Patriot football six point preview vs. Bethel

WILLIAMSBURG — The Patriots football team got things started the right way last weekend in Mid-South Conference play, knocking off the Bears of the University of Pikeville 24-13 to move to 4-0 on the season. Nearly midway through their regular season, the heads are continuing to turn to see what UC will do next.

Now, one of their toughest opponents will visit Williamsburg this weekend in the form of the 23rd-ranked Wildcats of Bethel University. Another Bluegrass Division foe, the winner of this game put themselves in the driver’s seat along with Lindsey Wilson to play for a divisional championship. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.

Here are six things to watch for in the game this weekend:

Control time of possession.

Bethel has done a solid job this season in putting points on the board. Scoring 35-plus points in each of their wins, last week was a big boulder in their path as they were held to just three points to Lindsey Wilson in the 58-3 loss. It was the least amount of points the Wildcats have scored since their 33-0 loss to Reinhardt back in September 2017. Don’t allow Bethel to attempt to take their aggression out on you. If you’re the Patriots, control the time of possession and you have a great chance to be victorious.

Slow down Mr. 24/7.

No. 24 De’Ontay Tate is the workhorse in the backfield for the Wildcats. He has the ability to break out for 100-plus yards easily, as he did already once this season and four times last year. Defensively, you must wrap him up and take him down early in the play because of his unpredictability after he breaks a tackle.

Use your size to your advantage.

The Patriots have a number of big men in a number of positions on the field. Use that to your advantage and either march the ball down the field or stop the Wildcats in their tracks. Holding Bethel to three-and-out will do nothing but boost your confidence on offense and help you push even harder and faster to find pay dirt.

Make another big play this week with your special teams unit.

A botched field goal last week led to a forced fumble and a scoop-and-score for the Patriots against Pikeville. That score ended up being a big momentum swing for UC and could easily do the same this week against the Wildcats. Whether it is a blocked punt or a breakaway return, use one of these to pull the momentum back to your side yet again or to keep it there for good.

Keep the Wildcat defense on their heels.

So far this season, the Patriots have done a great job of building a much more balanced offense than what they have shown in the past. By doing this, the opposition are unable to pack the box as they have in previous years to attempt to slow down a potent Patriot rushing offense. Continue to keep these teams on their heels and you will continue to make climbs in the conference and in the national spotlight.

Patriots looking for the signature win.

UC is looking for their first NAIA Top 25 win since defeating 24th-ranked Faulkner University on Sept. 8 last season. A victory Saturday moves UC to 5-0 and 2-0 in conference play heading into the back half of the schedule, which includes trips to Cumberland (Tenn.), Georgetown, and Thomas More. If the Patriots can continue to carry Uncle Mo-(mentum) with them for the ride, the second half of the schedule will be much more manageable.