LINDSBORG — There are many who believe the Bethany College football team is about to turn the corner in Paul Hubbard’s third year as head coach and challenge for an upper-division KCAC finish.
The Swedes certainly took a step in the right direction on Saturday.
A 20-point eruption in the second quarter propelled Bethany to a 36-23 victory over GPAC member Briar Cliff of Iowa in its season opener.
The athletically gifted Swedes piled up 514 yards of offense and held Briar Cliff to just 288. Chris Owens was in on 11 tackles to lead the Bethany defense, seven of them being solos.
The game was tied at 20-all before the Swedes closed the game strong.
The expected big-play Bethany offense did not disappoint. Returning quarterback Isaiah Salazar pierced the Chargers for 301 yards on just 14 completions, as there were big gainers galore. Big-time receiver Michael Wimberly, an All-KCAC preseason pick, caught six passes for 189 yards. Rodney Molette marked his return after sitting out last year with a touchdown catch and Mike Milbourne also caught a TD passes.
Jafar Thomas took care of the ground game with 111 yards and scored two touchdowns. Aaron Knox added a rushing touchdown.
Briar Cliff was handicapped offensively as its top two quarterbacks were injured during the game.
“This a brand-new team, brand-new season, I am highly optimistic," Hubbard said. "I felt like we handled adversity better, that is something I talked about all year last year. Every time something bad happened on the field, they would just focus on the next play and handle the adversity thrown at them."
The Swedes have the week off before hosting McPherson College on Sept. 16 in the KCAC opener for both teams. The Swedes edged the Bulldogs 18-15 last year in McPherson when James Augusta kicked a 46-yard field goal on the final play of the game.