After an 0-3 start, the Bethel College football team will be looking to turn its fortunes around when the Threshers take on the 1-2 McPherson Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Saturday at McPherson Stadium.
Bethel fell to Bethany 37-33 last week in a game the Threshers had numerous opportunities to win. McPherson opened the season with a 43-14 win over Texas Wesleyan in TWU’s first-ever game. The Bulldogs then lost to rival Bethany 57-43 and Southwestern 45-17. Both losses came on the road.
“Being 0-3, the guys really aren’t acting like it,” Bethel coach Morris Lolar said. “They are still upbeat. They are still working hard. They are just trying to get on their feet. They are still learning. We’ve love to be 3-0, but right now, we’re just trying to get a win under our belt. We’re still picking things up.”
There were a number of positives for the Threshers last week. It was the team’s best offensive output of the season both in terms of yards and points. The defense forced seven turnovers, including five interceptions.
“McPherson is a tough team,” Lolar said. “Overall, the KCAC is still very competitive. Tabor is all alone right now, but they are one injury or mistake away from anybody in this conference. This is a good time to get Mac, because it won’t get any easier as the season goes on.”
McPherson is led by quarterback Ed Crouch, who has hit 51 of 92 passes for 817 yards with an interception and seceb touchdowns. Crouch also leads the team in rushing with 199 yards on 39 carries with two touchdowns. Corey Davis has 33 carries for 183 yards and a touchdown.
Desmond Anderson leads the receivers with 237 yards on 10 catches with two touchdowns. Jackson Goodmiller has 12 catches for 125 yards and two scores. Eman McNeal has 10 catches for 126 yards and two scores.
On defense, Thomas Lanktree has 34 total tackles, followed by Dominic DeLuca with 25 and Tanner Williams with 20. Lanktree has an interception.
Kicker Jack Reid has hit five of six field goal attempts with a long of 40 yards.
“They have a solid defense, solid special teams and a very good quarterback,” Lolar said. “He is going to test us. They run a one-back set. They are going to try and spread you out as best as they can. We’re going to have to find a way to slow them down.”
Last week, Bethel turned the offense over to true freshman and Hesston native Zach Esau, who passed for 193 yards with two touchdowns. For the season, Esau has hit 16 of 44 passes for 203 yards with five interceptions and two touchdowns. TyShawn Simon leads the team in rushing with 88 yards on 35 carries with two touchdowns. Montero DuBose has 14 catches for 152 yards, followed by Arian Palmore with nine catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Jaraiah Booker has 28 tackles, followed by Reggie Young with 20 and Charles Johnson and Joseph Winfield each with 17. Young had three interceptions last week to tie a school record.
Bethel has lost two cornerbacks to injury — Devonte Singleton and Darius Jackson — but Lolar said the defense secondary played well last week.
“Our offense is finally starting to find an identity,” Lolar said. “We’ve been able to throw the ball downfield. We need to use our passing game to set up the run. … Esau did well. The older guys are starting to accept him. He made a couple nice plays last week, and we need to build on that. I was worried about our kicker (Brett Mathis). He was knocked down (punting) last week and then missed a couple of extra points and field goals. We gave him a couple of days off and he seems to be back to normal.”