Bethel Opens MIAC Play With 27-9 Victory Over Carleton

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Arden Hills, Minn. - Bethel stepped onto the turf at Royal Stadium Saturday as significant favorites over Carleton College, but the Knights came to play and did not go quietly. The Royals have defended their home soil proudly, not giving up a win at home in nearly two years. Bethel added to that streak today, winning by a final of 27-9.

The Knights got on the board first on a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Hartwell to wide receiver Chase Gottshalk, only taking 2:33 off the clock. The Royals were able to get things rolling as they made it a 7-7 game early in the second quarter, scoring on 3-yard quarterback keeper by Josh Aakre (Sr. Dawson, Minn.).

Late in the second quarter with the game still tied the Royals failed to field a punt giving possession to the Knights inside the Bethel 20-yard line. With the Knights threatening to take the lead once again, the Royals defense came up big when senior linebacker Billy Morgan (Rosemount, Minn.) snagged his first career interception off a tipped pass in the end zone. "It felt pretty good to finally get an interception and to see the emotion that everyone had." said Morgan. The play energized the crowd, and proved to be a significant swing in the momentum as they entered the second half.

In the third quarter the Royals came out invigorated and went to work quickly. With just over ten minutes to go in the quarter Aakre connected with Alex Wright (Sr., Minnetonka, Minn.) for a 26-yard touchdown. The score gave the Royals their first lead of the game 14-7.

Going into the fourth quarter the Royals size began to wear down the Knights defense. Aakre found the end zone again on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Royals a 20-7 lead. The ensuing Matt Wetherell (Sr., Glen Ellyn, Ill.) extra point attempt was blocked and returned Carleton's Justin Rotman for two points to slice the Royals lead to 20-9. The Knights made things interesting but in the end the Royals running game was too strong. Freshman running back Brandon Marquardt (Chaplin, Minn.) found the end zone on a 13-yard run with just under four minutes left of the clock to end any hopes at a comeback by the Knights.

The Royals finished Saturday's contest with 244 yards rushing on 49 carries. Aakre lead the Bethel ground game, compiling 96 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns. Marquardt added 71 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Jesse Phenow (So., Richfield, Minn.) finished with 82 yards on 13 carries for the Royals.

The second half was key for the Royals as they ratcheted down the defense to hold the Knights to just 76 yards of total offense and zero points. Morgan complied 13 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, one sack, and one interception. Outside linebacker Eric Smith (Jr., Henning, Minn.) had 5 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, and one sack. Gavin Maurer (Jr., Morgan, Minn.) wreaked havoc in the Knights backfield contributing two sacks.

The Royals will be off next weekend as they use their bye week to prepare for several difficult games that are on the schedule in the coming weeks. The Bethel football squad will be back in action on October 1st for their homecoming matchup vs. St. Olaf.

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