Bethel defeats St. Olaf to take the MIAC Conference Championship

November 11, 2013 | 10:16 p.m.

Sports | Jared Nelson

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Wide receiver Mitch Hallstrom caught seven passes with two touchdowns in Saturday's 47-0 shutout against the St. Olaf Oles. | Photo for The Clarion by Drea Chalmers

Bethel University clinched the MIAC title with a 47-0 win over the St. Olaf Oles on Saturday at Royal Stadium. With the win, the Royals improve their record to 9-0 (7-0 MIAC) heading into the regular season finale next week at St. John’s.

The Royals dominated the time of possession and controlled the pace all afternoon thanks to the hard work of the Royal offensive line and senior running back Brandon Marquardt. Marquardt ran behind the line 16 times and totaled 128 yards on the ground, finding the endzone three times. Sophomore Marshall Klitzke added 37 yards on 10 carries.

Junior quarterback Erik Peterson was efficient through the air again this week, going 14 of 26 for 266 yards and two touchdowns. While seven different receivers caught passes for the Royals, Peterson’s favorite target was senior Mitch Hallstrom, as has been the case for the majority of the season. Hallstrom caught seven balls for 179 yards and both of Peterson’s touchdowns.

All in all, the Royals recorded 507 total yards of offense, and it wasn’t until the final drive of the game that Bethel had a play that went for negative yardage.

The Bethel defense was able to intercept Ole quarterback Nate Penz three times during the game. Sophomore safety Daniel Leidall was substituted into the game for a dime package and picked off the pass on St. Olaf’s second drive. Senior linebacker Seth Mathis corralled the tipped pass with five minutes left in the second quarter and returned it 28 yards for the score. Matt Mehlhorn recorded his second interception of the season as the Oles advanced deep into Royal territory in the second half.

The frontline was led by senior defensive end Luke Buttenhoff, who racked up six tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss of nine yards. Sophomore Jesse Mockley got the brunt of the reps at outside linebacker in replacement of Phil Peterson and Ben Wahlquist and played extremely well, leading the defense with 11 tackles.

After the game, Bethel celebrated their first conference title since 2007 and will look to complete their undefeated regular season next weekend in Collegeville as they take on the Johnnies of St. John’s. Bethel has only had one other undefeated regular season in its history, in 2000. This was the first year that the Royals competed in postseason play.  Kickoff next weekend is at 1 p.m.

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