|BC Wildcats maul Cumberland |
|The Bethel Wildcats extended their current winning streak to six games with a 54-15 homecoming victory over the Cumberland University Bulldogs from Lebanon, Tenn., on Saturday night in McKenzie. More importantly, the Wildcats are 5-0 in the Mid-South Conference and 2-0 in the West Division. Bethel’s passing game and defense proved to be the difference in the contest as the Wildcats accumulated 503 yards of total offense, 300 through the air, while limiting CU to 235 total yards. |
Bethel’s defense got off to a fast start by holding Cumberland to a three-and-out, but Joevaris Carter fumbled on the Wildcats’ second play to turn the ball over.
The Bulldogs took over at the Bethel 34-yard line but were only be able to gaintwo yards on four plays turning the ball over on downs.
That’s when the game would turn for good. Bethel scored its first points on the night on a four-play, 68-yard drive as Adrain Smith took it in from six yards out. The touchdown was set up by a 42-yard pass from Ronnie Jankovich to Julian Tyler. Matt Wininger, in his new role as place-kicker, tacked on the first of seven PATs on the night for a 7-0 lead.
Bethel’s defense continued to play well and Justin Cobb jumped on a Bulldog fumble. Bethel’s drive fizzled on the Cumberland 26 and Wininger was called on to kick a 43-yard field goal which he nailed for a 10-0 lead. The Cats defense held for another three-and-out as the first quarter came to an end.
Bethel’s offense was on the march in the second quarter as Jankovich found Antonio Brown, Sr. on a crossing route to the Bulldogs’ 17-yard line. Three plays later, senior Terrance Bell found the end zone from 6 yards out and, with the PAT, Bethel led 17-0.
CU’s Steven Henry fumbled the kickoff and Bethel’s Rashad Daniels recovered on the Bulldog 29-yard line. Then the Wildcats pulled a little razzle dazzle as Ricky Currie took the handoff, sprinted to the left, stopped and threw a touchdown pass to Julian Tyler on their first play and Bethel led 24-0. The teams exchanged two possessions before halftime without any more scoring.
Bethel continued to confuse the Bulldogs’ defense as the second half began. After a 31-yard kickoff return by Justin Woodard, All-American tailback Adrian Smith faked another run and showed he could throw the ball also as he connected with Carter for a 45-yard aerial to the CU 4-yard line. Then, Smith did it with his legs, scoring from the four and Bethel led 31-0.
Without allowing CU a single yard on its first offensive possession in the second half, the Cat offense took over and continued right where they left off in the first half. Bell broke through the line for a 28-yard gain to the CU 35. After getting to the 17-yard line, Jankovich hit Carter for the touchdown and Bethel was cruising 38-0 with 8:56 left in the third.
Cumberland responded on its next possession, driving 10 plays and 67 yards, as Dexter Elston scored from the six. The PAT failed and Bethel led 38-6.
Bethel was held on its next possession, but the defense came up with another turnover, setting the offense up on the Bulldog 47 as the third quarter came to a close.
As the fourth quarter began, Jankovich hit senior tight end Buck Reed for a 21-yard touchdown strike. Cumberland blocked the extra point attempt and Melvin Armstrong scooped up the loose ball and ran it in for two points, making the score 44-8.
Cumberland received the kickoff and used five plays to go 59 yards to make the score 44-15.
Bethel struck quickly as Justin Woodard returned the kickoff 41 yards to the CU 44. Smith required only one play to cover the 44 yards for his third touchdown of the night as Bethel led 51-15.
Bethel’s next offensive drive stalled and Matt Wininger booted his second field goal of the night from 40 yards out as Bethel won the game 54-15.
Defensively, Chancey DePriest led the Wildcats with nine tackles. He was followed by freshman Marshall Varnum, making his first career start, with eight tackles, including one for a loss of nine yards. Linebackers Dustin Finch and Markee Robinson each had six stops. Cliff Barna and Mitchell Maynard both had five tackles and Wade Vandergriff had four.
Offensively, Jankovich was 17-of-22 passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler led the receiving corps with five catches for 102 yards and one touchdown. Carter had four catches for 41 yards and a TD, Bell had three for 30 yards and Daniels caught two for 51 yards. Smith led all rushers with 86 yards on 10 carries and three TDs. Bell had 63 yards on 10 carries and one TD, and Woodard run four times for 21 yards.
The fourth-ranked Wildcats have won their last six games and are 7-1 (5-0, 2-0) on the season.
Bethel will have a short week as it will be on the road this Thursday, Oct. 25 in Rome, Ga., to play the Shorter College Hawks. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The game can also be heard on the Internet by going to www.bethelathletics.com and following the instructions.