Bethel defense takes centerstage in 56-0 rout of Little Axe
BETHEL ACRES – As if Bethel's offensive weapons weren't enough, the Wildcat defense took centerstage Friday night.
The Bethel defense limited Little Axe to a net total of two yards and only one first down as the Wildcats cruised to a 56-0 victory over the Indians to go to 3-0 on the season.
“Anytime you face an option team, you have to be sure to cover your assignments. The kids did a great job assignment-wise,” said Bethel head coach Joey Ginn.
The Wildcats led 56-0 through three quarters and played their reserves the entire fourth.
“It was good to get those young kids in there. We told our starters to make sure those guys get to play. They deserve it,” Ginn said.
Of the 36 rushing plays by Little Axe, 15 went for negative yards and four more netted zero yards.
Perhaps one of the major defensive standouts for the Wildcats was junior linebacker Corey Metscher, who was in on at least seven tackles for minus yardage and one more for no yards. Metscher also carried the ball eight times for 42 yards and had a 1-yard scoring run in the first quarter and an 18-yarder in the third.
Among others making strong defensive plays were Bronc Robbins, who was involved in three stops for minus yards. Dez Loving was involved in a tackle for lost yards and one for no gain. Krisdon Compton, Gage Nessel, Rowdy Story, John Allred and Bryce Rowan were active on defense as well in generating negative Little Axe yardage.
The Bethel offense wasn't too shabby either. In fact, the Wildcats were far from being poor while possessing the football.
Senior quarterback Jesse Tucker was 18-of-27 passing with one interception for 313 yards and six touchdowns. His favorite target on the night was Drae Wood, who had six receptions for 146 yards and four of those went for scores of 15, 31, 45 and 18 yards.
“With Drae, he is special and it was good to see Corey run the ball like he did,” said Ginn. “Jesse made some good decisions in the run game as far as the zone read was concerned.”
Wood wasn't the only receiving star for Bethel as John Gordon caught a pair of long scoring passes of 52 and 46 yards.
Three lost fumbles by the Wildcats didn't seem to bother the hosts while the Indians lost four fumbles in the game.
Little Axe fumbled on its first offensive play of the game and Bethel returned the favor on its first play of the game as the two teams got off to a shaky start.
However, the Wildcats scored on their next three offensive possessions to snatch a 21-0 advantage through the first quarter.
An 11-play, 72-yard drive resulted in an magnificent scoring play. Facing a fourth-and-11 at the Indian 15-yard line, Tucker hooked with Wood on a short pass down the middle. Wood scooted around right end, turned on the afterburners and covered the remaining distance for the touchdown with 5:36 to go in the first quarter. Gabriel Palomares' extra-point kick made it 7-0.
Thanks to a botched punt attempt by Little Axe on the Indians' next possession, Bethel took over at the Little Axe 14-yard line. Despite a 5-yard penalty, the Wildcats got into the end zone with Metscher handling all the carries, capped by his 1-yard TD run with 2:01 remaining in the opening period. The PAT by Palomares was good as the score swelled to 14-0.
Once again, the Bethel defense swallowed up Little Axe and forced a punt. With the Wildcats camped at their own 48, it took just one play to score as Tucker connected with Gordon on the 52-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left in the first. The ensuing extra-point kick was good by Palomares.
Despite an interception on the Wildcats' first series of the second quarter, Bethel wasn't denied on its next two series as the Tucker-to-Wood scoring hookups led to a 35-0 halftime cushion for Bethel.
Tucker's 31-yard scoring aerial to Wood and the Palomares subsequent PAT made it 28-0 with 7:10 to go before halftime.
Then after the Wildcat defense thwarted another Indian possession, Tucker found Wood again on a pass down the middle for a 45-yard score as another Palomares extra point made it 35-0 with 5:15 remaining before halftime.
Bethel then scored off its first three series of the third quarter as Metscher had a scoring run with 10:29 left after the Wildcats received the second-half kickoff. Tucker connected with Gordon on a 46-yard scoring pass with 6:51 remaining in the third and Tucker hooked up with Wood for a TD pass for the fourth time on the night, which went for 18 yards, with 5:00 left in the third. Palomares converted all three extra-point kicks in the quarter to help produce the 56-0 lead and close out the scoring.
Bethel opens District 2A-3 play at home next Friday night against Christian Heritage at 7 p.m.