The Bethel College football team again had the running game going against the McPherson Bulldogs, claiming a 41-32 win Saturday in KCAC play at Thresher Stadium.
Bethel had three backs claim 100-yard games, possibly a first for the team. It was the first 3-0 start for the Threshers since 2007.
Bethel was led by Chantz Scurry with 24 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown. Zach Esau had 20 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Esau also passed for 30 yards and a score. Freshman Mason Murray rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Bethel finished with 426 yards rushing, giving the Threshers more than 900 rushing yards over McPherson in the last two seasons.
“I don’t know, I wasn’t keeping count,” Scurry said. “But it was awesome. The triple option, you have to account for everybody. If someone messes up, you take advantage of it. That’s the beauty of it. Everybody gets a chance to carry the ball and we make the most of what we get.”
“We we’ve been working hard in practice,” Murray said. “Today, we just had numbers. We had the play calls to go with the numbers. We got the blocking. We let up off the gas pedal. We’ll fix that next week. (The start) is awesome. We didn’t play as well as we could have, but this is a great start to the season. We’ll work hard for next week. Practice is fun and everybody’s having fun.”
From Sour Lake, Texas, Murray is a transfer from NCAA Division II Southern Nazarene, where he was a red shirt last season.
“I had a coach from my previous school helped me transfer up here,” Murray said. “It was the best decision of my life.”
McPherson was led by Ed Crouch, who hit 15 of 34 passes for 257 yards with an interception and two touchdowns. Crouch also rushed for 43 yards.
Bethel nearly fumbled away the opening kickoff, but it was ruled out of bounds, allowing the Threshers to keep the ball and mount a drive that ended on a four-yard Murray run. Bethel tried to fake the kick on the point-after with the pass incomplete.
McPherson drove the ball to the Bethel 6, where Cole Schroeder hit a 24-yard field goal.
Bethel was stopped on its next drive, but a Landon Barnes interception set up a 46-yard Esau run. After a face mask penalty against McPherson on Bethel’s first two-point conversion attempt, Esau ran the ball in the second time.
After trading turnovers, McPherson attempted to convert on a fourth-down and short deep in Bethel territory. The play lost yardage. On the following play. Chantz Scurry ran the ball in from 26 yards with 56 seconds left in the half.
Bethel almost got the ball back before the end of the half, but time ran out after a McPherson punt.
After trading punts early in the third quarter, McPherson’s Brett Sykes returned the punt 65 yards for the touchdown. The extra-point kick went off the upright and bounced back to the field.
On the next play, Murray ran the ball 71 yards to the McPherson 1, setting up an Esau touchdown. McPherson replied in one play on a 75-yard pass from Crouch to Tevin Nash.
Bethel recovered the onside kick, setting up a 31-yard touchdown pass from Esau to Brayden Francis. McPherson came back with a long drive that ended on a one-yard LeMeshio Hill run. Crouch hit a pass to Tanner Williams for the two-point conversion.
Bethel came back with a 6:30, 10-play drive, ending on a five-yard Murray run. The PAT kick missed.
The Thresher defense made a stop, but fumbled the punt back to the Bulldogs at the Bethel 19. Crouch hit a pass to Williams for the score. Crouch passed to Terrius Scroggins for the two-point conversion.
Bethel again recovered the onside kick, but fumbled it at the McPherson 35 with 2:35 in regulation. McPherson got to the Bethel 21, but Crouch was sacked on the Bethel 30 with 40 seconds to play. A sack by Cashon Cook on fourth down gave Bethel the ball with 35 seconds to play.
“We were prepared,” Scurry said. “We’ve talked about it from day one that every game is going to be a dogfight.”
Bethel returns home at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against 3-0 Sterling, which held off Ottawa 37-29.
1q. B Murray 4-yd. run (pass failed) 10:17
1q. M Schroeder 24-yd. field goal 6:15
1q. B Esau 46-yd. run (Esau run) 1:34
2q. B Scurry 26-yd. run (Francis kick) :56
3q. M Sykes 65-yd. punt return (kick failed) 7:04
3q. B Esau 1-yd. run (Demond kick) 5:46
3q. M Nash 75-yd. pass from Crouch (Schroeder kick) 5:22
3q. B Francis 31-yd. pass from Esau (Demond kick) 2:32
4q. M Hill 1-yd. run (Williams from Crouch) 14:30
4q. B Murray 5-yd. run (kick failed) 8:00
4q. M Williams 17-yd. pass from Crouch (Scroggins pass from Crouch) 6:25
Time of poss.;19:31;37:30
RUSHING — McPherson: Crouch 16-43, Hill 6-34, Davis 4-12, Brown 1-(-3), Santini 1-(-6). Bethel: .
PASSING — McPherson: Crouch 15-34-1, 257 yards. Bethel: Esau 2-5-0, 30 yards.
RECEIVING — McPherson: Nikke; 3-96, Nikkel 2-54, McNeal 3-39, Sykes 1-32, Williams 1-17, Davis 2-10, Ross 1-8, Bodie Jr. 1-4, Hill 1-(-3). Bethel: Francis 2-30.
Missed field goals — none.