BETHEL ACRES — The Bethel Wildcats lit up the sky with an aerial assault Friday night as they defeated the McLoud Redskins 47-14.
Quarterback Gunner Smith threw for 358 of Bethel’s 388 yards and scored five touchdowns in the process. The final 30 yards and sixth passing touchdown came off of the arm of backup Jesse Tucker in the final few minutes of the game.
Slot receiver Devin Acklin benefited most from Smith’s gun. Acklin hooked up with Smith four times in the contest.
“We kind of like these guys (Smith and Acklin),” said Bethel head coach Joey Ginn. “They’ve been doing this since they were sophomores. They have a great bond on and off of the football field.”
Bethel took the opening kickoff and scored in four plays and just 1:02 of play. Smith found Acklin for the 47-yard scoring combo to take a 7-0 lead.
Bethel’s defense also came to play. They held the Redskins to just 219 yards of total offense. McLoud managed 210 yards on the ground and completed just one pass. Quarterback Adrian Frye went 1-of-12 for nine yards. He also had one interception.
“We challenged the defense this week and the kids responded,” said Ginn. “Our defensive backs played really well tonight.”
Bethel scored two more times in the first quarter – the first three times they touched the ball. Drive two ended the same way their opening drive did, with Smith finding Acklin. This time the two hooked up from 20 yards out. The kick failed and Bethel held a 13-0 lead with 5:49 remaining in the quarter.
The Wildcats’ third score came on Smith’s touchdown pass and he let Jesse Tucker join in with a score. Tucker scored from 34 yards out to give Bethel a 19-0 lead at the 2:02 mark.
The game slowed way down in the second quarter. The two squads traded stops and turnovers until McLoud finally got on the scoreboard with 1:58 left in the half. Frye scored on a one-yard plunge to cut the Bethel lead to 19-7.
Smith needed just 33 seconds to get the score back. He found speedster Drae Wood on a 24-yard pitch and catch, upping the advantage to 26-7 at the half.
The Wildcats stretched the lead to 33-7 at the 3:12 mark of the third quarter. Smith found Acklin for their third score, from 23 yards out.
Two minutes later they did it again, for the fourth and final time of the night. Acklin took the Smith offering to the house from 37 yards out with 1:05 showing on the clock. Bethel led 40-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Redskins scored their second touchdown with 6:12 left in the game. Ashten Zimmerman found a hole in the Bethel defense and ran seven yards to paydirt. They trailed 40-14.
Bethel scored its final touchdown on Tucker’s scoring throw to Harrison Thomas. Thomas scored from 21 yards out.
Bethel improves to 2-0 with the win, while McLoud drops to 0-2.
The Wildcats will hit the road for the first time this season with a trip to rival Little Axe next Friday. The Redskins will play host to the Perkins-Tryon Demons.