McPHERSON — The Bethel College football team gave host McPherson a 31-point head start in a 48-14 loss Saturday in KCAC play at McPherson Stadium.

The loss sets the Threshers back to 0-4, 0-3 in KCAC play. McPherson improves to 2-2, 1-2 in KCAC play.

“This whole season has been a step back,” Bethel coach Morris Lolar said. “We’ve had high expectations of guys and they have not stepped forward. I don’t have answers for it. I’ll look at the film tonight. We’ll find something to turn this thing around.”

McPherson was led by Corey Davis, who rushed for 133 yards on 28 carries. Ed Crouch rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries and hit seven of 21 passes for 76 yards. Crouch passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a score.

Bethel was held to 214 yards total offense. Zach Esau hit nine of 19 passes for 84 yards and rushed for a touchdown. TyShawn Simon rushed for 43 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown.

Things went bad early for the Threshers and went worse from there. The Threshers went three-and-out on its first possession. The punt was blocked and recovered by McPherson in the end zone. On Bethel’s next play, the ball was pulled out of Simon’s hand. The Thresher defense held and Jack Reid hit a 30-yard field goal.

A pair of punts led to a pair of short-field drives for the Bulldogs. Crouch hit a 14-yard pass to Jackson Goodmiller for a touchdown and Armond McCray scored on a nine-yard run.

Bethel finally forced a punt early second quarter, but fumbled it back deep in Thresher territory, setting up a six-yard Crouch touchown run.

A long Bethel punt, followed by a short McPherson punt set up a five-play, 40-yard drive for the Threshers, ending on a seven-yard Esau run. A McPherson turnover led to a short-field Bethel drive, aided by a fourth-down pass interference call. Simon scored on a two-yard run.

After trading punts to open the second half, McPherson drove from its own 46 to the Bethel 4, where Reid hit a 22-yard field goal. The drive was extended with a pass interference penalty on fourth down. An interception set up a 31-yard Crouch touchdown run with 29.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

After Bethel gave up the ball on downs in its own territory, McPherson scored on a 16-yard pass from Crouch to Eman McNeal with 7:57 to play.

Bethel struggled with center-to-quarterback exchanges in its final two series, but managed to hold on to the ball.

“We had some momentum at the end of the first half, but we failed to carry it into the second half,” Lolar said. “… The frustrating thing is this is not what we practice. We’re telling the kids they can have some success if they do what we tell them. Instead, they are doing their own thing. Maybe it’s just the guys we’re bringing in.”

Bethel plays at Ottawa at 1 p.m. Saturday. Ottawa is 1-4, 1-2 in KCAC play, after a 30-21 loss to Bethany.

“It’s going to be a tough game at Ottawa,” Lolar said. “They are going to try and hit us in the mouth. We have a lot of things to fix, but they are fixable. We just have to get better.”

Bethel;0;14;0;0;—14

McPherson;24;7;10;7;—48

Scoring

1q. M Gagiano recovered block punt in end zone (Reid kick) 13:32

1q. M Reid 30-yd. field goal 13:12

1q. M Goodmiller 14-yd. pass from Crouch (Reid kick) 7:44

1q. M McCray 9-yd. run (Reid kick) 3:40

2q. M Crouch 6-yd. run (Reid kick) 11:54

2q. B Esau 7-yd. run (Mathis kick) 5:51

2q. B Simon 2-yd. run (Mathis kick) 1:08

3q. M Reid 22-yd. field goal 5:02

3q. M Crouch 31-yd. run (Reid kick) :29.2

4q. M McNeal 16-yd. pass from Crouch (Reid kick) 7:57

Team stats

;BC;MC

First downs;11;18

Rushing-yards;38-65;52-242

Passing yards;85;76

Comp-att-int;10-25-2;7-21-0

Punts-avg.;7-34.1;4-37.0

Fumbles-lost;5-2;1-1

Penalties-yards;8-59;10-96

Time of poss.;31:45;28:15

Individual stats

RUSHING — Bethel: Simon 17-44, Smith 6-25, Phorn 1-11, Pickens 2-2, DuBose 1-2, Rhiner 1-2, Burnley 1-0, Webb 4-(-3), Team 1-(-7), Esau 4-(-11). McPherson: Davis 28-113, Crouch 13-103, McCray 7-23, Lakso 3-7, Tiernan 1-(-4).

PASSING — Bethel: Esau 9-19-2, 83 yards; Webb 1-6-0, 2 yards. McPherson: Crouch 7-21-0, 76 yards.

RECEIVING — Bethel: Hill 4-54, Jolivet 4-17, DuBose 2-14. McPherson: Goodmiller 3-38, McNeal 2-27, Davis 1-7, Nash 1-4.

Missed field goals — none.