By Mark Schnabel
After sputtering on offense and special teams last week, the Bethel College football team will look to get the ship going in the right directions when the Threshers face the University of Saint Mary at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Berkel Stadium in Leavenworth.
This will be Bethel’s first trip to the Spires’ new digs, which were completed late last season.
Bethel is coming off a 10-0 loss to Ottawa last week at Fall Fest. The Threshers gave up a field goal set up by a long kickoff return. A bad punt snap in the second half led to a Braves touchdown.
Inconsistent play on offense also hampered the Threshers, getting shut out for the second time this season.
The defense played well for Bethel for the third straight week, limiting Ottawa’s scoring opportunities and holding a team to 10 points or fewer for the third time in four games.
Saint Mary opened the season with a 34-0 road win at Trinity Bible College, followed by a 23-7 loss to Concordia (Neb.) in the KCAC-GPAC Challenge. The Spires then beat Friends 41-28 and lost to 13th-ranked Tabor 31-10.
Last week, USM downed Bethany 34-33. The Spires trailed Bethany 20-14 after the first quarter, 27-17 at the half and 33-24 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Spires pulled within two points on an Easton Ridley 11-yard run with 11:19 to play. A 46-yard Aiden Pirrin field goal with 39 seconds left on the clock proved to be the game winner.
Traditionally, one of the most pass happy teams in the KCAC, the Spires have shown much more balance on offense this season. The Spires have 206 rushes to 100 passes and 835 rushing yards to 854 passing yards.
Drew Cortez has hit 55 of 89 passes for 822 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Ridley has 118 carries for 569 yards and six touchdowns. Jordan Cons leads the receiving corps with six catches for 226 yards and a touchdown. Isai Fernandez has nine catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Domenic DeFiore has just four catches for 62 yards, but two went for touchdowns.
On defense for the Spires, KyRandall Smith has 48 total tackles, followed by Isaiah Roth with 32. Andrew Kump and Jordan Riek each have 26 total tackles. Roth has three interceptions. Frank Romano has 4.0 sacks this season.
The Spires have sacked opposing quarterbacks 18 times and the offensive front has given up just nine sacks. The USM defense also has six interceptions, while the offense has given up just two.
Pirrin has hit three of four field goals this season. Pirrin also averages 43.0 yards a punt.
For Bethel, Matt Jones has hit 44 of 94 passes for 578 yards with two touchdowns and just one interception. Chase Sparks saw action late in the game against Ottawa, hitting three of five passes for 24 yards.
Jaylen Sykes leads the team in rushing with 348 yards on 82 carries with two touchdowns. TyShawn Simon has 29 carries for 159 yards and a score.
Marquis Jackson has 21 catches for 243 yards and a touchdown. Gary Jolivet has eight catches for 157 yards and a score.
On defense, Jariah Booker has 30 total tackles, followed by Antonio Rustin and Jordan Bell with 27 each. Rickey Rodriguez has three interceptions, followed by Devonte Singleton and Miles Steed with two each. Booker has recovered three fumbles. Rustin has 2.5 sacks.
Bethel has given up 14 sacks, while the defense has nine. Bethel has recovered 13 turnovers, while losing seven.