Bethel got off to a fast start as Lambuth’s quarterback Josh Garza fumbled the first offense snap of the game and Bethel’s Cliff Barna jumped on the loose ball at the Lambuth 19. Bethel needed five plays to find the end endzone with a six yard touchdown pass from Ronnie Jankovich to Joevaris Carter. The PAT was blocked but Bethel led 6-0 with less than four minutes played. The Bethel defense held the Eagles to -1 yard and forced a punt on their following possession. On Bethel’s first offensive play, Jankovich found Julian Tyler for a 50 yard strike to the Lambuth 11. Four plays later, Jankovich called his own number powering it in from the one and Bethel led 13-0. Lambuth responded by driving to the Bethel 1 yard line. Facing fourth and one, Donald Lightfoot and Markee Robinson stood up Lambuth’s Shanon Arnold denying a score.
The second quarter opened with Lambuth’s Ryan Nanney booting a 25 yard field goal to make the score 13-3. Bethel got a good kickoff return from Justin Woodard out to the Bethel 49. Two plays later and Terrance Bell broke through for a 51 yard touchdown run. The ‘Cats elected to go for two and Adrain Smith took it in for a 21-3 lead. Bethel’s next offensive possession ended with a turnover as the Eagle’s defensive pressure caused Jankovich to fumble at the Bethel 10 yard line. Lambuth capitalized as Garza found Brandon Okechukwu for a six yard touchdown and a 21-10 score. After a Bethel punt, Lambuth got right back into the game as Garza found Shane Smith for an 84 throw and run. The Eagles opted got go for two that Allen Irvin converted and Lambuth trailed only by three 21-18. Lambuth got the opportunity to tie the game after Woodard fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Bethel 12 yard line. The defense held forcing a Nanney 25 yard try which was missed wide left. Bethel drove nine plays and 92 yards for their next score as Jankovich found Tyler from 10 yards out. The key on the drive was a third and eleven where Jankovich found Adrain Smith for a 24 yard completion. Matt Wininger kicked the PAT and Bethel was in front 28-18 with :39 left in the second. The last play of the half was exciting as Garza fumbled while he was scrambling and Brenton Ford picked up the loose ball, ran from the Bethel 42 and made it all the way to the Lambuth 4 before being tackled to end the half.
The teams traded turnovers to start the third quarter, but Bethel lit the scoreboard up again on their second possession of the half. On their second play, Jankovich hit Carter for a 50 yard touchdown and Bethel opened the lead up to 35-18. The Bethel defense came up with another turnover as BJ Banks picked off Garza on the Eagle’s first play at the Bethel one yard line. After a defensive stop, Lambuth showed they had “no quit” in them as they went four plays and 27 yards for an Allen Irvin from Garza score. But, Bethel started to put the game away on their next possession as they saw Adrain Smith take it in from the Eagle 15 yard line on third and four for a 42-25 ‘Cat lead.
Lambuth drove to the Bethel 20 yard line to start the fourth quarter and Ryan Nanney missed wide right from 27 yards out. Lambuth’s Jason Hoath picked off his second pass of the night at the Bethel 19. Lambuth was unable to take advantage as the Wildcat’s defense stopped Lambuth on downs. Bethel put an exclamation point on the game as Adrain Smith took the next snap 79 yards for a touchdown and Bethel stretched its lead to 49-25. Lambuth continued to play hard and put together a 14 play 68 yard drive using 7:04 of the clock to cut the lead to 49-31. Bethel put the icing on the cake as senior fullback Greg Howard took it in from the seven yard line with 1:30 left and a 56-31 score.
Before the game, Bethel recognized their seniors and their families. This year’s class includes, Grady and Knox Baggett, Cliff Barna, Terrance Bell, Antonio Brown, Sr., Justin Cobb, Daniel Duncan, Brenton Ford, Greg Howard, Ronnie Jankovich, Jonathan Laster, Buck Reed, Adrain Smith, Seanrick Trimiar, and Cheerleader Saren Thompson.
Offensively, Smith led the rushing attack with 13 attempts for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Bell had 144 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Jankovich was 14 of 21 for 221 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Joevaris Carter had four grabs and two touchdowns. Buck Reed had two catches for 38 yards.
Defensively, Wade Vandergriff was created with 10 stops. Markee Robinson had 9 tackles and one for a loss; BJ Banks had eight stops and an interception; Justin Cobb had eight; Brenton Ford had seven with two for loss and a fumble recovery.Bethel goes to 9-1 on the season and will be on the road for their final regular season game against Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky. The kickoff is set for 12:30pm and the game can be heard on Supertalk 97.7 and on the world wide web by going to www.bethelathletics.com.