Story and photo courtesy of Bethel Athletics
WAVERLY, Iowa – The 2012 football season opened with a defensive battle, as the Royals took advantage of decisive turnovers that led to a 21-0 victory over the hosting Knights of Wartburg College.
Saturday's contest was anything but a blowout, nor was it a scoring parade, as neither team composed a point in the opening quarter. The Royals began the day with five straight drives that resulted in a punt and none of them went longer than six plays. Wartburg started the game with a similar result, as the Knights not only missed a 41-yard field goal attempt, but were intercepted deep in Bethel's territory, and stripped near its own 20-yard line.
The interception was credited to Seth Mathis (Jr., Anoka, Minn.), who picked off the Knight quarterback, Logan Schrader, at the Bethel 16-yard line with 10:50 to play in the second quarter. After a quick possession by the Royals and a sensational punt by Phil Peterson (Richfield, Minn.), Brett Skoog (Sr., Long Lake, Minn.) strip sacked Schrader, which gave the ball back to Bethel at the Wartburg nine-yard line.
“Both Mathis and Skoog came up big for us today,” said Head Coach Steve Johnson following Saturday's game. “We could tell from the beginning it was going to be a defensive grind and I was so proud of the toughness our guys showed,” continued Johnson.
In the very next play Brandon Marquardt (So., Champlin, Minn.) carried the ball into the end zone, giving the Royals the 7-0 advantage—a lead it kept throughout the remainder of the period.
Bethel went ahead by 14 after the opening drive of the third quarter. A 15-play, 71-yard drive was capped off by Derek Waldbillig (Sr., Farmington, Minn.), who scampered for an eight-yard score. Embedded within the drive was a 43-yard toss from quarterback Erik Peterson (Sr., Orono, Minn.) to receiver Mitch Hallstrom (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) that put the Royals at the Knight's 27-yard line.
“Peterson was incredible for us today,” noted coach Johnson. “He showed poise and leadership all day long, but especially in that drive – which was critical to the final result.”
The sophomore quarterback displayed his quickness on the ground as well, as Peterson danced for 49 yards along the near side line for the final BU score of the day.
Peterson finished the day completing 20 of 28 passes for a total of 214 yards in the air. He and Hallstrom connected 10 times, as Hallstrom recorded 109 yards receiving. Jay Hilbrands (Sr., Clara City, Minn.) and Jared Schultz (Jr., Fergus Falls, Minn.) each caught three passes as well.
The Royals defense held the Knights' offense to a combined 188 total yards. Seth Mathis led the Bethel squad with an interception and 12 tackles, including a sack. Gavin Mauer (Sr., Morgan, Minn.) had an extraordinary day as well, wrapping up seven tackles, including two tackles for loss and one sack. On the day, BU finished with nine tackles for loss and six sacks.
“Our entire team showed an amazing heart today by coming down to Waverly and battling against a team that is highly thought of,” says Coach Steve Johnson. “Our defense led the way, but our special teams and offense made it possible for the defense to shut down our opponent.”
Bethel returns home to face Buena Vista University next Saturday, September 15. The Royals will meet the Beavers, who are coming off a 38-14 loss to Concordia-Moorhead today.