Sun, Sep. 2, 2012
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The Salina Journal
WAXAHACHIE, TX—The past week has been anything but easy for the Bethany Swedes.
Faced with several suspensions for team violations, issues with NAIA eligibility and the loss of 2-time All-American running back Junior Allen, the Swedes were in dire straights beginning the week.
But as the week wore on and eligibility problems improved, Jamie Cruce and his staff were able to cobble together a solid group of 53 players and opened the new season with a 13-12 win over Southwest Assemblies of God at Lumpkins Stadium.
This one would be close from start to finish, but in the end Bethany's discipline proved to be a major factor as they were flagged once for 15 yards compared to a critical 70 yards on 12 Lion hankies.
"I think everybody has adversity," Cruce said, "and we told the guys this week that we hade a good fall camp, that's a good start, but it doesn't matter how you start—it's how you finish.
"The penalties were something we were concerned about early in the year—how would we be with our shotgun snap and I thought we did an exceptional job."
While SAGU's defense was able to disrupt the 24th ranked Swedes offense, Bethany's defense did yeoman duty throughout, bending, but never breaking limiting the Lions to a quartet of James Gish field goals.
Two of those boots were set up by passes of 55 yards and 46 yards from quarterback Reid Golson, but in the end, it was a pair of passes from Darby House that slipped Bethany to the inside rail for good.
In the first quarter, House found Brandon Martino over the middle and the Junction City senior, a pre-season All-American choice, went high to snatch the aerial from a defender's hands and then Martino dragged him four yards to pay dirt.
Boston Draper, a baseball-soccer player who was drafted to do placements, converted the all important PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The two big strikes from Golson and a fumbled punt at the 14, led to three SAGU field goals as Gish would give his team a 12-7 lead with 10:19 left in the final stanza.
It was then that Nick Taylor's defense really stepped up its game.
Spearheaded by Steve Williams from his defensive end position, the Swedes made the rest of the game a nightmare for Golson and the rest of the Lions.
"The defense made big play after big play," Cruce said. "We turned the ball over a couple of times in the red zone and the defense bailed us out."
"I was just trying to do my job which is to get pressure," Williams said. "We've been practicing all fall to get pressure and I had a slow first half so in the fourth quarter I decided to turn it on to get a win for my team. Coach actually counted and gave me four (sacks) today."
With Williams and his mate slamming the door shut on SAGU late, the Bethany offense finally got a break when a 23 yard punt gave the Swedes the ball at the Lion 35 with 5:36 left.
On third and eight, House called for an out and up to Dre Thompson and it was a perfect call.
"I'd been waiting on it all game," House said. "I saw the corner was biting on the hitch, so I just threw the double move on him. Dre was wide open out there, he really made it easy for me."
House pumped once to Thompson on the out, but Thompson has already turned up field and was three yards into the clear at the 15. It was a perfect strike and Thompson glided into the endzone for the winning TD with 4:48 showing on the clock.
"Technically, I was going to get him because they were jumping the stop route all game so all we needed was the slight hesitation and I knew Darby was going to give me a good ball."
Still, SAGU had another chance, but the Swede defense held the Lions to a minus one before forcing a punt and with the aid of the 12th SAGU penalty, Bethany ran out the final 3:08.
Bethany will open KCAC play against McPherson next Saturday night.