LINDSBORG — For all the notoriety the Bethany College offense receives, sometimes it’s overlooked that the Swedes can play some pretty good defense as well.
It was the defense’s turn to step up on Saturday as the Swedes outlasted Southwestern 21-16 to celebrate Homecoming Weekend in style.
The Swedes’ offense, coming off a 500-yard-plus effort last week, barely eclipsed the 200-yard mark against the Moundbuilders, but the Bethany defense gave up just about three yards a play even though it was on the field a greater portion of the time.
The victory kept the Swedes in the KCAC title chase at 2-2, just a game back of Tabor, Friends, Ottawa and Sterling. It also evened their overall record at 3-3, eclipsing last year’s victory total in the process.
The Moundbuilders actually dominated time of possession as they rattled off 86 plays to 66 for the Swedes. However, their 50 rushing attempts resulted in only 175 yards, while quarterback Tyler Crandall was just 12 of 36 for 87 yards against the sticky Bethany secondary.
It was an uneventful day for the Swedes’ normally potent offense. Jasaan Eley rushed for 73 yards on 22 carries and two scores, while Jake Umphreyville was limited to just 143 yards through the air, with one TD strike to favorite target Rodney Molette.
Bethany led 15-9 at the half, which included a Southwestern 2-pointer when it blocked a Swedes extra point and returned it all the way.
Bethany improved the lead to 21-9 after three quarters and turned it over to the defense the rest of the way. Steven Williams led the defensive charge with 12 tackles, while Trevor Smith had 11, along with an interception that he returned for 40 yards that set up the final Bethany touchdown.
Swede coach Manny Matasakis praised the defense, noting it was the best performance it had turned in since his arrival last year.
The Swedes have an excellent chance to remain in the hunt next week when they travel to Salina to take on slumping Kansas Wesleyan in the annual rivalry game.
• STATISTICS •
• Bethany Listed First •
First Downs — 16, 21. Rushes-Yards — 37-70; 50-175. Passing — 13-29-2-143; 12-26-1-87. Punts-Avg. — 7-36.5; 7-29.9. Fumbles-Lost — 1-0; 1-1. Penalties-Yards — 16-180; 9-85.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
• Rushing •
Bethany — Eley 22-73.
Southwestern — Sims 17-69.
• Passing •
Bethany — Umphreyville, 13-29-2-143.
Southwestern — Crandall 12-36-1-87.
• Receiving •
Bethany — Molette 7-96.
Southwestern — Kistler 5-22.