Sun, Sep. 23, 2012
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LINDSBORG -- There have been a lot of close games, wild plays, harrowing finishes and memorable moments in the 100-game history of the Kansas Wesleyan and Bethany rivalry.
Few, though, will top Saturday's heart-stopping showdown at Anderson Stadium.
Terry Stecker, who had missed three earlier field goal attempts, calmly kicked a 35-yarder with 1:13 left and Wesleyan's defense bent once again but withstood a last-ditch Bethany drive in propelling the Coyotes to a 33-31 Kansas Conference victory in the 100th meeting between the two schools.
The victory makes No. 24 Wesleyan 3-0 in the KCAC, 3-1 overall. Bethany falls to 2-2, 1-2 in conference.
"Terry is one of those kickers who likes the pressure," said Wesleyan coach Dave Dallas, who got the 125th victory of his career. "He drilled it right down the middle, and I'm happy for Terry. He had some miscues on some things, but he made the play when he had to make the play."
Bethany, true to form, came right back and drove to the Wesleyan 26. But a motion penalty, two incomplete passes and a delay of game penalty left the Swedes with third down and long at the KWU 36 with 4.3 seconds left.
Quarterback Darby House, who had his best game of the season, threw a long pass into the end zone, but it was batted down as time expired, setting off a frenetic Coyote celebration.
"I didn't have the best day today, but I talked to my teammates, they helped me out, never doubted me like always," Stecker said. "Brady (Harwell's) snap was perfect, Seth (Myers') hold was perfect, the kick was perfect. I cleared my head and did what was best and put it through. It's a team win. That's all that matters."
"It's great, our kids just played very well," said Dallas, who improves to 8-9 against the Swedes. "We stayed the course and didn't get rattled. We kept our poise."
Wesleyan led 14-3 at halftime after the defenses dominated the first half. But the offenses took over the second half. Bethany rolled for 337 total yards the second half while Wesleyan had 370 yards.
Tailback Brett Giesen finally broke loose for Wesleyan, gaining 183 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown -- 143 yards the second half. Quarterback Trey Dallas was 15 of 28 for 223 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and wide receiver Zach McClain had four receptions for 119 yards and the two TD catches.
House was marvelous, throwing for 322 yards on 26 of 55 passing and two touchdowns. Brandon Martino caught 10 passes for 136 yards and Tevis Linnebur ran for 149 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns -- his second consecutive 100-yard outing after gaining 198 last week.
Wesleyan's defense entered the contest allowing 425 yards per game, but had limited the number of points allowed. That wasn't the case Saturday against a rejuvenated Bethany offense.
"It stinks to lose that game, but super proud of our effort," Bethany coach Jamie Cruce said. "Our guys came together and took the lead there at the end and our composure, for the most part, was spectacular. It was a great game. Hat's off to Kansas Wesleyan."
Wesleyan led 14-3 at halftime on Trey Dallas' touchdown passes to Joe Vela and McClain, but Bethany made it 14-10 on it opening drive of the second half on House's 13-yard pass to Martino.
Jalil Turner scored from the 5 to give KWU a 21-10 lead with 7:55 left but Bethany answered back on Linnebur's 4-yard TD run. Three plays later Giesen scored from the 3, capping a quick three-play, 64-yard drive -- the big play Giesen's 56-yard dash. A two-point conversion run failed but KWU led 27-16 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was a helter skelter offensive blur. Bethany scored first on Linnebur's 1-yard run and two-point conversion pass to Parks, making 27-24.
Back came Wesleyan on a 22-yard Stecker field goal that made it 30-24 after the Coyotes had driven to Bethany 4-yard line before stalling.
Bethany took the lead and electrified the huge crowd on House's 6-yard touchdown pass to Parks on fourth-and-goal. The PAT kick by Kevin Retchless gave the Swedes a brief 31-30 lead with 5:21 left.
The fun was just beginning, though.
Wesleyan answered with Stecker's game-winning 3-pointer, capping a 10-play drive -- Dallas' 26-yard pass to Myers the big play. Myers, a Salina Central product, had five catches for 43 yards on the night.
Bethany was far from finished, quickly driving down field on nine play before running out of time.
House showed the form he displayed last season in earning all-conference honors. He had been hampered this season by issues with the offensive line, which played much better Saturday.
"Other than a couple of times, it seemed like we protected (House) better," Cruce said. "We ended up getting dinged up again and lost a couple of guys late that hurt us. I think (House) played fairly well."
Wesleyan plays another pivotal KCAC game next Saturday when Friends comes to town. Friends is 2-0 in the conference after defeating McPherson 18-17 Saturday.
Bethany plays Avila (Mo.) in a nonconference game in Lindsborg next Saturday.