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Concordia upsets Bethel

MCKENZIE, Tenn. — Concordia quarterback Ken Johnson hit receiver John Halman for a 47-yard touchdown that highlighted a milestone 23-18 win over No. 6 Bethel on Saturday.

“The win was huge,” said Concordia coach Shepherd Skanes. “We came up here and did what nobody thought we can do but us.”

Concordia started the game with a bang. Johnson showed he has fully recovered from a knee injury that ended his 2007 season with a 16-yard run and 33-yard touchdown pass to Halman on the Hornets’ opening drive.

“It’s just so good to have Ken Johnson back in the saddle,” said Skanes. We waited eight months for this.”

Bethel tied the game at 6 in the second quarter. A 54-yard scamper by Justin Woodward put the Wildcats at the Concordia 5-yard line. Four plays later, Chad Lamping hit Joevaris Carter for a 10-yard touchdown. Like the Hornets, Bethel missed the extra points.

Concordia answered on its next drive to take a lead into the locker room. An 8-play drive ended with a 2-yard Johnson touchdown run, giving Concordia a 13-6 lead at the half.

The teams traded field goals, and then Bethel tied the game on a 3-yard Lamping-to-Jeremy Akins touchdown pass in the third quarter.

Once again, the Hornets immediately fired back. Sometimes gambles do pay off.

With his team facing a fourth-and-4 situation at the Bethel 47 early in the fourth quarter, Skanes rolled the dice.

Skanes said he noticed in film study that the Wildcats went to a 46 defense on third downs, which leaves them vulnerable in the secondary.

Johnson and Halman hooked up to put the Hornets ahead 23-16.

“We caught them in positions we expected them to be in,” said Skanes.

The Wildcats didn’t go down without a fight. Bethel pinned Concordia deep in its own territory, then Halman — who doubles as a punter/kicker — fell on a fumble in his own end zone for a safety.

Bethel got the ball back and drove to the Concordia 12-yard line. The Hornets’ defense held, and Johnson kneeled down to run out the clock.

Though the win was huge, Skanes says his team is already focused on next week’s contest with Livingstone College in Greenville, S.C.

“We told them once we get on the bus that the game’s over with,” said Skanes. “Our mind’s on Livingstone.”