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Bethel breaks out of losing funk with defense forcing six turnovers

Bethel breaks out of losing funk with defense forcing six turnovers
Bethel breaks out of losing funk with defense forcing six turnovers | Bethel College, Belhaven, McKenzie, Tennessee, Bethel Wildcats football

Touchdown — Bethel’s Blake Bragg hauls in a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chad Lamping in a win over Belhaven on Saturday. This was the first touchdown for Bragg at Bethel. He later added a 49-yard highlight catch for a touchdown.
MCKENZIE, Tenn. — After the Bethel Wildcats started the season 0-3, they were in need of a win and some confidence. They got both in their 31-21 victory over the visiting Blazers of Belhaven College Saturday. The Wildcat defense set the tone early and created six turnovers, while the offense showed signs of promise.
The defense gave the home crowd a chance to cheer early as Wade Vandergriff picked off an Andrew Carcich pass on the Blazers’ first play and returned it 11 yards for the score. Sean Fraser booted the PAT and the Wildcats took an early lead 7-0.
Belhaven responded on its third possession. Facing third-and-four, Carcich couldn’t find an open receiver and called his own number for a 56-yard gain. Two plays later and Carcich hit Kyle Henry for the Blazers’ first score; the PAT was good and the game was tied at 7-7 with 6:37 left in the first.
The Wildcats hit right back on their following possession as Justin Woodard plunged in from the 3-yard line for a 14-7 lead with 1:33 remaining in the first quarter.
Bethel got on the board again on its first possession of the second quarter. Fraser, a former Bethel soccer player, booted his second career field goal from 32 yards out and Bethel held a 17-7 advantage. Belhaven’s next possession was cut short as Antonio Wardlow recovered a Blazer fumble. Bethel had good field position but couldn’t capitalize.
Two possessions later and Donald Lightfoot picked off the first of two passes on the evening. That set up the Wildcats at the Blazers’ 22-yard line. Five plays later and quarterback Chad Lamping hit Blake Bragg in stride for a 17-yard touchdown. It was Bragg’s first career touchdown for Bethel. On the final possession of the first half, Carcich was again picked off by Lightfoot.
After a defensive hold to start the third quarter, the Wildcats needed only three plays to get on the board. The Lamping-to-Bragg combination worked again, this time for 49 yards. Bethel held a 31-7 advantage.
Johnathan Deberry intercepted Carcich for the fourth time in the game. It was Deberry’s second interception of the season.
The Wildcats’ offense was unable to generate anything and the Blazers did not go away quietly. Belhaven’s backup quarterback Jerred Wallace threw two touchdowns in the third frame, one for 52 and the other for 17 yards. Those scores pulled the Blazers to within 10.
With the Blazers facing fourth down at the start of the fourth quarter, Wardlow recovered his second fumble of the game giving the Wildcats the ball at their own 49-yard line.
Once again, the Wildcat’s offense sputtered as Lamping threw an interception at the Belhaven 14-yard line.
Then the Wildcats’ defense did its part by holding the Blazers on their next three offensive possessions to seal the win.
Defensively, the Wildcats forced six turnovers. Dominique Davis led the way with seven unassisted tackles. Chancey DePriest had six stops, a sack and a tackle for loss. Vandergriff had six stops to go with his interception for a touchdown. Coming back from an injury, Sean McCormick had five unassisted stops. Lightfoot’s two interceptions leave him three short of the Bethel career record.
Offensively, Justin Woodard went over the century mark in rushing for the third time this year posting 106 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Fullback Steve Jarrett carried five times for 46 yards.
Lamping was 12-of-26 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked five times by the Belhaven defense. Bragg had two catches, both for touchdowns and a total of 66 yards. Desmond Newbold had three grabs for 43 yards. John Graham had two grabs for a total 40 yards on the night including a key catch on third down. Fraser was perfect on four PATs and kicked a 32-yard field goal.
The Wildcats will remain in conference division play as they play the Bulldogs of Cumberland University on Saturday to at 1:30 p.m. in Lebanon, Tenn. Last season the Wildcats defeated the Bulldogs 54-15 in McKenzie.

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