McPHERSON — For the second straight week, the Bethel College football team made some noise, but struggled to make defensive stops, falling to McPherson 51-31 Saturday in the KCAC opener at McPherson Stadium.
The Bethel defense gave up 580 yards total offense.
"You can't give up 50 in the KCAC. You'll lose every game," Bethel coach Marty Mathis said. "That's on D. My hat's off to our offense. We scored 31. My hat's off to McPherson. They kept coming back and scoring points."
McPherson was led by quarterback Jordan Hoffman, who hit 24 of 35 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Tremon Robinson had five catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Paul Rotering had three catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Terrance Jones had 26 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown. Havelock Pomele and Scott Thibedeaux each added a rushing touchdown.
Kicker Mike Phillips hit three field goals and seven of seven PAT kicks. Phillips and Hoffman both took KCAC player of the week awards at special teams and offense respectively.
Bethel gave up five sacks. McPherson's Chris Ellison was credited with 2.5 sacks.
"That's going to happen when you have five linemen and you're throwing the ball," Mathis said.
Bethel was led by quarterback Bo Pratt, who hit 21 of 33 passes for 282 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Raul Silva had four catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Stephen Scott had 55 yards rushing with a touchdown. Bethel was held to 49 yards rushing in the game.
"We started to run the ball better in the second half," Mathis said. "We have to establish a little more run. We're a spread team. That's what we're relying on. Thirty-one is enough to win it. They had four fourth downs, where we didn't get it stopped. That's 28 punt."
For the third straight week, Bethel did come out ahead on turnovers, recovering two and giving up one. Stephan Wilson also blocked a punt to set up a field goal.
Bethel had two drives that stalled out in the first quarter. The first ended on downs, setting up a long McPherson drive that ended with a 29-yard Phillips field goal. The second ended on an interception that set up a 22-yard Terrance Jones run.
Special teams and defense set up the Threshers in the second quarter. A blocked punt gave the Threshers the ball at the McPherson 3. Bethel had to settle for a 20-yard Max Wren field goal.
A McPherson fumble set up a 47-yard pass from Pratt to Silva on fourth and long for a score to tie the game.
A McPherson drive nearly ended on penalties. Robinson caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Hoffman on fourth down with 2:23 remaining in the half. A Bethel defender fell down on the play.
McPherson struck on its next series, a 47-yard pass from Hoffman to Rotering with 40 seconds left in the half. Rotering broke two tackles on the play.
Bethel got to the McPherson 11 with five seconds left in the half. Setting up in the swinging gate, Bethel tried a pass play that sailed over the head of an open receiver.
McPherson needed just five plays in the second half to score as Hoffman hit a 58-yard pass to Robinson. Bethel needed just six plays to respond, aided by a pair of major McPherson penalties, scoring on a three-yard Scott run.
After a three-and-out series for McPherson, Bethel scored on a 16-yard pass from Pratt to La'Terious Pouncy.
McPherson struck back with a 90-yard drive that ended on a 33-yard Thibedeaux run. Thibedeaux was hit in the backfield, but was spun forward by his lineman and ran to daylight.
Bethel got back within a touchdown after a 16-yard pass from Pratt to Silva with 13:51 remaining in regulation. McPherson replied with a 39-yard Phillips field goal with 11 minutes remaining.
Pratt was sacked three straight times on the next series, setting up a 38-yard Phillips field goal. Bethel went four-and-out on its following possession at the Bethel 26, setting up a one-yard Pomele run with 1:50 remaining.
Bethel takes on KCAC co-leader Ottawa at 6 p.m. Saturday in Ottawa. The 2-1 Braves moved up a spot in the NAIA poll to 12th after a 41-15 win over Bethany.
"They are tremendously coached," Mathis said. "They have unbelievable following. We have to go out there and show our best."
Bethel 0 10 14 7 —31
McPherson 10 14 14 13 —51
1q. M Phillips 29-yd. field goal 7:08
1q. M Freeman 22-yd. run (Phillips kick) 1:02
2q. B Wren 20-yd. field goal 14:49
2q. B Silva 47-yd. pass from Pratt (Wren kick) 10:09
2q. M Robinson 36-yd. pass from Hoffman (Phillips kick) 2:23
2q. M Rotering 47-yd. pass from Hoffman (Phillips kick) :40
3q. M Robinson 58-yd. pass from Hoffman (Phillips kick) 13:01
3q. B Scott 3-yd. run (Wren kick) 11:26
3q. B L.Pouncer 16-yd. pass from Pratt (Wren kick) 9:51
3q. M Thibedeaux 33-yd. run (Phillips kick) :54
4q. B Silva 16-yd. pass from Pratt (Wren kick) 13:51
4q. M Phillips 39-yd. field goal 11:00
4q. M Phillips 38-yd. field goal 5:05
4q. M Pomele 1-yd. run (Phillips kick) 1:50 Team stats
First downs 18 29
Rushing-yards 30-49 51-218
Passing yards 282 362
Comp-att-int 21-38-1 24-35-0
Punts-avg. 5-38.8 3-20.0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 10-98 9-71
Time of poss. 24:11 35:49
RUSHING — Bethel: Scott 19-65, Castro 1-8, Freeman 2-2, Pratt 7-(-6), Peter 1-(-10). McPherson: Jones 26-128, Thibedeaux 13-86, Pomele 8-22, Hoffman 2-(-14).
PASSING — Bethel: Pratt 21-33-1, 282 yards; Peterson 0-4-0, 0 yards; Carter 0-1-0, 0 yards. McPherson: Hoffman 24-35-0, 362 yards.
RECEIVING — Bethel: Silva 4-91, L.Pouncy 3-61, Rodriguez 5-46, Hernandez 5-45, Alexander 4-39. McPherson: Robinson 5-115, Rotering 3-100, Ramos 5-62, White 6-32, Hardridge 4-32, Brady 1-21.
Missed field goals — none.