#9 Bethel capitalizes on turnovers to take down Campbellsville

The Tigers led after the first quarter, but Bethel bounced back and, taking advantage of Tiger turnovers, were victorious.
Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 8:55 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Bethel University turned Campbellsville over eight times on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers led after the first quarter, but Bethel bounced back and, taking advantage of Tiger turnovers, were victorious.

The highly talented Bethel offense came out of the gate hot, converting on consecutive 3rd downs. On another third and long situation, Ousainue Gai hit the quarterback to force fourth and long. Bethel would convert the fourth down play and move into Tiger territory. Campbellsville’s defense locked up three straight plays to force a 26-yard field goal attempt. Bethel took the three-point advantage on the first drive.

Jagger Gillis wouldn’t waste any time in getting the Tigers in scoring position. He completed passes over the middle to Andre Siler and Luke Sheperson to move into enemy land. On third down, Gillis fired a dart to the sideline, connecting with Ashton Auker for 31 yards. With the ball resting on the three-yard line, Jagger tucked the ball for six. After a successful PAT, the Tigers held a 7-3 lead with 3:44 remaining.

Bethel continued to attack through the air with a 51-yard connection. The Wildcats had it on the Campbellsville eight-yard line. After a crucial block in the back, CU’s defense stood firm on the goal line. Bethel again settled for a 29-yard field goal with 36.4 seconds left in the first quarter. Campbellsville took a lead into the second quarter.

Right before the first quarter, the Tigers fumbled on their 19-yard line. Bethel was held to another third-down spot before finding their first score via the rushing touchdown. With 13:46 left in the first half, Bethel led 13-7.

The air battle continued with Gillis chucking passes to Sheperson and Spencer McCowan. Coach Russell dialed up a few plays for Jamun Evans, moving to the 22-yard line for a fourth and one. CU called a misdirection run to the left side, and Bethel’s defense stood still.

Bethel’s offense sputter after Campbellsville came up with another needed stop. On the next possession, Gillis threw a pick at his 40-yard line after Siler slipped. The front seven of Campbellsville was tested again. After a few plays, the Wildcats had it 4th and two from the CU 38. Dimitri Hernandez and a host of tacklers made the stop.

On CU’s next play, Bethel picked up a strip sack and have possession inside CU territory again. This time, the turnover would hunt the Tigers as Collazo III fired a 15-yard dart across the middle for the score.

At the intermission, Bethel held the 20-7 margin. Gillis went 11-14 for 130 yards. Siller made three catches for 42 yards. Jaylin Mack led CU with four tackles. Minus the turnovers for Campbellsville, both teams were pretty even. Bethel had 11 first downs, while CU had eight. Bethel accumulated 177 receiving yards, with Campbellsville at 130. Neither team was able to establish the run game. The Wildcats had 52 yards, while the Tigers had 17. Both teams were averaging over 5.4 yards per play in the first half.

CU got the ball coming out of the half. On the opening play, Bethel forced the ball on the ground, and it eventually got out of the endzone for a safety. Bethel increased their lead to 22-7. Once again, being called on was the defense. They answered the call and forced a punt from the Wildcats. Gillis was hit on the next possession and fumbled for another strip sack. This time, the Wildcats made a statement drive after going six plays for 45 yards in 2:47. The Wildcats lead was 29-7.

Campbellsville started a march of its own. A pair of penalties on Bethel found CU in the opponent’s territory. Back-to-back competitions to Siler and Patrick Oden had Campbellsville inside of the redzone. On 2nd and eight from the 12, Sheperson made two would-be tacklers hit the turf and walk into the endzone. With a little over four minutes remaining in the third, CU trailed 29-14.

Campbellsville picked off Collazo III for the first time but wouldn’t gain possession. On the return, Bethel forced another fumble and retook control. CU’s defense continued to grind with a lot of time played on the field with another critical stop. On the ensuing punt, Bethel commited a foul and put Campbellsville with its best starting position inside BU territory. The Tigers chipped away to the ten-yard line. CU elected to for it on fourth down and turned it over on downs.

The Tigers were down 15 with 11:37 left in the contest. This was when Campbellsville made a stop and looked to cut the margin to single points. On the fourth down play, CU sold out for a block and committed a personal foul. This gave Bethel a fresh set of downs. Minutes later, Bethel struck through the air with a 44-yard passing touchdown.

The Tigers got the ball two more times during the late stages of the game, and each drive ended with a turnover. The score remained the same, and Bethel pulled out the 36-14 victory.

Gillis ended the afternoon going 28-41 for 320 yards. Siler caught ten passes for 123 yards. McCown caught three for 72 yards. Ellis Reed was the lone Campbellsville defender with ten tackles.

Campbellsville will now fix its focus for a battle of the Tigers. CU will travel to Georgetown on November 11th for a 1:30 p.m. ET kickoff.