The Bethlehem Christian Academy football team showed again Friday, Oct. 18, that it has made significant strides on defense since the start of the season. But the Knights weren’t able to generate enough offense in a 21-7 home loss to The Westfield School out of Perry.
Senior running back Michael Fitzpatrick accounted for all 21 of Westfield’s points, rushing for three touchdowns and kicking each of the team’s extra-point kicks. The tandem of Fitzpatrick (19 carries, 151 yards) and fellow senior running back Hunter Smallwood (29 carries, 193 yards) powered the Hornets (2-7), who completed just one pass for 6 yards in four attempts.
BCA, which managed just 40 rushing yards to go along with 176 passing yards, dropped to 1-6 on the season.
The major turning point in the game came in the third quarter. With the game tied 7-7, BCA’s defense forced a three-and-out to start the second half — capped by a Chad Norwood sack — and the Knights took over at their 49. A 24-yard pass from Ethan Guthas to Eli Parker got the ball down to the Hornets’ 19, but the drive would eventually stall when Eliel Saint-Louis was stopped on fourth down, a yard short of the first-down marker at the Westfield 8.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Fitzpatrick bounced off a tackle and rumbled 67 yards down to the BCA 25. He punched it in from 4 yards out a few plays later to put the Hornets up 14-7 with 5:21 left in the third.
The Knights were forced to punt again, and the Hornets went on a quick three-play, 60-yard drive to extend their lead. Smallwood ripped off a 49-yard run down to the 5, and Fitzpatrick scored standing up on the next play with 2:04 to go in the quarter.
The Knights, led by junior quarterback Ethan Guthas (10-of-25, 99 yards and a touchdown) moved the ball consistently in the first half but came away empty-handed on a couple of possessions. Their opening drive stalled at the Westfield 27 before they turned it over on downs. And later in the first quarter, after recovering a muffed punt return by Westfield on the Hornets’ 20, the Knights were only able to gain two yards, and Maggie Mauck’s 35-yard field goal try came up just short.
Westfield then went on a long drive that got down to the BCA 2, before the Knights’ defense stiffened and kept the visitors off the scoreboard. But, pinned deep, the Knights weren’t able to move the ball much, and Westfield took over at the BCA 25 following a punt and a Knights penalty. The Hornets needed just four plays to cover those 25 yards, with Fitzpatrick pounding it in the end zone from 4 yards away to make it 7-0 with 2:12 left in the half.
The Knights responded right away with their biggest offensive play of the night. Guthas threw a quick lateral pass to Jacob Adams, who pulled up and found Saint-Louis downfield for a 77-yard gain down to the Hornets’ 3. Two plays later, Adams hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Guthas, and Mauck’s extra point tied the game with 43 seconds to go before halftime.
The Knights will return to action Friday, Oct. 25, when they visit GISA Class AAA perennial powerhouse John Milledge Academy in Milledgeville.
W 0 7 14 0 — 21
B 0 7 0 0 — 7
W—Michael Fitzpatrick 4 run (Fitzpatrick kick)
B—Jacob Adams 4 pass from Ethan Guthas (Maggie Mauck kick)
W—Fitzpatrick 4 run (Fitzpatrick kick)
W—Fitzpatrick 5 run (Fitzpatrick kick)