Here’s what you need to know about sports this week
Ella Roberts and Sebastian Studier
The Bethel University football team defeated No. 15 Wheaton College, 34-32, in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs.
A pick-six by freshman defensive back Devin Williams on the first play of the second half grew the Royal’s advantage 21-12. Two critical fourth down conversions on BU’s first drive of the fourth quarter were also big plays in Saturday’s snowy and windy matchup.
Bethel came out with a 73-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard rushing touchdown from Bryce Kunkle. The defense forced a quick three and out as the offense came back out making it 14-0 on a five-play drive. David Geebli had the nine-yard rush into the end zone.
The Thunder had it to start the second half, but Williams’s pick-six that was returned for 44 yards on the very first place grew the Royal’s advantage to 21-12. Wheaton responded on its next drive pulling back within 21-19. An explosive play from Roste to Joey Kidder on a 38-yard connection followed by A 12-yard reception to Micah Niewald moved BU into the red zone. Six plays later Bryce Kunkle punched it in for his second rushing touchdown of the day.
Leading 34-32 and just over two minutes to go, Bethel had it 2nd and nine from its own 43-yard line. Jaran Roste found an opening and slid for a 15-yard gain, allowing BU to preserve its victory.
BU’s defeat of Wheaton is the Thunder’s first-ever first-round loss dropping them to 14-1 now in those games. The Royals move on to the second round, traveling to Oregon where they will face Linfield University at 2 p.m. central time, noon pacific.
The Bethel University women’s basketball team had a 63-59 MIAC opening win over Carleton College Wednesday evening. Sophomore Lydia Hagstrom’s big second-half performance led her to match a career-high 15 points.
Both teams had a combined 16 turnovers in the first half as BU held a lead no larger than four. Leading 15-14 at the first break, BU had 12 of those points come in the paint. Carleton took a lead early in the second, leading by as many as six before the Royals tied it up and before Lauren Johnson scored with 2:26 to go making it 28-25 at the end of the half.
After three quarters, Bethel led 38-35. A combined effort of Kendal Cox and Hagstrom gave BU its largest margin of the night at seven on four separate occasions. Hagstrom made it 60-55 with 1:05 remaining before getting a huge block on the other end, her second of the night. The Royals outrebounded the Knights 46-33. 23 of those came on the offensive side of the floor.
The Bethel University men’s basketball team dropped its conference opener Wednesday night against Carleton College, 84-77.
The Royals dialed it in from beyond the arc in their first three possessions, leading them to go 7-of-12 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. BU held the lead for the first 18:39 of the game before Carleton took the lead with an in-transition bucket with 53 seconds left before the break.
The tables turned for Bethel in the second half where they couldn’t buy themselves a point. After missing their first nine attempts from long distance, Caden Boettcher broke that drought, closing the gap making it 72-62. Boettcher turned a Carleton turnover into points on the other end as his driving layup got the Royals within five points with 56 seconds left.
Despite holding the Knights to no baskets in the final three minutes, Carleton put it away at the free throw line where its last eight points came.
The Bethel men’s hockey team is set to travel to Illinois over Thanksgiving weekend for a couple of away matchups against Lake Forest College on Nov. 25 and 26. The Royals and the Foresters have been fairly evenly matched in the past with both teams holding five wins each and one tie in the all-time matchup. The Royals won the most recent matchup between these teams Jan. 1, 2022, with a 3-2 comeback victory at home.
The Bethel women’s hockey team has a couple of MIAC matchups on Dec. 2 and 3 against the College of Saint Benedict. December 2nd, the Royals will travel to St. Cloud for an away matchup and will be back home on the 3rd to take on Saint Benedict for a second time. Bethel holds the edge when it comes to the history of these two teams, holding a 26-15-5 all-time record against Saint Benedict. The Royals weren’t so lucky in their latest matchup though, losing 6-1 against the Bennies on Dec. 8, 2021.