Arden Hills, Minn. - The Bethel Royals appeared to be in mid-season form as they defeated Simpson College 55-3 on opening day of the 2011 season. The Royals were able to score on their first four possessions while holding the Storm scoreless on their first eleven possessions. Simpson's only points of the day came when they kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Royals appear to have picked up right where they left off last season. Bethel's focus continues to be centered on two things; running the ball and playing solid defense. The Royals did just that as they put up 439 yards on the ground while holding the storm to 109 yards of total offense. Bethel controlled the clock as well, keeping possession of the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
On the opening drive of the year, quarterback Josh Aakre (Sr., Dawson, Minn.) got the momentum moving for the Royals, as he broke loose with a 23 yard run, putting Bethel in to Simpson territory in a hurry. Aakre capped off the drive several plays later when he scored on a 12-yard rush.
The second Bethel drive of the day included a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jay Hilbrands (So., Clara City, Minn.), and a 23-yard rush by Brandon Marquardt (Fr., Champlin, Minn.). The drive ended with Aakre running it in from the 3 yard line to make the score 13-0.
One of the biggest plays of the day came on a 75-yard rush by Aakre in the second quarter. The senior found plenty of room to run thanks to a big block by Brandon Marquardt.
The second half was more of the same, as the Royals continued to punish Simpson with their running game. Marquardt showcased his speed on a 47-yard scamper into the end zone, during which he was basically untouched. After the game Marquardt said, "The stats look nice but it's all due to the offensive line."
On the day the Royals racked up 577 yards of total offense on 73 plays, including 439 yards on the ground. Marquardt led the Royals ground attack, accumulating 180 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Aakre added 139 yards rushing on 10 carries, with three touchdowns. Jesse Phenow (So., Richfield, Minn.) rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries and added a touchdown.
In the air, Aakre completed 10 of 14 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Senior tight end Alex Wright (Minnetonka, Minn.) led Bethel with 3 receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. In addition to catching one of the Aakre touchdowns, receiver Jay Hilbrands (Jr., Clara City, Minn.) had 3 catches for 54 yards.
Defensively, the Royals held Simpson to 109 total yards on 52 plays. The Storm were only able to pass for 32 yards on the day. Junior outside linebacker Erik Smith (Jr., Henning, Minn.) led the defense with 5 solo tackles including 2 tackles for loss. The Bethel defenses also held Simpson to just 6 first downs in the entire game and the Storm were held without a first down in 13 chances.
Next weekend the Royals will continue their 2011 campaign as they travel to Concordia (Wis.) to take on the Falcons. Bethel will open conference play at home on Sept. 17, against Carleton.