Bethel football coach Mike Moore didn't have a problem summing up the relief he felt after his team picked up its first win of the season last Saturday at undefeated, No. 25-ranked Bethany.
"I told my wife that'd I'd never been so happy to be 1-4 in my entire life," Moore said.
The Threshers, who shared the KCAC title in 2006 and 2007 with Friends, had a month of agony to open the season, including back-to-back losses on the last play of the game to Southern Nazarene and Kansas Wesleyan, and an eight-point setback to No. 14 Friends.
Oh, and they had to open the season against No. 9 Ottawa.
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"I've never, in 30 years either playing or coaching football, been associated with one, much less two games where I looked up at the clock, saw all zeroes and thought we won," Moore said, "and then we end up losing."
Against Southern, the Crimson Storm missed a field goal as time expired, but Bethel was called for a defensive delay of game penalty after officials said one of the Threshers was trying to simulate a snap count. Southern moved up five yards and nailed the field goal.
Against KWU, officials decided to put one second back on the clock after time appeared to have run out, and the Coyotes connected on a 45-yard Hail Mary touchdown for the win.
Finally, last week in Lindsborg, Bethel forced three turnovers in the last 10 minutes to rally from a 16-3 deficit for the win.
"It was great to get to see our team take that step, to mature to the point where they could win a game like that," Moore said.
One bright spot for the Threshers this year, despite the losses, has been the play of defensive lineman James McCartney, a Hesston product.
The 6-foot, 300-pound McCartney won KCAC co-defensive player of the year honors last season and is having another stellar campaign, currently ranked third in the league with 10 tackles for loss.
McCartney's exploits have also drawn the interest of several NFL teams, with the Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans coming during the spring, and the Vikings returning this fall to watch McCartney practice.
"I'd definitely like a shot to play professionally, whether it was in the NFL or in Arena Football," McCartney said. "I know I've got the size, and I think my strength matches up pretty well."