Bethel football routs Wartburg College in season opener

September 15, 2013 | 2:30 p.m.

430 total yards of offense and three interceptions put Bethel on top

Sports | Tyler Schmidt for The Clarion

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Senior running back Brandon Marquardt led the rushing with 109 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. | Photo by Drea Chalmers

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – Although the season opener for the No. 8 ranked Bethel Royals got off to a slow start, the team eventually found a groove, toppling the Wartburg Knights 30-17.

Wartburg entered the game coming off of a 58-7 victory over MacMurray College but were stifled by the Royal’s experienced offense and ruthless defense.

On Bethel’s first possession of the season, quarterback Erik Peterson and the rest of the Bethel offense drove down the field in 18 plays to set up Nathaniel Van Loon for a 23-yard field goal attempt. Bethel’s first scoring attempt was foiled, however, as the kick was blocked resulting in a touchback and loss of possession.

 The Royals quickly bounced back on the defensive end as senior cornerback Josh Treimer intercepted Wartburg quarterback Logan Schrader at the Bethel 41-yard line. This put the Royals in excellent field position. Bethel scored their first points of the 2013 season 11 plays and 46 yards later off of a 29-yard Van Loon field goal.

 The field goal served as a springboard for the rest of Bethel’s offense. Two possessions later, the Royals used a combination of methodical running and a 20-yard pass to Jared Schultz to set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Senior Brandon Marquardt. After a failed extra point attempt, the Bethel Royals led 9-0.  

 On the subsequent Wartburg possession, quarterback Taylor Jacobsmeier dropped backed to pass on third down. After being forced out of the pocket, Jacobsmeier  threw a pass down the right side of the field, slightly behind his receiver, and cornerback Josh Treimer leapt up for his second interception of the game. With blockers in front of him, Treimer returned the interception to the end zone for a pick-six.

He didn’t stop there. With 1:30 remaining in the first half and the Knights charging toward Bethel’s end zone, Treimer again leapt in front of the Wartburg receiver, pulling in his third and final interception of the game –an uncommon feat at any level of football. The Royals entered half time with a 16-0 lead and the momentum on their side.

 To start the second half, the Royal’s defense continued to stifle the Wartburg offense with their combination of pass rushing and run defense. These defensive stops allowed the offense to get back on the field and take care of business. On Bethel’s first possession of the second half, senior running back Jesse Phenow punched it into the end zone for a one yard score, capping off an 11-play, 71-yard drive.

 Bethel’s defense forced yet another Wartburg punt early in the third quarter. Starting on the Royals own 31-yard line, Marquardt rushed for a 7-yard gain on first down. After an incomplete pass to Mitch Hallstrom on second down, the Royals broke it open for a 51-yard strike to Jared Schultz down the sideline. That set up an eventual 11-yard touchdown run for Brandon Marquardt, his second of the day.

After a successful extra point the score stood at 30-0, and Bethel never looked back from there. Although Wartburg managed to score a couple of touchdowns and a field goal later in the second half, it wasn’t enough, as the Royals took their season opener 30-17.

The Royals amassed 430 yards of total offense as well as converting 8 of 15 third downs. The defense was equally impressive with its three takeaways and five sacks.

The Royals next stop is Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, where they will take on the Beavers at 1 p.m.

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