Close

Bethel Football Advances to West Region Final

After a slow start, the Bethel football team fought back to beat North Central College 27-24. The Royals will play Saturday in the NCAA West Region Championship Game.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

November 26, 2018 | 2 p.m.

Bethel’s Jon Pytlak ’20 turns downfield after catching what would end as a 72-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Royals 27-24 win against North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, on November 24.

Bethel’s Jon Pytlak ’20 turns downfield after catching what would end as a 72-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Royals 27-24 win against North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, on November 24.

The Bethel University football team is giving its fans an early holiday season treat.

The Royals (11-1) beat No. 9-ranked North Central College 27-24 on Saturday, November 24, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs in Naperville, Illinois. With the win, the Royals advance to the NCAA West Region Championship Game for the fourth time in 12 years.

After Bethel dominated in the first playoff rounds with its run attack, the Cardinals (10-2) held the Royals to only 39 rushing yards in the first half. Bethel trailed 7-0 in the second quarter when quarterback Jaran Roste ’20 connected on a 72-yard touchdown pass to Jon Pytlak ’19 to tie the game. The Cardinals kicked a field goal late in the quarter to lead 10-7 at halftime, but the Royals opened the third quarter with a 77-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Roste to John Carlson ’20.

The scoring opened up in the fourth quarter, with Bethel jumping to a 20-10 lead after a 14-play, 94-yard drive ended with a Roste touchdown run—but a blocked extra point. The Cardinals’ explosive offense, led by quarterback and Gagliardi Award semifinalist Brock Rutter, scored to make it 20-17. But on the Royals’ next drive, Roste threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Drew Larsen ’20 to pull ahead 27-17. However, the Cardinals answered with another touchdown on their ensuing drive, making the score 27-24.

With just over four minutes remaining, the Cardinals tried an onside kick, but the Royals recovered. The Royals ran 1:48 off the clock and punted with 2:23 remaining. However, Bethel’s defense sacked Rutter for the sixth time in the game and then forced an incompletion on fourth down. Bethel took over and took three knees to run out the clock.

Bethel’s defense pressured Rutter throughout the game to slow the Cardinals’ explosive air attack. While Rutter had completed 75% of his passes on the season, he completed only 12 of 27 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown—while fumbling twice—against Bethel’s defense. After the Cardinals ran for 93 yards in the first half, the Royals held them to only 11 in the second half. Meanwhile, Roste completed 15 of 20 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Bethel’s running game came alive with 145 yards in the second half.

The Royals advance to play the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater at noon on Saturday, December 1, in Whitewater, Wisconsin. The Royals, seeking their third regional championship, will face a tough task against the No. 5-ranked Warhawks (12-0), who are riding an 18-game winning streak and have won six national championships since 2007.

Check for updates online and on Twitter for pending information about fan buses to Whitewater on Saturday.

Publications

Bethel Magazine

Read the current issue.