November 26, 2010

Wheaton, Bethel meet again

More news about: Bethel | Wheaton (Ill.)

By Jason Bailey
for D3sports.com

Wheaton celebrates its 2009 win
Wheaton (Ill.) scored on the last play of the game to defeat Bethel last season, and it hasn't been forgotten.
Photo by Scott Pierson, d3photography.com

It wasn’t any easier to stomach on video.

A Bethel pass-rusher leaps over a running back’s attempted block. The Wheaton quarterback scrambles right as four defenders converge. A flick of the wrist, an athletic catch in the end zone and the Thunder beat the Royals 29-26 on a 5-yard touchdown pass on the game’s final play.

“Looking at that kind of makes you sick knowing that you let it slip away based on not doing the right thing,” Bethel linebacker Ross Petterson said. “On that final pass, it just feels like you got punched in the gut, and you can’t even believe what happened.”

But don’t read too much into the dramatic ending of last year’s regular-season meeting between Wheaton and Bethel. When the teams meet again in a second-round playoff game Saturday, the past battles will mean little (Wheaton also edged Bethel 10-7 in a driving rainstorm in 2008).

“What it means is that we’re two very evenly matched teams,” Wheaton coach Mike Swider said. “Both games could have gone either way, and we realize that. We’re not idiots. It’s a difference of one or two plays, and the outcome is the other way.”

That small margin of error is why neither Wheaton (10-1, 6-1 CCIW) nor Bethel (10-1, 7-1 MIAC) are stuck in the past. Both teams earned Pool C bids to the postseason after losing to an undefeated conference champion (North Central and St. Thomas) that received a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. And now that there is a rare opportunity to reach the national semifinals without meeting UW-Whitewater or Mount Union, looking backward isn’t the best way to move ahead.

The real advantage of those previous matchups is knowing what to expect: A heavyweight fight.

In Bethel’s corner is Logan Flannery, who has 1,516 rushing yards -- his fourth consecutive season with more than 1,000 yards -- and 15 TDs in 11 games, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The wrecking ball pounded Wheaton for 281 rushing yards in two games combined and is running behind an offensive line with four consistent starters since the start of last season. Bethel coach Steve Johnson isn’t hesitant to say Flannery is one of the best backs in the country.

“He has great vision. He’s really tough, and he’s not really that big, but I think he kind of surprises defenders how powerful he is,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to explain. I don’t think he could either. He’s just a running back who was born to run.”

Flannery, the MVP of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, was instrumental in Bethel’s 28-20 first-round playoff victory over Wartburg. He recorded 182 offensive yards, scored on the ground and in the air, and added a 2-point conversion for good measure. His attention, however, has quickly shifted to the latest installment of a “fun rivalry” with Wheaton.

“Their defense is good, and we have to stay poised and not get frustrated, because they’re going to make big plays and we’re going to make big plays,” Flannery said.

Wheaton has definitely had ups and downs. Despite a balanced attack led by quarterback Jordan Roberts -- four rushers and two receivers have more than 400 yards -- the dual threat has needed to deliver several stirring comebacks. The Thunder scored 24 unanswered points in the second half of a 31-24 regular-season victory over Carthage, then upped the ante by scoring 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Coe 31-21 in the first round of the playoffs.

“We don’t give up. We can finish games. And we want it,” said linebacker Cory Hart, who started last week’s comeback with a crucial third-quarter interception. “We’re not the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes, but we’re a team and we play like we’re playing for something.”

That team effort includes a Thunder defense that has forced 35 turnovers and shut down several top running backs in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Wheaton receiver Freddy Ellis said one message has been repeated clearly this season: “We are a physical football team, so let’s keep swinging and see if they can keep up with us for four quarters.”

There’s no doubt -- whatever team gets knocked out Saturday will know exactly what hit them.

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 4: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Tex. A&M-Commerce
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Anna Maria at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Albright at Kean
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
7:00 PM
WPI at Curry
7:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Bridgewater State
7:00 PM
William Paterson at SUNY-Maritime
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Ursinus at TCNJ
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
Video
7:30 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
Waldorf at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
12:00 PM
Dickinson at Hobart
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Holland College (PEI, Canada) at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Otterbein at St. John Fisher
12:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
12:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at MIT
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
1:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Coast Guard
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Wesley
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton State
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Averett
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Wilmington at Olivet
1:00 PM
Adrian at Defiance
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Morrisville State
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Brockport State
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Methodist
1:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Bluffton
1:00 PM
Marietta at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Cortland State at Buffalo State
Audio
1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
1:00 PM
Sewanee at DePauw
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:30 PM
Alma at Heidelberg
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
1:30 PM
Bridgewater (Va.) at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
St. Vincent at John Carroll
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Bethany
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
Audio
2:00 PM
Franklin at Illinois Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Rhodes at Austin
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
UW-Platteville at Buena Vista
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at St. John's
2:00 PM
Crown at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Simpson at Iowa Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
Audio
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Rockford
2:00 PM
Aurora at Illinois College
2:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
2:00 PM
Coe at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Presentation at Luther
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Maranatha Baptist
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Culver-Stockton
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Dakota Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
Ripon at St. Scholastica
2:00 PM
Hendrix at Westminster (Mo.)
2:10 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
3:00 PM
St. Norbert at Carthage
4:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whitworth
4:00 PM
College of Idaho at Pacific
4:30 PM
Arizona Christian at George Fox
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Christopher Newport
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Case Western Reserve
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Butler at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Taylor (Ind.) at Anderson
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Denison at Earlham
7:00 PM
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
7:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at North Park
7:00 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Howard Payne at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Millsaps
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas Lutheran
7:00 PM
Robert Morris-Chicago at UW-Oshkosh
7:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Dubuque
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:30 PM
Central at Benedictine
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Hamline at Minnesota-Morris
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at Wisconsin Lutheran
8:00 PM
Wartburg at Augsburg
Audio
8:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos

What We're Reading