A mistake here, a missed opportunity there and the Bethel College football team misses another change at a win.
After posting a first-half shutout, the Threshers struggled with moving the ball in the second half, losing to the University of Saint Mary 21-10 Saturday night in KCAC play at Joe W. Goering Field on Fall Fest.
The loss sets the Threshers back to 0-6, 0-5 in KCAC play. The Spires improve to 3-4, 2-3 in conference play.
“Right now, we’re just not a very good football team,” Bethel coach Morris Lolar said. “We’re taking baby steps forward. I’m sick and tired of that.”
USM’s Drew Cortez hit 20 of 33 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Tae Turner had four catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. The Bethel defense held the Spires to 94 yards rushing.
Bethel quarterback R.J. Rhiner led the game in rushing with 64 yards on eight carries, but hit just one of seven passes for four yards. Dominic Webb hit six of 14 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 27 yards with a touchdown.
“We need someone to step up at quarterback, complete some balls and do what we tell them,” Lolar said. “We’re telling them where to throw the ball, but they’re not throwing it. They want to run around. We have to find someone who can step up.”
The first half belonged to the defense. A Saint Mary touchdown was called back for illegal receiver downfield.
Bethel got into the red zone early in the second quarter, but a Brett Mathis 37-yard field goal attempt went wide right. Saint Mary then got into the red zone, but Tawon Green stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. Keondre Churchwell picked off a pass inside Bethel territory.
Bethel mounted a 58-yard drive that ended on the USM 8 with 2.5 seconds left in the half. Mathis then nailed a 25-yard field goal to put the Threshers up at the half.
The Spires were stopped on downs inside Bethel territory to open the second half, but Bethel couldn’t take advantage. The Spires then went 80 yards in 12 plays, converting on four third-down plays, including a Bethel pass interference penalty. The Spires scored on a 24-yard pass from Cortez to Turner. Bethel went three and out. Mathis had to kick a bad punt snap out of the end zone. Bethel was called for illegal kicking and the Spires were given the ball on the one. After three stops by the Bethel defense, Cortez hit Turner on fourth down for a touchdown.
Bethel needed just six plays to respond. A 60-yard pass from Webb to Gary Jolivet set up a six-yard touchdown run for Webb.
A 40-yard kickoff return sparked a 52-yard, seven-play drive that ended on a two-yard Eric Pichardo run. The Spires converted on a fourth-and-four play to keep the drive going.
Bethel made a defensive stop late in the game, but a bad snap killed the following drive.
Bethel hosts 20th-ranked (NAIA) Sterling at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Warriors are in a four-way tie for first in the conference after a 30-28 loss to Bethany.
“People didn’t want to hear me at the beginning of the season, but there is a lot of parity in the conference,” Lolar said. “They are going to try and roll in here. We’re going to try and stop them. We’re getting a little better, but we need to pick it up and get a lot better.”
2q. B Mathis 25-yd. field goal :00
3q. SM Turner 24-yd. pass from Cortez (Garcia kick) 4:03
3q. SM Turner 3-yd. pass from Cortez (Garcia kick) :12.8
4q. B Webb 6-yd. run (Mathis kick) 13:12
4q. SM Pichardo 1-yd. run (Garcia kick) 9:33
Time of poss.;31:49;25:44
RUSHING — Saint Mary: Estenbaum 8-59, Pichardo 12-23, Cortez 9-17, Hilliard 3-2, Garcia 1-1, Morales 1-(-1), team 2-(-1), Hughes 2-(-2), Piscitelli 1-(-4). Bethel: Rhiner 8-64, Simon 7-18, Webb 12-17, Jolivet 2-10,, Pickens 1-9, Burnley 1-6, DuBose 1-5, Phorn 2-2.
PASSING — Saint Mary: Cortez 20-33-1, 195 yards. Bethel: Webb 6-14-0, 117 yards; Rhiner 1-7-0, 4 yards.
RECEIVING — Saint Mary: Richert 5-50, Turner 4-57, Dougherty 4-41, Piscitelli 3-23, Barnhart 1-14, Hilliard 1-6, Barnett 1-5, Estenbaum 1-(-1). Bethel: Hill 3-39, DuBose 2-11, Jolivet 1-55, Harrison 1-16.
Missed field goals — BC: Mathis 37 (WR).