NEWTON — Little will be credited to Michael Hyde's 12-yard catch with a about five minutes remaining in No. 16 Friends' 15-7 victory over Bethel.
But the play is a summary of the Falcons' game Saturday night.
On third-and-7, quarterback Tim Rozzell forced a pass into double coverage to Hyde, who somehow gained control of the ball over both defenders. On his way down, Hyde focused on keeping his feet in-bounds for the first down.
That's the way it was for the Falcons most of the night, stumbling on offense. But when it needed a big play, Friends regained focus enough to pick up its third win of the season.
"We had a couple of mental letdowns, but we never really gave up," Rozzell said. "We had a lot of letdowns and then we'd just come back and do what we needed to do to get the win."
Thanks to a stellar defensive effort that kept the Threshers under 200 yards of offense, it didn't take much for the Falcons' offense.
Friends turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, but its defense conceded two first downs and 44 yards in the first half. Rozzell countered two interceptions with two touchdowns throws in the first half for a 12-0 lead.
"I'm very proud of how the 'D' came out to play," said Jordan Highley, who finished with a sack. "Our offense struggled a little bit, but we never get down on them. We just tell them, 'Hey, we're going to get you the ball right back.' "
A 47-yard touchdown pass by Bethel cut the lead to 12-7 with nine minutes left in the third quarter, but Drew Johnson gave Friends an eight-point cushion with a 25-yard field goal a minute later.
Bethel would threaten only once more, driving inside Friends' territory in the fourth quarter. But on a third down, Dexter Davis delivered a punishing blow to Bethel quarterback Garrett Hiebert for a sack that ended the rally.
"I just used my quickness to rush the middle and just hit him," said Davis, who finished with three of Friends' 13 tackles for loses. "It felt pretty good."
Next drive, Hyde's first down helped move the chains and run out the clock for the Falcons. The Falcons certainly won't gain any style points with the win, but they passed another test.
"And to have it on the road and in a setting like this, I'm pleased," Friends coach Monty Lewis said. "This will harden us. It will galvanize us. It will toughen us up for tests down the road."
Friends (3-1) 6 6 3 0—15 Bethel (0-4) 0 0 7 0— 7
F — Franklin 37 pass from Rozzell (kick blocked)
F — Pierce 19 pass from Rozzell (run failed)
B — Voth-Gaeddert 47 pass from Hiebert (Scherling kick)
F — Johnson 25 FG
Rushing—Friends, Craddock 8-34, Trotter 12-25, Bolander 5-7, Greenbaum 1-5, Hyde 1-4, Team 2-(-2), Rozzell 16-(-5). Bethel, Abell 19-199, Team 1-0, Hiebert 10-(-28).
Passing—Friends, Rozzell 18-31-263-2. Bethel, Hiebert 8-24-145-1, Vail 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Friends, Hyde 9-159, Pierce 3-49, Franklin 2-35, Sell 2-17, O'Nelio 1-3, Trotter 1-0. Bethel, Voth-Gaeddert 2-66, Francis 3-62, Abell 1-14, Newhouse 2-3.