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McKENZIE (August 23) — Not many people outside the immediate Bethel University football family gave the Wildcats much of chance to beat the No. 2 Reinhardt Eagles Thursday night at Wildcat Stadium in McKenzie. In the end, the Cats shocked the Eagles 31-21. A huge crowd had gathered under the lights at Wildcat Stadium for the first time on a Thursday since 2010.
Former Bethel great Brent Dearmon who helped lead Bethel to glory as a quarterback won his first game as a collegiate head coach as his Wildcats as he described it, “Won the game with explosive plays.”
After a swing pass behind the line of scrimmage was recovered by Reinhardt’s Quincy Standifer the Eagles capitalized with a three-play 13-yard drive capped off by a three-yard score by Andy Whisenant at the 12:02 mark. The Eagles led 6-0. Nick Marquez’s PAT made it 7-0.
Bethel regrouped and drove down the field but failed to get any points after being stopped short on a fourth down attempt inside the five. Two plays later however, the Wildcats would snatch the momentum back after Tito Hunter intercepted an Eagle pass. The Cats set up shop at the RU ten-yard line. Quarterback Sam Castronova broke several tackles and scored from twelve yards out. Dalton McCann’s point after tied the game at 7-7.
The Wildcats would score three minutes later on a 58-yard punt return by J’ Kobi Reddick. They would strike again at the 2:27 mark of the first stanza on a 71-yard touchdown run by De’Ontay Tate to push the lead to 21-7.
Reinhardt’s Montralius Mosely and Nick Harris scored second quarter touchdowns and Bethel’s lead was shaved to 24-21.
The Eagles even had a chance to tie the score going into the locker room, but a 43-yard field goal by Marquez hit the right upright and the teams went to the break at 24-21.
Defense was the standard for both teams in the second half. The only score was a two-yard touchdown pass by Bethel’s Nolan Chowbay to Devante Jimenez at the 10:38 mark of the third quarter. The Cats led 31-21. The score proved to be all the Wildcats would need to capture a remarkable win. Freshman Jaylon Dorsey picked off a RU pass to seal the deal for the Wildcats.
The victory was the second ever by the Wildcats over a top-five ranked team. They beat No. 1 ranked Georgetown in the 2012 NAIA playoffs. Bethel fans will always remember Jahron Reynolds returning a kick-off on his birthday for 92-yards and a touchdown with just 13 seconds left in the contest.
Tate led Bethel with 153 rushing yards. Mosely led RU with 104 yards on the ground.
Despite having 30 less snaps in the game Bethel had a 377-326 advantage in total yards. The Eagles had 84 snaps on offense.
Jeremy Beaulieu led the Cats with 13 total tackles. Newcomer David Miller followed with 11. Keyshawn Brummett and Eriq Hicks had big efforts on the defensive line with nine and eight stops respectively.
It was Bethel’s first victory ever over Reinhardt. RU had won the previous five games in the series.
Coach Dearmon was ecstatic following the victory. “I am so proud of these guys for the way they never gave up. We never hung our heads or pointed blame fingers at each other. They just kept chopping. Explosive plays were big for us and a big difference in the contest. Our offense put our defense in some tough situations but they just kept coming through for us. The community and school have been so very good to us and for us to win this game for them is a dream come true. Personally, it is so good to be back home.”
In his post-game radio interview Coach Dearmon, his staff and players dedicated the win to Bethel Chief of Security James Harris who passed away suddenly Wednesday night.
The Wildcats have an open date next week before traveling to Pikeville on September 6 to battle the Bears.