OTTAWA — The Bethany College Swedes have now won just two KCAC football games in coach Manny Matsakis’ 10 attempts.
But what victories they are.
The only Swede KCAC victory last year was a road stunner at Tabor, which went on to the NAIA national playoffs.
On Saturday, the Swedes may have taken a huge step toward putting their recent run of losing football behind them with an absolutely shocking 34-24 road stunner of No. 16 Ottawa, a result that only those in the Bethany locker room may have thought was possible.
It was the conference opener for both teams.
The Swedes fired the shot heard around the KCAC and handed former Swede All-American Kent Kessinger perhaps his most devastating loss in his Ottawa tenure and the first for the Braves against his alma mater since 2006.
Bethany can thank new gunslinger Jake Umphreyville on offense and Steven Williams on defense for the victory. Umphreyville, who came out of the bullpen last week to ignite the Swedes to 22 second-half points in a loss to Graceland, showed he’s a force by throwing for 230 yards and three scores. Williams lived in the OU backfield with 17 tackles, 12 of them of the solo variety.
But it’s Umphreyville who perhaps is taking the Swedes from also-ran to legitimate-contender status.
“Jake is still learning the offense, but when he gets to the sidelines we can talk about it and he is starting to see what I see and what I want him to see,” Matsakis said.
Umphreyville threw TD strikes to Nile Daniel and Rodney Molette in the first half. Throw in a short TD run by new starting running back Jasaan Ely and the Swedes were up 21-10 at the half. Ely would finish the night with 79 yards on 20 carries.
Ottawa did get as close as four in the second half, but never took the lead. The Swedes’ second-half scoring included another TD strike from Umphreyville to Daniel and a couple of Adam Maisch field goals.
OU All-American candidate Luke Lundy lived up to his billing with 147 yards on 22 carries and Michael Behr threw for 213. Joshua Stangby was the main target with 11 catches for 157 yards.
The Swedes, now 2-1 overall, will try to avoid a letdown on Saturday when they host Saint Mary, which is 0-3 on the season. The Spires lost their KCAC opener to No. 4 Tabor on Saturday, 35-14.
“We have a lot of inexperience on both sides of the ball," Matsakis said. "But we are improving every day in practice and we keep getting more comfortable with each other.”
• STATISTICS •
• Bethany Listed First •
First Downs — 19, 22. Rushes-Yards — 40-136; 42-157. Passing — 14-27-1-230; 20-38-1-213. Punts-Avg. — 3-41.3; 3-38.0. Fumbles-Lost — 3-0; 1-0. Penalties-Yards — 10-93; 4-42.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
Bethany — Ely 20-79, Evans 6-38.
Ottawa — Lundy 22-147.
Bethany — Umphreyville 14-27-1-230.
Ottawa — Behr 20-38-1-230.
Bethany — Daniel 4-118, Molette 4-49.
Ottawa — Stangby 11-157.