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BETHANY ERUPTS FOR 48-27 VICTORY AT GENEVA

Sept. 24 - BEAVER FALLS, Pa. – The Bethany College football team exploded for 34 first-half points and amassed 445 yards of total offense in coming away with a 48-27 victory at Geneva Saturday night, the Bison’s first win over the Golden Tornadoes since 1973.

A big kickoff return set up Geneva on the BC 20 to start the game, but they would be forced to settle for a 35-yard field goal. The Bethany offense went right to work on its first possession, marching 67 yards in 12 plays and finding paydirt with a 20-yard scoring pass from sophomore QB Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) to senior WR Alex Evans (Washington, Pa.).

The Bison lead grew to 14-3 just a short time later. Sophomore safety Jamaan Webb (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) recovered a fumble at the Golden Tornado eight and three plays later, senior RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) bulled in from a yard out.

The scoring really picked up in the second quarter, as Geneva (0-4, 0-2) capped an 80-yard drive with a 35-yard scoring pass from Rocco Collavecchia to Corey O’Patchen off a halfback option. Bethany (2-1, 1-1) would score the next two times it touched the ball, first on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Grimard to sophomore RB Nico Irizarry (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) and then midway through the period on a two-yard scoring run from Walker to make it 27-10.

Geneva posted one more score before halftime, as QB Zack Hayward tossed a 31-yard TD strike to Vince Larson on fourth down to make it a 27-17 spread. It looked like that would be the score at the break, but Geneva was forced to punt with 20 seconds left in the half. Evans hauled in the punt and took it 65 yards to the end zone for a huge score with two seconds left on the clock to send the Green and White into intermission with a 34-17 lead.

The 34 points was the most scored in an opening half by Bethany since they recorded 49 in a 66-7 triumph over Saint Vincent in 2007. That was the same year a Bison player returned a punt for a score, as Matt Dahle took one back 62 yards for a TD in a win over Thomas More in October of ’07.

The scoring barrage continued for Bethany after halftime. A big run by Walker on the first play of the half helped BC need just four plays to go 53 yards. The final yard came from Walker for his third scoring run of the game and 43rd of his career.

The final Bison points came in the fourth quarter when Grimard broke off a 15-yard scoring run to extend the margin to 48-17. Geneva managed 10 points in the final minute, first on a 35-yard field goal and then a 27-yard touchdown pass from Collavecchia to AJ Delmonico with just three seconds left in the game.

The stars were numerous for Bethany offensively. Evans entered the game as the PAC leader in all-purpose yards and added to his total with five catches for 108 yards and a score, the 65-yard punt return and a 17-yard kickoff return for 190 yards. Walker’s three scores were complimented by 70 rushing yards and two receptions for 56 yards and Irizarry turned in 63 yards on the ground and three catches for 53 more and his score.

Grimard engineered the attack, as he was 13-for-17 through the air for 274 yards and two scores, while chipping in 49 rushing yards and one trip to the end zone.

The Bison defense was highlighted by freshman CB Miguel Alicea (Columbus, Ohio/Westerville South) making seven tackles and sophomore DL Zach Burton (Hurricane, W.Va.) totaling five tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Now 2-0 on the road this season, Bethany will try to make it 3-for-3 next week with a trip to Waynesburg next Saturday. The Bison knocked off the Yellow Jackets 24-17 on their home turf last year, but Waynesburg has started the year 2-0 in conference play, including a 32-26 triumph at Grove City Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.