Even though their record wasn’t what it could have been, Bethel completed a record-setting season with a 34-27 loss to Lone Grove Friday night.
The loss dropped the Wildcats to 2-8, the same record the Longhorns finished with after the win.
The two teams traded leads before Bethel’s offense failed to answer the Longhorns late in the game. Lone Grove took an early 8-0 lead, but Bethel responded quickly.
Gunner Smith found a wide open Drae Wood in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown halfway through the first quarter. The Wildcats got the ball right back when Alex Brown’s kickoff wasn’t caught and Keaton Robinson recovered it for Bethel.
The ensuing drive ended with a missed 35-yard field goal but the Wildcat defense was strong again and forced a short punt after a Corey Metscher sack.
The Wildcats had driven to the Longhorn 10 when the first quarter ended. On the opening play of the second quarter, Smith found Jaylon Gordon, who made a great catch on a tipped ball. Brown’s extra point made it 14-8 Bethel.
Lone Grove scored on a quick drive of their own to tie the game at 14-14.
On the kickoff following that score, the kicker didn’t hit the ball flush, but it went just over 10 yards and Lone Grove recovered the onside kick. After the special teams miscue, the defense forced a turnover on downs, however, Lone Grove forced Bethel into a three-and-out and Smith dropped back to punt. The kick was blocked and the Longhorns took over at the Wildcats’ one-yard line.
They scored one play later to take a 20-14 lead with 3 minutes left in the half.
Neither team could get anything going in the third until Bethel forced a fumble late in the third quarter. Gabel Ledbetter recovered the fumble for Bethel.
Soon after that, Smith found Wood again to help Bethel retake the lead 21-20.
Once again, Lone Grove was able to convert big plays to keep a drive alive and scored again. Again, Bethel stopped the PAT try and the Longhorns led 26-21.
On the next possession, Smith found Devin Acklin for a 44-yard gain and Matthew Melter scored on a 16-yard run on the next play.
Bethel went for two to try to stretch the lead to three points but the pass from Acklin on a trick play was intercepted to keep the score at 27-26.
Lone Grove responded with a three-play drive to take a 34-27 lead and Bethel had their backs against the wall.
A long run by Melter was erased when Bethel had a personal foul on a player and a coach. The Wildcats overcame that problem but they faced a 4th and 3 on Lone Grove’s 42-yard line. Bethel went deep in the playbook and lined up in the wildcat formation. Melter took the snap, pitched it to Acklin on the reverse and Acklin tried to pass it, but his throw was picked off.
Lone Grove was able to run out the clock and win the game 34-27.
Smith finished the game 14 for 26 with 165 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 28 yards. Acklin had four catches for 65 yards. Wood had four catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon caught three passes for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Melter led the Wildcats in rushing with 95 yards on 21 carries. He scored the other Bethel TD.