kicking game for us," Lawrence said.
Crome's second punt of the game opened up the second quarter, a 49-yarder that drove the Graceland returner inside the 10-yard line. Crome also had punts of 37 yards and a pair of 45-yarders in the second quarter as he continually put Graceland in tougher spots than it would have anticipated as its defense left the field.
"Brett has not only developed into on of the finest punters in the nation (at any division), he is also one of the best athletes on our team and a proven weapon for the Swedes," Bethany coach Manny Matsakis. "As a punter, he is able to completely flip the field with the power of his leg."
Bethany was grateful for Crome's leg throughout the afternoon, but especially early in the third quarter. The Swedes were backed up to their own 1-yard line and went nowhere the whole offensive possession. Crome came on with the Yellow Jackets attacking for a punt block. Not only did he get the kick away with out it being blocked, the punt traveled 55 yards in the air, and there was no return on the play. Although the punt was not blocked, it was ruled that the ball was tipped because there were no flags for roughing or running into the kicker as Crome was spun around and landed on his back.
"As soon as I got out there, I realized how deep we would be and I knew I wouldn't have much time to get the ball off,” Crome said. “As Victor Carillo snapped the ball, I saw out of the corner of my eye Graceland coming for the block. I tried to hurry and kick it as hard as I could, but because of the limited time I thought it wouldn't be a great kick. The next thing I know I am laying on the ground and see the returner chasing after the ball around the 50 yard line. I was pretty happy with the punt based on the situation."
Crome punted six times and averaged 52.5 yards per punt.
Previously, the KCAC record was held by John McAnianch from Ottawa University in 1960. There have been a number of attempts that have come close to the record, but none before Crome had bested McAnianch's 83-yard punt. Derik Martinez (Tabor College) and Troy VanBlarcom (Kansas Wesleyan University) each kicked an 80-yard punt. Travis Eason of McPherson College kicked a 78-yard punt, while Paul Rotering also of McPherson, kicked a 77-yard punt. The remaining top 10 longest punts have all been since 2005, other than the previous record of McAninch.
"I would have never thought that I would break a school record, and definitely not a conference record," Crome said. "It is a real honor to have accomplished this feat and it is something I will always remember."