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By Kevin Nichols
Contributing Writer 

Bethel's Record Season Ends In Second Round Of Playoffs


November 26, 2020

Bethel's record-setting season ended last Friday night at #9 Marlow in the second round of the Class 2A Oklahoma High School playoffs when the Outlaws (10-0) took advantage of a couple of rare turnovers and enjoyed a short playing field, doubling Bethel (6-4) up on the scoreboard to win 70-35.

"We played good enough on offense to win except for the three turnovers, which you can't do against a team like Marlow. I was proud of the way the defense played too. Yeah, they scored 70, but they started four drives inside our twenty and had the punt return for a touchdown," Bethel coach Joey Ginn said.

Bethel took the opening kickoff and marched down the field on a long drive, ending with a one-yard run by Corey Metscher. Gabe Palomares added the extra point, and the Wildcats led, 7-0.

On the ensuing Outlaw possession, the 'Cats forced a punt. It appeared the Wildcats would go down and add points to the board, but senior quarterback Jesse Tucker was intercepted. Tucker completed 26 or 45 pass attempts for 305 yards with a touchdown and the one interception.

The defense held Marlow to a field goal attempt after the interception and celebrated the stop when the Outlaws missed the kick. Marlow stopped Bethel after that and returned a punt to the Wildcat's 20-yard line, scoring on the next play to tie it up, 7-7.

Bethel was stopped on its next possession. When the 'Cats attempted to execute their rugby-style kick down the sideline, however, the kick went to the middle of the field. Marlow took advantage of the mistake and returned the punt 82 yards to take the lead, 14-7.

The second quarter was back and forth. Marlow scored another 21 points, and Bethel added fourteen. Tucker had a six-yard scoring run, and then he hit John Gordon for a 38-yard touchdown pass. The 'Cats trailed at the half, 35-21.

Corey Metscher scored in the third quarter on a three-yard run. Marlow then exploded on offense with five touchdowns and an overwhelming lead. Tucker hit paydirt one last time in the fourth quarter on an eight-yard run.

Bethel's offense had 93 plays for 459 total yards and five touchdowns against a top ten team in Class 2A. Senior Drae Wood finished the night with ten receptions for 105 yards. John Gordon had seven catches for 95 yards.

Wood finishes his career as Bethel's all-time leading scoring receiver with 35 touchdown catches. Other statistical highlights from this season are the following; Tucker, 167 completions on 292 attempts for 2,068 yards and 23 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions along with 432 rushing yards and six more touchdowns; Metscher, 813 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns; Dez Loving, 476 rushing yards and five touchdowns; Gordon, 43 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns; Wood, 45 catches for 539 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Century Club at Bethel started in 1986. It recognizes all players who finish a season with 100 or more tackles. The 2020 season saw three new members added: LW Moore (145), Metscher (102), and Loving (101).

Ginn said, "You have to be proud of your kids. I mean fifth-ever winning season, first playoff win, first time to the second round. We look at the positives going into the offseason also. Three or our four losses, if we take care of things on our end, we win."

Ginn also is excited about the 2021 season already. "I've been looking at the depth chart. We've got six returning starters coming back on offense and that number could be as high as eight when you look at some kids who ended up playing a lot for us late in the season. On defense, we have eight starters coming back with two more who played a lot. Our kicker, Palomares, hit 27 of his 30 kicks this year. He will be back."

Congratulations to the 2020 Bethel Wildcats on their final record of six wins and four losses. They, like all teams, struggled through COVID-19 adversities. They, unlike all teams, persevered through those struggles to not only make the playoffs, but to win in the postseason to advance to the program's first-ever second round context. Watch out for Bethel in 2021.


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