Bethany off and run­ning

The Bron­chos of­fense is on a roll be­hind the dy­namic run­ning duo of quar­ter­back Sam Brandt and run­ning back Pay­ton Har­rell.

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY JAMES POLING

BETHANY -- Nurs­ing a 16-13 lead late in the fourth quar­ter, Bethany needed three yards on fourth down in­side King­fisher’s red zone.

But when quar­ter­back Sam Brandt took the snap, he saw five King­fisher de­fend­ers swarm­ing him. And his coach, Jon Arthur, had al­ready moved on to what he thought needed to hap­pen on the next play.

“I was al­ready think­ing about how our de­fense was go­ing to have to stop them driv­ing 80 yards in three min­utes,” Arthur said.

But Brandt im­prob­a­bly es­caped the over-pur­su­ing swarm of King­fisher de­fend­ers with a spin move back to­ward the mid­dle of the field. One King­fisher player re­mained be­tween him and the game-clinch­ing first down, but run­ning back Pay­ton Har­rell knocked the de­fender off his feet as the sopho­more quar­ter­back ran 16 yards for the first down.

In a game where Har­rell rushed 38 times for 255 yards and two touch­downs, it’s his block for his pre­dom­i­nantly run­ning quar­ter­back that was key in Bethany’s 30-13 home win Fri­day night.

“I saw five guys com­ing at me,” Brandt said. “I have no idea how I got out of that. Pey­ton threw me a big block as well as some of my line­men.”

It was only nat­u­ral that Har­rell (two-yard run af­ter Brandt’s fourth­down con­ver­sion) and Brandt (38-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn) scored the game-clinch­ing touch­downs in the fi­nal two min­utes.

The run­ning com­bi­na­tion of Har­rell and Brandt, who fin­ished with 105 yards rush­ing, saw one take a lead­ing role in each half. Har­rell rushed 24 times for 198 yards in the first half, and Bethany used its ex­plo­sive plays to pres­sure King­fisher’s de­fense and jump to a 16-13 half­time lead.

But King­fisher ad­justed by putting ex­tra men in the box to start the sec­ond half. A pre­vi­ously wide-open of­fen­sive bat­tle in the first half turned into a de­fen­sive tus­sle.

With Har­rell find­ing no room to run, Bethany turned to Brandt’s run­ning to keep the clock tick­ing while mov­ing the ball enough to keep King­fisher in poor field po­si­tion.

“They def­i­nitely stacked the box in the sec­ond half,” Har­rell said. “We started giv­ing it to Sam and started get­ting a few good runs.”

Arthur, who is in his first year as head coach, has guided his team to a 3-0 start. Bethany en­ters dis­trict play ranked No. 5 in The Ok­la­homan’s Class 4A rank­ings.

Nei­ther of Bethany’s top run­ners has more than a few months of reps with Brandt un­der cen­ter.

Har­rell, a se­nior, missed the end of the 2016 sea­son with an in­jury, and Brandt played as a re­serve run­ning back in his first sea­son.

But the chem­istry the two have de­vel­oped in a short pe­riod has Bethany’s rush­ing of­fense rolling as it looks to win a dis­trict ti­tle.

“Play­ing with Pay­ton is awe­some,” Brandt said “We al­ways have our laughs in the back­field. Be­ing a se­nior, he has been in the sit­u­a­tion be­fore like the one tonight. He is al­ways there for me to pick me up.”

[PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Bethany’s Pay­ton Har­rell (30) car­ries the ball dur­ing Fri­day’s game be­tween Bethany and King­fisher at the SNU foot­ball sta­dium in Bethany.

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