Bethel escapes Wiens Stadium with 3OT win


Bluejays quarterback Marc Amos scrambles away from Threshers defensive lineman James McCartney during Saturday?s 32-29 loss.

Andrew Ottoson/ Free Press

The Tabor College football team missed out on its first win three times Saturday?and that was just in the multiple overtimes of Bethel's 32-29 win.

Tabor also missed two extra point kicks during regulation, and ended up misfiring on a potential game-winner in the first phase of the third overtime.

?This was a very gut wrenching loss; however, it was the first time we were not beaten during regulation play?or during two over-time periods,? coach Mike Gottsch said. ?This should be a huge boost of confidence for our guys.?

Although struggling with the kicking game, the Bluejays competed fiercely from start to finish, on the field and the scoreboard. But the Bluejays sought more than moral victories. In the end, they were undone by many of the same problems that have beset them all season long.

When Bethel scored on the opening series?a 12-play doozy of a drive?Tabor countered with a 10-play march ending in a field goal and a seven-play set capped by Derek Washington's 1-yard touchdown run.

The extra point kick helicoptered away, but the Bluejays led 9-7?their first lead since scoring the opening touchdown against Friends (Sept. 26).

?Normally, Stephen is Mr. Automatic, but unfortunately, the missed PATs in regulation and a missed field goal in overtime certainly were points we wish we had.?

Later in the second quarter, Marc Amos connected with Chris Roddy for a 21-yard touchdown pass; the second missed point-after left the Bluejays leading 15-7.

It took barely two minutes for the Threshers to counter, with Goessel High School alumnus Garrett Hiebert punching in a 1-yard run at the end of a 6-play series. Hiebert hit former Hesston High School standout Lee Voth-Gaeddert for a 9-yard touchdown just before halftime, and a 2-point conversion run by Jarrett Abell put Bethel up by seven, 22-15.

Abell scored again midway through the fourth quarter, but the Threshers simply could not cover Roddy one-on-one down the stretch. He caught touchdown passes of 20 and 44 yards, and Gulledge buried both PAT kicks to tie the game.

?The defense played very well Saturday, and the offense showed lots of fight with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to send the game into overtime,? Gottsch said.

Late in the final quarter, Bethel drove to the Tabor 30 before a turnover denied them a chance to kick for the win in regulation. A Bluejays defensive lineman deflected one of Hiebert?s pass, leading to an interception at the 10-yard line.

Overtime required six possessions, as neither team's offense solved the other's defense until runs by Abell and Jeremy Newhouse brought Bethel to the Tabor 2-yard line, setting up a 19-yard field goal for Voth-Gaeddert, who nailed it.

Bethel's offense produced slightly more total yards?435 versus Tabor's 416?but the Bluejays pass-heavy offense averaged 1.5 more yards per play.

But the Bluejays also lost three fumbles, struggled to convert third downs, and allowed a host of large gains against both the run and the pass.

Gottsch said the turnovers and the missed kicks ?were costly in a very evenly matched contest.?

He told the Newton Kansan that in ?Both those overtimes, it was ours to win.?

While Tabor fumbled its first two possessions away, Bethel popped two kicks wide right. Gulledge?s try in the third overtime was also wide right.

Apart from strong outings by wide receivers Roddy (five catches, 120 yards and three scores) and Dan Jost (five catches, 71 yards), the Bluejays struggled to find consistency from their offensive weapons.

?We had some good success in air,? Gottsch said. ?Marc was over 60 percent passing with 300 yards and three touchdowns.

Derek Washington broke several long gains, including a 59-yard flare pass that set up the first of the Amos-to-Roddy connections.

Bluejays defensive end Clark Wozich wrecked havoc against the Bethel backs, with two tackles for loss and two sacks totaling 40 negative yards.

Joaquim Haywood had 11 tackles?nine solo?and Teal Stutzman had five solo tackles, eight total and 2.5 for loss.

Coming?Tabor (0-6 KCAC, 0-7 overall) will play No. 16 McPherson in its final home game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

?We have an opportunity this week to play one of the top nationally ranked teams,? Gottsch said. ?For us to be successful this week, we must have zero turnovers, win one quarter at a time and feed off the successes we had against Bethel.

?We beat a good Mac team last year,? he said. ?Games must be played to be decided; our players are hungry for a win.?

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