Bethel vs. No. 21 Faulkner
The Matchup: The Bethel University Wildcats return home Saturday for Homecoming to meet the No. 21 Faulkner University Eagles from Montgomery, Alabama. The game will be played at Wildcat Stadium with kick-off scheduled for 5 p.m. CST. Bethel was picked to finish first in the West Division in the Mid-South Conference Pre-season Coaches Poll while Faulkner was selected to finish sixth in the division. Bethel enters the contest 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Faulkner is 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the league. The contest could very well be a high scoring affair as Faulkner is the fifth highest scoring team (41.7) in the nation. Bethel is the 15th highest scoring team (35.1) in the country.
Game Coverage: The Farm, 100.9 (WEIO) will broadcast the game for Bethel with Dave McCulley and Matt Swinea with the call. The contest will also be available at www.thefarmradio.com. Pre-game coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. WLJT-TV will telecast the game on a delayed basis. Fans are encouraged to check local listings for the air times.
Last Meeting & Series: This will be the sixth meeting between the two programs with Bethel holding a 5-0 advantage in the series. They first met in 2007. Last year Bethel won in McKenzie 62-48 in a wild shootout. Bethel trailed at halftime 20-14 but outscored the Eagles 48-28 in the second half to win. Faulkner outgained the Wildcats 671-573 in total offensive yards but the Cats won behind the running of Nathaniel Brooks (162) and Cordarious Mann (120) who combined for 282 rushing yards. Bethel Quarterback Wil Masoud threw only 16 passes but completed 10 of those for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Bethel's Justin Hazelray caught five passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Faulkner quarterback Josh Hollingsworth attempted a whopping 68 passes with 44 completions for 522 yards and five touchdowns.
Bethel Last Week:Locked in a see-saw battle, a key special teams play proved to be the difference as visiting Bethel (Tenn.) escaped Burch/Nau Field with a 51-48 victory over Union on Saturday.
The loss drops the Bulldogs to 3-4 overall, while the Wildcats improve to 4-3.
Down 49-42 and facing fourth and 4 at the Bethel 10, Union lined up for a field goal but caught Bethel off guard as the Bulldogs faked the kick. Levi Wilson, who came into hold the ball for placekicker Alex Peebles, hit a wide open Dominique Jefferson in the end zone to make it a 49-48 game with 7:51 to play. But on the PAT, Bethel blocked the kick, and Jocquel Skinner scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 95 yards to the opposite goal line for two points, putting the Wildcats ahead 51-48.
Bethel appeared to be driving to eat up the clock on its next possession, but Travis Smith fumbled at the 50-yard line and Zach Eagler pounced on it, giving Union the ball with 5:50 play.
Union struggled to move the ball. Facing fourth and 5 at the Bethel 45, Leonard Dixon pounded the ball just past the 41 but came up inches short of the first down, turning the ball over on downs with 4:29 remaining.
With only one timeout, Union was unable to stop the clock as Bethel ate the clock up. The Wildcats moved the ball down to the Union 24 with 40 seconds left when Wil Masoud took a knee to secure the 51-48 Bethel win.
It's not surprising Union and Bethel tangled in such a wild affair. Two years ago, the teams combined to score 139 points and rack up over 1,500 yards in total offense as Union outran Bethel 84-55.
Bethel outgained Union 525-376 in total offense, but it was special teams that kept the Bulldogs in the game. Keondrick Daniels returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns to account for two of Union's five first-half scores. Daniels racked up 162 yards on four kickoff returns and 80 yards on two punt returns as he continually gave the Bulldogs
Daniels opened the scoring with a 79-yard punt return to make it 7-0 with 4:28 to go in the first. This was the first punt return for a touchdown by a Bulldog since Chris Thomas returned a 77-yarder for a score against Belhaven (Miss.) on Nov. 15, 2008.
Bethel answered with a six-play, 60-yard scoring drive. Travis Smith capped the Wildcat possession with an 8-yard touchdown run to even the score at 7-7 with 2:36 remaining in the second.
The Bulldogs responded with a four-play, 67-yard scoring drive of their own to reclaim the lead. Looking at third and 4 at the Bethel 39, Kenny Hughes busted through the line and sprinted to the end zone to give Union a 14-7 lead with 13:32 left in the half. Once again, the lead was short-lived as Bethel moved the ball 50 yards in five plays and needed only 1:25 to do so. Smith scored his second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run, tying the game at 14-14 with 12:07 on the clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, Daniels went back to work, returning it 83 yards for a touchdown. After the PAT, Union led 21-14 with 11:50 to go in the half.
Momentum appeared to be swinging Bethel's way as it scored the next two touchdowns. Wil Masoud hit Michael Newbern for an 8-yard scoring pass to tie the game before Jacob Fussell scored on a 1-yard plunge with 4:45 to go, giving Bethel its first lead at 28-21.
