"We couldn't get it going," HU coach Donovan Rose said. "That was just a good old-fashioned butt-whipping. We've got to take it and learn from it."
The loss kept the Wildcats (9-2, 6-1 MEAC) on track for a conference crown with a win next week while dropping the Pirates (4-7, 4-3) back into the middle of the pack.
"We're a good football team," said Wildcats coach Brian Jenkins, whose team was coming off a 27-24 loss to Norfolk State. "There was a lot of people that doubted us after last week, (but) we had a talk as a team, and we knew what we needed to do."
Bethune's single-game rushing total is the third-best in FCS play this season. The Wildcats' single-game rushing record is 561 yards, set in 1973.
HU true freshman quarterback Bryan Bailey, given the keys to a new-look spread system after special teams coordinator Michael Villagrana took over as the Pirates' play-caller, went 8 of 20 for 55 yards and two interceptions a week after throwing for 226 yards in HU's 29-21 win against N.C. Central.
The Pirates had 161 rushing yards and converted just 1 of 11 third downs.
"We've been running the ball a lot these last couple of games," said HU fullback Marcus Hampton, who scored the Pirates' only touchdown with 5:26 left in the game. "We just really beat ourselves today. They got out to an early jump, and we started out bad."
Hampton had 4 yards in the first quarter and 76 in the first half against a Wildcats defense giving up a league-best 16 points and 254 yards per game. The Pirates went three-and-out on their first three possessions and threw an interception on the fourth before finally picking up a first down on Hampton's 14-yard run on the second play of a drive that began with 11:03 to play in the second quarter.
After losing 7 yards on the game's first possession, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on their next two drives to go up 14-0 with 3:14 to play in the first quarter. Jackie Wilson hit Cary White for a 6-yard TD, then scored on a 5-yard keeper.
The Pirates got on the board with a 34-yard field goal by Anthony Prevost 3:49 before halftime, but the Wildcats immediately answered with an 84-yard kickoff return that led to a TD 1:26 later.
HU opened the third quarter with Jorrian Washington's 60-yard run, but settled for another 34-yard field goal.
The Pirates then forced fumbles on back-to-back Wildcat possessions, but couldn't convert either turnover into points.
"The defense got us the ball back," Hampton said. "We've got to punch it in."
After HU turned the ball over on downs following its second fumble recovery, the Wildcats needed just four plays to go 48 yards, taking a 28-6 lead and complete control of the game on Michael Jones' 30-yard run with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
"It's a hard one to swallow, but they were the better team," Rose said. "They dominated."