Bethel eyeing first Stagg Bowl berth
Bethel hits the road for its fourth consecutive playoff game after avenging its only loss of the season with a 12-7 defeat of fellow Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member St. Thomas in NCAA quarterfinal action and advancing to its second NCAA semifinal. Bethel is now 6-5 all-time in six NCAA playoff appearances. The Royals last trip to the semifinals was in 2007, also against Mount Union.
The Purple Raiders moved on to the semifinal round for the 16th consecutive season after cruising to a 37-7 win against Alfred. Mount Union is 68-11 all-time in 22 postseason trips, and is in the hunt for the program’s 11th Division III Championship.
Bethel brings a strong running game to Alliance, Ohio, with a rushing offense that ranks 12th in the nation with 257.15 ypg, while the Royals also feature a stout defense that is allowing just 227.38 ypg (4th) and 11.23 ppg (4th) this season. Senior running back Logan Flannery sparks the Royals’ running game with 142.85 yards per game, which ranks 10th in the nation.
Mount Union will counter with an offense that is putting up more than 40 points per game, and one of the top defenses in the nation. The Purple Raiders pace the nation in scoring defense (6.85 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (77.52), and rank second total defense (194.38 ypg).
The Purple Raiders defeated Bethel, 62-14, in the 2007 NCAA semifinals in the only meeting between the two schools.