Union responded with a nice, sustained drive as it reeled off 12-yards to cover 67 yards. Cody Sapcut punctuated the drive with a 2-yard scoring run, to pull the Bulldogs even at 28-28 with 58 seconds remaining.
Special teams came into play again on the ensuing kickoff as Peebles kicked the ball high and short, catching Bethel off guard. Bert Brown recovered the kick, giving Union the ball on the Wildcat 38. Eight plays later, Mike Brinkley hit Jefferson for a 10-yard scoring pass with 13 seconds to go, putting Union up 35-28 at the half.
Bethel regained the lead as B.A. Davis scored on a 1-yard plunge and Masoud tossed his second touchdown pass of the day to Cole Delano to give the Wildcats a 42-35 edge heading into the fourth.
With 12:31 left in the fourth, Hughes scored his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard run as Union evened things at 42-all.
Starting its next drive in excellent field position, Bethel needed only six plays to cover 49 yards to retake the lead. Facing fourth and 1 at the Union 28, Smith took the pitch and swept outside and scampered 28 yards for the touchdown. After the PAT, the Wildcats lead 49-42 with 10:33 to play.
Set up by a 40-yard pass to Jefferson, Union had the ball first and 10 at the Wildcat 16. However, the drive stalled at the 10 when the field-goal unit came out. However, it was a rouse as Wilson hit Jefferson for a 10-yard scoring pass to make it a one-point game. Union looked to tie it with the PAT, but it was blocked and returned for two points, making the final 51-48 Bethel.
Both teams racked up at least 200 yards rushing. Bethel ran the ball 59 times for 254 yards. Smith led the way with 175 yards and three scores on 34 carries. His 34 carries tied Josh Boyd for most rushing attempts in a single game. Meanwhile, Union tallied 200 yards on 41 carries. Dixon rushed for 124 yards on 22 attempts for his first career 100-yard game. Hughes registered 76 yards and two touchdowns on nine attempts.
Passing-wise, Bethel threw for 271 yards with Masoud completing 16-of-33 passes for 250 yards and two scores. Union had 176 yards passing as Brinkley when 15-for-28 for 166 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson led the Bulldogs with seven catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Joey Dienye led Bethel with 12 total stops.
Faulkner Last Week: Faulkner used a 21 point third quarter -all coming from touchdown passes by quarterback Josh Hollingsworth to break open a tight game and blow by then ranked # 16 Cumberland University 42-14 Saturday. Hollingsworth was 23-of -39 with 246 yards and four touchdowns in the air for the Eagles who took over sole possession of first place of the Mid-South Conference West Division with a mark of 3-0. The Eagle defense was huge in the second half shutting out Cumberland's offense. TheEagle defense was led by Paramore Tapa who was named the NAIA Defensive Player of the Week. He had 11 total tackles in the win over Cumberland University.
TALE OF TAPE
Rushing Yds/G Allowed............167.6
Passing Yds/G Allowed.............173.3
Total Offense/G Allowed...........340.9
Rushing Yds/G Allowed............164.0
Passing Yds/G Allowed.............201.4
Total Offense/G Allowed...........365.4
Wildcats: Coach Chris Elliott is in his inaugural season as head coach of the Wildcats and his ninth season overall. He is the 10th head coach in Bethel football history.
Throughout his tenure with the Wildcats, Coach Elliott served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator (2011), outside linebackers coach (2010), defensive coordinator (2007-2009), and defensive line coach (2004-2007). Coach Elliott was an assistant coach in the Victory Sports Network Senior All-Star Classic in 2007, and was on staff when Bethel played in the Polk County Classic in 2004. He has coached two NAIA All-American athletes and three All-Conference Defensive Linemen. Coach Elliott received his Masters of Arts in Education degree from Bethel University in 2005.
Coach Elliott graduated from Saint Francis University (Loretto, PA) in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. While at SFU, he was a student assistant for the Red Flash Football Team (NCAA-FCS). Following graduation, Coach Elliott joined the football staff at his high school alma mater, Bishop Guilfoyle (Altoona, PA), as assistant coach and offensive coordinator. He had the honor to coach alongside his former coach and mentor, Tom Irwin, who is a Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame Member, Blair County Sports Hall of Fame Member, and Bishop Guilfoyle Ring of Honor Member. Coach Elliott also served as a graduate assistant at Saint Francis University in 2000.
Chris is married to Lindsay Hailey from Nashville, TN. She is a 2002 graduate of Belmont University and received her master's degree from Tennessee Technological University in 2006. Lindsay is an Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Education in Bethel University's College of Liberal Arts. Chris and Lindsay make their home in McKenzie.
Eagles: Brent Barker is in first season as head coach of the Eagles. He is the third head coach in the five-year history of the program which entered the 2012 season with a mark of 10-41. He inherits a team which led the nation in offense last season averaging 44 points per game. The Eagles allowed 53 points per contest. He also serves as the Faulkner Athletic Director.
