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The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

A Royal Homecoming victory

Bethel University’s football team outlasted the Gusties 37-28 in an alumni-packed stadium Saturday.
Bella Haveman
Running back Aaron Ellingson runs a play during Bethel University’s second home game of the season. Ellingson scored two of the five touchdowns during the game.

Junior Derek Fromm’s forehead glistened with sweat during the Bethel University Royals’ 37-28 victory in Saturday’s Homecoming game over the Gustavus Adolphus College Gusties. After weeks of nothing above 80, the sticky, 83-degree day felt like a sauna in an arctic forest. 

“You can’t do that!” Fromm chanted in unison with the right side of Royal Stadium’s bleachers, speckled with white-donning freshmen and sophomores and navy blue-clad juniors and seniors. A yellow flag was lying on the field and the students watching made sure to let the Gusties know. 

Fromm led the Royals’ student section, from chants of support on offense like “Here we go, Royals, here we go!” to similar chants on the other side of the ball such as “De-fense!” Fromm said the raucous student section, stomping and clapping, played a part in the Royals’ win.

“Obviously the football team did it, but we feel like we were involved,” Fromm said.

As the claps following the chants echoed around the field, the head referee announced the penalty that put Bethel into position to pull off a last-second victory. 

“Pass interference, defense number 23…” It was all the crowd of 5,127 needed to hear to erupt into a thunderous earthquake of roars as the officials moved the ball 24 yards closer to the Gustavus end zone. 

“I think [Homecoming] is something that Bethel does really differently that can bring people in,” Fromm said. “We all get hyped over one thing and everyone buys in, which makes it exciting.” 

The game itself provided enough excitement, particularly after the crucial pass interference penalty. Two incompletions and a run up the middle for a 1-yard gain by senior quarterback George Bolt brought up fourth down for the Royals. After a timeout called by each team, Bethel lined up with one last shot to win the game. Junior receiver Micah Niewald dashed through his route into the end zone and watched the perfectly lofted, almond-shaped football land in his arms for the touchdown that put the Royals ahead with 19 seconds remaining. 


Bethel Royals defensive line faces off against Gustavus Adolphus during the football game Saturday, Sept. 30. (Bell)

The first drive of the game saw Bethel nearly go three-and-out, but the team gained new life after a Gustie twelve-man penalty on the punt. Ultimately the drive came up empty and Gustavus opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown set up by a long screen pass down the right edge of the field. Gustie quarterback George Sandven scrambled to the right side and took it in himself for the score with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. 

Bethel then responded with two unanswered touchdowns from senior running back Aaron Ellingson before halftime. 

Gustavus’ opening drive of the second half stalled on the Bethel 7-yard line after a failed fourth down conversion, and later, a long completion from senior quarterback George Bolt to Niewald set the Royals up at the opposing 34-yard line. A Hugo Cifuentes field goal gave Bethel a comfortable 17-7 lead late in the third quarter. 

Gustavus opened the fourth quarter by marching 96 yards down the field in 5 minutes and 39 seconds, scoring a touchdown at the goal line to get within a field goal. After a Bethel punt on the ensuing drive, Gustavus promptly took a 21-17 lead on a 40-yard screen pass down the right side. 

With the Royals needing a conversion on fourth down with 3 and a half minutes to play, Niewald came up with yet another long catch-and-run to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Riley Gritz. Bethel 24, Gustavus 21. 

Nearly two minutes later, Gustavus once again responded with a long touchdown pass down the right sideline. 

As the clock kept ticking, Bethel had one drive to take the lead and win the game. An unnecessary roughness penalty on a Niewald dropped pass gave the Royals another shot at the Gusties’ 39-yard line. On the next play, Gustavus committed a pass interference penalty which put the ball at the 24. Finally, with less than 20 seconds remaining, Niewald caught the game-winning touchdown, putting Bethel up 31-28. A last-ditch effort by Gustavus resulted in two offensive penalties and a fumble recovered by Bethel in the end zone, putting an end to the game with a final score of 37-28. 

While the game carried extra excitement for the parents, student, and families who united to watch the back-and-forth contest, Aaron Ellingson says the team maintains a different mindset. 

“I think the hype around it from the school and from our classmates … adds to the excitement, which is great,” Ellingson said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just another game and we treat it like that.” 

1995 undergraduate alum Heather Flies said football games during her time were less coordinated in regards to attire themes for the student section, but the heart remains the same now as it did then. 

“[Football] was a big thing and the players were beloved and it was fun to come out and support them,” Flies said. 

As the team moves into MIAC and Skyline division play, the Royals will look to start a win streak over the next couple of weeks at Macalester College and Augsburg University, respectively. 

When the team comes back to Royal Stadium to face Hamline University Oct. 21, the student section will get another chance to raise the volume – as Fromm led them to do all day Saturday – and keep Bethel’s chance at a MIAC championship alive.

Additional reporting by Bella Haveman and CJ Wrzesien.

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About the Contributor
Bella Haveman, Staff Photographer
Bella Haveman, 19, is an art and English double major with an emphasis on creative writing. She enjoys reading, listening to music and exploring new places. She loves traveling to different countries and adding to her fan and earring collection. She is currently trying to discover all the coolest coffee shops in the Twin Cities.  [email protected] | 515-520-4142
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    Dennis HermanOct 2, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Nice work Aiden!

    Dennis Herman