By Mark Schnabel
After two games, the Bethel College football team has already exceeded the scoring output of last year.
Now the 1-1 Threshers take to the road for the first time this season to face 1-1 McPherson Colleege at 7 p.m. Saturday at McPherson Stadium.
Bethel is coming off a 38-31 loss to Central Methodist last week as part of the first Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference-Heart of America Athletic Conference Challenge Series.
McPherson opened with a 37-31 loss to Bacone, which received votes in the NAIA poll, followed by a 34-0 win over Graceland in the KCAC-HAAC Challenge Series. McPherson had the widest margin of victory in the series for a KCAC team.
"We've come out strong in practice this week," Bethel coach Marty Mathis said. "We need to cut down on some penalties and mistakes that cost us. We had a chance to win against Central Methodist. We came close to tying it up at the end."
McPherson is led by quarterback Jordan Hoffman, who has hit 34 of 55 passes for 372 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Terrance Jones has 26 carries for 116 yards and a score. Havelock Pomele has 21 carries for 109 yards.
Leading the receiving crew for the Bulldogs is Tremon Robinson with seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Jon White has seven catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Philip Wilson leads the defense with 21 total tackles. Burrton High grad Tyler Bruton has 15 total tackles, followed by Micah Roehl with 14.
"They have a very tough team with a big, strong offensive line," Mathis said. "They run the ball well. They were 4-5 last year, but they still had a very good team. On offense, they use the tight ends a lot. They run the spread. ... Defense, they play a lot of 3-3 and 4-3."
While it will be Mathis' first meeting against a KCAC opponent, it won't be his first meeting against McPherson's second-year head coach Pete Sterbick. The two last met in the 2011 NAIA playoffs, when Sterbick was offensive coordinator at Grand View and Mathis was defensive coordinator at Marian. Marian won the game 31-0.
The two schools were in the same conference, but opposite divisions in the Mid-States Football Association.
"Grand View has always had good football teams," Mathis said. "They were always a playoff contender."
Bethel enters the game led by quarterback Bo Pratt, who has hit 31 of 77 passes for 428 yards and seven touchdowns. Stephen Scott has 46 carries for 302 yards and a touchdown. Tommy Alexander has caught eight passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Ruben Hernandez has 11 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, Kipp Credeur has 25 total tackles, followed by Josh Kauffman with 21 and Leland Brown with 19. Credeur and Ja'Terious Pouncy each have two interceptions.
The Threshers have a +8 turnover margin after two games, forcing five interceptions and recovering six fumbles, while losing two interceptions and one fumble.
"With a lot of young guys and JUCO transfers out there, it's going to take some time to come together," Mathis said. "We need to reduce our mistakes. The team that makes the fewest mistakes this week is going to win."