The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference’s two remaining unbeaten teams are scheduled to meet this week as 4-0 Southwestern faces 6-0 Bethel at 5 p.m. Saturday at Thresher Stadium.
Bethel, ranked 24th in the NAIA pre-season poll, is coming off a 38-0 win over Bethany last week on the road. The win was Bethel’s first shutout since 2017 and the first under coach Terry Harrison.
Southwestern last played Oct. 24, beating Saint Mary 59-3.
"We had a good week of practice. We’re looking forward to a pretty big game Saturday," Harrison said. "Our defense has played really well at times. In recent games, we’ve allowed some of our younger guys to play, which has given us some rest, but we’ve given up some scores. Last week, the defense had a dominant game. They played really well. Bethany was trying to run the clock out, which limited our possessions. Anytime you can get a win in a college football game with a shutout, that’s pretty impressive."
Bethel is looking to avenge a 28-24 loss to the Moundbuilders from last season, getting outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter. The loss was one of two that kept the Threshers out of the post-season.
"Last year, we fumbled three or four times in the fourth quarter," Harrison said. "If we have that opportunity, we can’t put the ball on the ground or give it back to them. That would be our main focus. We played well at times against them. We were just inconsistent. We need to give them our best effort."
Southwestern is led by quarterback Brad Cagle, who has hit 44 of 67 passes for 913 yards with 13 touchdowns and an interception. Cagle also has 170 rushing yards with a touchdown. Running back Keyshawn Wyatt has 75 carries for 489 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Keyshawn Jones has 543 receiving yards on 24 catches with five touchdowns. Andre Jones has eight catches for 232 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Layke Hoffman has three receiving touchdowns.
Southwestern has 1,000 rushing yards and 1,033 passing yards as a team.
"They are a spread team, but they do have a very good running back (Wyatt)," Harrison said. "He was hurt last year when we played them. But he’s one of the better running backs in the conference. They have a senior transfer quarterback who’s done a good job."
Caleb Helsley leads the defense with 24 total tackles and four sacks. Travon Crockett has 19 total tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery. Markeese Jones has 18 total tackles.
"They are a lot like us," Harrison said. "They return a lot of good players from last year. They have a lot of veterans. They have a good coaching staff that’s been there a long time. The fact that they are 4-0 means they are a really good team. We’re going to have to play really well in a competitive game."
Bethel comes into the game leading the NAIA in rushing yards at 2,514. The Threshers have just 559 passing yards, but out of 41 passes thrown this season, 10 have been for a touchdown.
Chantz Scurry leads the BC rushing attack with 443 yards on 103 carries with seven touchdowns. Zach Esau has 399 rushing yards on 79 carries with nine touchdowns. Esau also has hit 21 of 37 passes for 519 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception. Camryn Harrison has 29 carries for 398 yards with five touchdowns. Brayden Francis leads the receivers with 10 catches for 262 yards and five touchdowns. Tanner Galliart has eight catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
Esau was rested in the second half last week, allowing backup Landon Barnes to rush for 131 yards and a touchdown.
"We started rotating some twos in," Terry Harrison said. "It was a great opportunity to get some reps for younger players. (Barnes) is a good player. If we have to go to our two quarterback, we’re in a pretty good spot. We’re deep all the way down to four."
Josh Seabolt leads the defense with 52 total tackles, 12.5 for a loss and seven sacks. Seabolt also has a fumble recovery. Dominic Brown has 43 total tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery. Trey Palmer has two interceptions with a touchdown.
"It should be a very competitive game," Harrison said. "It should be one of the most competitive games in the conference in years."