NEWPORT NEWS—It's been the team's philosophy all season, and Bethel's defense brought its "sledgehammer" to Friday night's beating of Denbigh at Todd Stadium.
The Bruins' bruising and ball-happy defense capitalized on seven first-half turnovers — five coming in the first quarter — to breeze to a 56-0 blanking for Denbigh's homecoming game.
"That's what we talk about — bringing the sledgehammer," Bruins quarterback Rashad Manley said. "The goal is to dominate everyone we play."
Both Manley and backfield mate Ronnie Saunders sat out for the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth, but still managed to combined for 195 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns. Manley, who finished with one irrelevant interception, completed 7 of 10 passes for 129 yards.
"There is never a perfect game," Bethel coach Jeff Nelson said. "But we want our defense to score and our offense to score — that's our mindset."
Denzel Wise got his first start for Denbigh at quarterback, but had a game to forget. He accounted for two of three total fumbles and all four interceptions, which Bethel converted into 28 points.
"We had a lot of young guys out there," Patriots coach Marcellus Harris said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. There were definitely some nerves."
Wise developed his serious case of fumblitis early in the first quarter, when the sophomore fumbled on his own 30-yard line with 9:33 remaining. It took the Bethel spread offense, steered by Manley and Saunders, four plays to score its second touchdown of the game, taking a 13-0 lead on Manley's 1-yard quarterback keeper just over a minute later.
Another 60 seconds passed and Wise dropped the ball for a second time, as Bethel capped a three play, 13-yard drive on an identical Manley draw, this time 10 yards from the goal line.
Sophomore running back Shequille Keyes continued to exhibit jitters, as he was smacked at the line of scrimmage resulting in the third fumble of the game. Again, Bethel took little time cashing in on the miscue, as they marched 28 yards on two plays, the second being a 7-yard touchdown run by Saunders to extend the lead, 28-0.
Bethel's longest scoring drive of the game — an eight-play, 85-yard drive — came with nine minutes left in the half, as Manley skated 11-yards into the end zone untouched.
"The key (tonight) was our offensive line," Saunders said. "They came to play."
"We are now in the fifth week of the season, and we are starting to gain some momentum," Nelson said. "But there are still some things we need to work on."
BETHEL 56, DENBIGH 0
|Bethel 282107 — 56|
|Denbigh 0000 — 0|
Bet: Manley 1 run (Baker kick)
Bet: Manley 10 run (Baker kick)
Bet: Saunders 7 run (Baker kick)
Bet: Manley 11 run (Baker kick)
Bet: Peyton 66 interception return (Baker kick)
Bet: Gibson 42 interception return (Baker kick)
Bet: McBride 14 run (Baker kick)