About the Programs:
Bethel University is a member of the NAIA and Mid-South Conference West Division. The school is located in McKenzie, Tenn. Bethel is a private, four-year university affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and has an enrollment of 5100.The football program first started in 1900 but twice in the history was discontinued, the first being from 1942-45 while the latest was from 1953-92. The Wildcats overall record is 133-235-8. The Cats have been to the NAIA playoffs three times in the history of the program, most recently in 2011.
Faulkner is located in Montgomery, Alabama. It was founded in 1942 as Montgomery Bible College. It was renamed Alabama Christian College in 1953. The school became Faulkner University in 1985. The football program began in 2007 and the all-time football record is 15-43 entering today's game.
This Week in the MSC:
# 21 Faulkner @ Bethel
Campbellsville @ # 25 Cumberland University
Wise @ # 11 Cumberlands (KY)
Union @ Kentucky Christian
# 2 Georgetown @ Pikeville
Belhaven @ Lindsey Wilson
Cats Go Pink Today
The Bethel Wildcat Football team is going "Go Pink" in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month today.
T-Shirts are now on sale in the concourse area near the Kermit Holland VIP Room Entrance. The cost is $15/shirt. A percentage of the profits will be donated to the Caring Hearts Fund at the Cancer Care Center located in Paris, Tennessee.
Three Former Greats Inducted into Bethel Athletics Hall-of -Fame
Sammy Fisher (1966), Matt Rooks (2002), and Steve Smith (2002) were inducted into the Bethel University Athletics Hall-of-Fame earlier today joining the previous 67 already inducted into the illustrious hall. They will be honored at halftime of today's game. For a complete look at each of the newest members of the Bethel Hall-of -Fame please visit www.bethelathletics.com. Congratulations to each of these former Bethel greats.
Did You Know?
Bethel plays three programs for the first time in school history this season. Bluefield, Lindsey-Wilson, and Marian join 104 other programs the Wildcats have met through the years.
The Mid-South Conference has four teams ranked in the Top 25 this week. Georgetown is No.2; Cumberlands (KY) is No.11, Faulkner is No. 21, while Cumberland University is No. 25.
Cordarious Mann's 1,045 rushing yards last season marked the seventh straight year the Wildcats have seen a running back finish with over 1,000 yards in a season. Mann set a new school record with seven touchdowns against Union two years ago. His 69-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter earlier this year against Campbellsville put him over the 3,000 career yard mark. He has 3,434 yards in his career at Bethel which places him third in school history behind Terrance Bell (3,982) and Adrain Smith (5,275). He is third in most career rushing touchdowns with 37 He trails only Bell (45) and Smith (66). The 69-yard run by Mann was the longest run from scrimmage for Bethel this season.
Bethel's Wil Masoud is second in two career categories. He has passed for 4, 341 yards which is second only to Brent Dearmon (7,045). He is also second in passing touchdowns with 36. Dearmon had a whopping 77 career TD tosses.
Bethel had fifteen All-Mid-South Conference All-Academic squad members last year.
Bethel is 33-49-1 all-time against the opponents they meet this year.
The Cats were picked first in the pre-season Mid-South Conference West Division Coaches Poll. Faulkner was selected to finish sixth in the Western Division.
Did you know you can follow the entire athletic program at Bethel by visiting www.bethelathletics.com?
Fifteen states are represented on the Wildcat roster this year. 94 players on the varsity and junior varsity squads are home grown from the Volunteer state. The next state with the most players is Florida with 33 Floridians on the Wildcat squads. One player is from American Samoa.
Three Wildcat players were named NAIA All-Scholar Athletes last year. Wyatt Kemp, Matt Scott and Ethan Wright all earned those honors.
Bethel's Matt Scott was awarded NFF Hampshire Honor Society Athlete award last year.
Coach Cliff Barna is still the all-time sacks leader at Bethel with 13.5.
You can join the Wildcat Moms Booster Club by visiting Facebook and searching for Wildcat Moms.
For more coverage of Wildcat football fans are encouraged to visit www.bethelfootball.com. The site is the work of Bethel graduate Daniel Thomas who is a proud supporter of the Wildcats.
Bethel Defensive Coordinator Willie Fells Ranks No. 10 on the Purdue University career tackles list with 330.
Pass Game Coordinator Ron Jankovich is second on the Bethel all-time single season passing yardage list with 2,225 in 2007. He had 19 touchdowns that same season which still ranks him third all-time.
Graduate Assistant Ryan Hayes is the older brother of Blaine Hayes. Blaine was an all-conference linebacker at Bethel, and ranks second in school history in tackles.
Bethel Public Address Announcer Kent Jones is also the "Radio Voice of the Huntingdon Mustangs."
Cordarious Mann's 69-yard run was the longest of his career and the longest from scrimmage by a Wildcat since Adrain Smith's 77-yard run dating back to 2007.