WICHITA — The Bethany College Swedes are leading the KCAC in heartbreaking football losses.
For the second time this year, the Swedes let a victory to a top team get away as on Saturday they coughed up a 17-point lead by allowing 20 fourth-quarter points to Friends in an ego-sapping 34-31 loss.
Hutchinson High product Kelly Roberts’ 42-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in the game completed the frenetic Friends comeback. He had tied the game at 31-all with 4:54 to go on a 21-yarder.
Bethany earlier this season lost a last-minute game to Sterling, another KCAC upper-division team.
But this one hurt so much more because the Swedes firmly had this game under control before it all unraveled.
The Swedes held leads of 24-7 and 31-14, but Friends saw a share of the KCAC lead slipping away and pulled out all the stops for the win.
“This was a game that we had so many opportunities to finish, yet our mistakes were costly on all three sides of the ball," said Bethany coach Manny Matsakis, whose team is now 3-3 in the KCAC and 4-4 overall. "Give credit to Friends for outplaying us today."
Bethany was up 14-7 at the half. An Adam Maisch field goal pushed it to 17-7, then the Swedes’ Steven Williams scored on a pick-six of Friends quarterback Aaron Hansen for a 24-7 lead.
That was short-lived as Friends’ Carlos Cox sped 97 yards on the kickoff return to make it 24-14, but Bethany went back up 31-14 on a 9-yard TD pass from Virgil Bridges to favorite target Rodney Molette.
But it was all Friends after that. After Molette’s TD, it took Friends just over a minute to score to make it 31-28, then Roberts kicked the Falcons to the win with his two field goals in the final 5 minutes.
The Bethany offense, which had stampeded through Kansas Wesleyan last week, was stifled to 243 yards, 137 on the ground and 106 through the air. Jasaan Eley rushed for a team-high 47 yards for the Swedes. Bridges threw the ball only eight times, but his four completions totaled 106 yards.
The schedule is unrelenting for the Swedes, who host what should be an angry Tabor team on Saturday. Bethany upset the Bluejays last year for its only KCAC win, while Tabor — at one time this season No. 3 in the country — has lost back-to-back games, including Saturday’s 15-14 loss to a depleted McPherson College team that has been ravaged by injuries. Bethany, Tabor and McPherson are now in a three-way tie for fourth place in the KCAC.
• STATISTICS •
• Bethany Listed First •
First Downs — 11, 21. Rushing-Yards — 48-137; 37-109. Passing — 4-8-1-106; 14-27-2-222. Punts-Avg. — 6-44.; 5-41.2. Fumbles-Lost — 3-2; 3-1. Penalties-Yards — 10-65; 5-37.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
• Rushing •
Bethany — Molette 7-48, Eley 13-47.
Friends — Rogers 18-66.
• Passing •
Bethany — Bridges 4-8-1-106.
Friends — Hansen 13-26-2-166, Camp 1-1-0-56.
• Receiving •
Bethany — Atherton 2-36, White 1-40, Molette 1-30.
Friends — Allen 3-48, Brandon 3-33, Glover 2-86, Camp 2-17.