LINDSBORG — With their KCAC football title hopes more than likely gone, the Bethany College Swedes now concentrate on working toward a winning season in these final three weeks.
The Swedes saw their championship aspirations basically dashed last week when they frittered away a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in a 34-31 loss to KCAC co-leader Friends.
The Swedes return home Saturday to take on the last of the KCAC’s preseason “Big 4” when they entertain slumping Tabor. The Bluejays are still ranked No. 24 in the nation, but have lost back-to-back games to fall to 3-3 in the conference, the same as the Swedes and suddenly emerging McPherson College.
Bethany closes with games against Mac and Bethel, so it believes it has a chance to build momentum heading into next season.
The game could come down to which team can recover emotionally from a devastating loss. Bethany, 4-4 overall, now has lost a pair of KCAC games in the closing moments, while Tabor has lost its last two games by a total of four points.
Deficient quarterback play has contributed to Tabor’s demise. Without injured standout Simon McKee, the Bluejays have spun their wheels after pounding teams with a relentless ground game. Tabor was forced out of its comfort zone last week and quarterback Jordan Bernhardy was picked three times, the last INT leading to McPherson’s game-winning score. The Bluejays were held to more than 200 yards under their regular-season rushing average as the Bulldogs stuffed the flexbone attack that had piled up the nation’s second-best average.
Bethany has been its own worst enemy. There’s a feeling around the conference the Swedes have championship material, but their youth sometimes leads to unnecessary penalties that have been damaging. They continue to lead the KCAC in that category with 99 yards a game.