Bethlehem Academy football defense

The Bethlehem Academy defense held Fillmore Central to 13 yards rushing on 16 carries in Friday’s 35-14 win in Harmony. (Mike Randleman/Faribault Daily News)

The Bethlehem Academy Cardinals doubled up the Fillmore Central Falcons both in score and yardage in a commanding first win of the season.

The host Falcons (0-3) pulled within 20-14 at the end of the third quarter, but a 21-0 run to close the game gave the Cardinals (1-2) a 35-14 victory Friday in Harmony.

BA coach Jim Beckmann liked the resiliency his team showed after a couple of large margins of defeat to open 2019.

Mistakes were limited and BA established dominance by outgaining FC 371 to 167 with a time of possession advantage of 31:15 to 16:45.

“It felt like we were in control from the get-go,” Beckmann said. “Our guys came out and played hard. We still made some mental errors, but they didnt get down on themselves and kept plugging away.”

For the second straight game, BA’s Josh Oathoudt produced an early turnover. He recovered a fumble on the opening kick-off last week against Rushford-Peterson and Friday intercepted FC quarterback Zach Haugerud.

BA took over at its 48 and marched 52 yards in 4:34.

Second-year starting quarterback Jack Jandro had one of his best games as a Cardinal. He found receiver Spencer Ell for a 42-yard completion on third-and-11. That kept the drive alive for Jandro to run it in on third-and-three for the four. Elliot Smith made the extra point.

Jandro finished 13-for-20 passing for 160 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“We were really able to spread the ball around,” Beckmann said of an offense featuring four players with multiple carries and four with multiple receptions. “Jack ran for a touchdown. It helps when you have to defend four guys. Jack had a really good night passing and our receivers ran really good routes.”

The Cards held the Falcons to 10 yards of offense in the first quarter and maintained their 7-0 lead.

Starting at the FC 41 on the last play of the first quarter, BA drove down and scored on a three-yard Brady Strodtman rush. Jandro was 5-for-5 for 46 yards on the drive. Smith’s kick was good to make it 14-0 with 7:12 until halftime.

FC went three-and-out on its next drive.

Jandro threw an interception on BA’s ensuing drive but atoned for it on defense with an interception of his own to kill an FC drive that reached the BA 20 on a fourth-and-12.

The Cards didn’t do anything with the opening drive of the second half.

Over half of the Falcons’ total offense came on an 84-yard touchdown pass to Grant Kennedy on second-and-10. The extra point by Theo Lehmann was good.

Jandro had the response with a 68-yard touchdown run with 4:29 left in the third.

The exciting quarter continued as FC fullback Hadrian Williams barrelled 68 yards for a kickoff return for a touchdown. Lehmann’s kick was good to make it 20-14.

FC had BA on the ropes and forced a punt with 2:07 left in the third.

Beckmann liked his team’s sense of calm in the first late-game tense moments of the season.

The BA defense stood strong to allow no yards on a three-and-out.

“The defense played very disciplined,” Beckmann said. “Our d-ends and d-tackles really shut the run down. Our d-backs did a really nice job covering their receivers. We had three interceptions and a couple more that got through the hands of our linebackers.”

A punt worked just fine instead of an interception thanks to the BA offense.

Starting at its 24, with 1:06 left in the third, the Cardinals pushed it down field to score with 10:21 left in the game. Freshman tight end Charlie King hauled in his first varsity touchdown on a 19-yard play. A two-point conversion was good on a halfback pass from Oathoudt to Linnemann to make it 28-14.

Oathoudt recorded his second 100-plus yard game of the season with 106 on 32 carries.

Needing a score, FC picked up a first down on a defensive pass interference but the drive soon ceased at its 37. The Falcons called timeout with 8:31 on a fourth-and-three that as snuffed out by Jandro to tackle Grant Kennedy for a loss of two.

BA bled the clock and advanced to the FC 26 before turning it over on downs.

With time running out, an offensive personal foul on the Falcons pushed them back to their own 6 and killed the drive.

A short punt gave BA the ball at the FC 29. A 22-yard rush on fourth-and-10 by Oathoudt kept the drive alive and allowed him to run in for a four-yard score with 4:04 left to put the cherry on top. Smith put through his third extra point in as many tries.

The pass-happy Falcons finished 7-for-27 passing with most of the 154 yards coming on the long touchdown. They had three runners combine for 13 yards on 16 carries.

BA put together its most complete performance against a team coming from a talent-rich region of the state for small-school football.

“When you come to play one of these tough southeastern Minnesota teams, you expect a good game,” Beckmann said. “It’s kind of shocking these guys are 0-3. They’re a good team with good players and good coaches.”

Both teams benefitted from FC’s new crowned playing surface for 2019, which allowed for the grass field to drain well after a rainy Thursday.

FC’s losses were to Class A No. 3 United South Central and to Goodhue. USC moved to 3-0 with a 33-0 win over Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons and Goodhue dropped to 2-1 with an 8-7 loss to Rushford-Peterson.

R-P beat BA and is 2-1. BA’s other loss came to A No. 6 Mayer Lutheran (3-0), which pulled away from a two-point halftime lead to beat Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 55-12.

BA returns home to Bruce Smith Field 7 p.m. Friday to face Medford (2-1) in the Battle for the Paddle rivalry game that will double as a Tackle Cancer fundraising event. The Tigers are coming off a 69-7 win Friday vs. Winona Cotter.

Fillmore Central, Bethlehem Academy

B — 7 7 6 15

F — 0 0 14 0

BA offensive statistics — Passing: Jack Jandro 13-20, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT … Rushing: Josh Oathoudt 32-106, TD; Jack Jandro 8-93, 2 TD; Brady Strodtman 6-10, TD; Lucas Linnemann 2-2 … Receiving: Spencer Ell 4-76; Charlie King 4-65, TD; Linnemann 3-14; Oathoudt 2-5

BA defensive statistics — Tackles: Riley Kangas 5.5; Strodtman 5; Ell, Jandro 3; Elliot Smith 2.5; Aiden Tobin, Ben Cohen 1.5; King, Hunter Tutak 1; Jack Ernste, Andrew Donahue .5 … Tackles for loss: Jandro 2; Strodtman 1.5; Kangas, Ell 1; Smith, Cohen, Donahue .5 … Interceptions: Oathoudt 2; Jandro 1

BA special teams — Kicking: Smith 0-0 FG, 3-3 XP … Punting: Ell 4-147 (one inside 20) … Kick return: Tobin 1-18

FC offensive statistics — Passing: Zach Haugerud 7-27, 154 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT … Rushing: Hadrian Williams 5-15; Carson Kiehne 7-4; Haugerud 4-(-6) … Receiving: Grant Kennedy 4-87, TD; Kiehne 1-38; Cory Brown 1-24; Williams 1-5

Team statistics — Total offense: B 371, F 167 … Total plays: B 68, F 43 … Time of possession: B 31:15, F 16:45 … Rushing: B 48-211, F 16-13 … Passing: B 160, F 154 … Turnovers: F 3, B 2 … First downs: B 19, F 4 … Third down: B 7-17, F 1-13 … Fourth down: B 3-4, F 1-4 … Penalties: B 7-65, F 6-65

Reach Sports Editor Mike Randleman at 507-333-3119 or on Twitter @fdnmike.

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