Sept. 22 - BEAVER FALLS, Pa. – A touchdown by Geneva (Pa.) College (3-1) with under two minutes to play clinched a 28-13 victory over the Bethany College football team, who dropped to 2-1 this season with the setback.
The Bison looked like they would go three-and-out on the first drive, but junior RB Nick Neratka (Markleysburg, Pa./Uniontown) scooted 36 yards on a fake punt to give BC a first down at Geneva’s 37. However, the Bison would turn the ball over on downs four plays later and the Golden Tornadoes would march to their first score of the day. Driving 70 yards in 11 plays, Geneva took a 7-0 lead on Gerard Mushette’s one-yard TD run.
Geneva had a chance for more points on their next drive but a 27-yard field goal was wide right, keeping the score at 7-0. The Bison would get on the board early in the second quarter. Freshman WR Randy Rankin (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) returned a punt 17 yards to the Geneva 33. Three plays later, senior QB Milton Joyner (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse) rifled a 21-yard scoring pass to junior WR Taylor McNeil (Old Saybrook, Conn.). However, the extra point was blocked, leaving the Bison down 7-6.
The Golden Tornadoes responded on their ensuing drive. Quarterback Bobby Bondi rushed six times for 28 yards on a drive that covered 75 yards in 14 plays. Bondi would keep it himself for the score, as he went seven yards to paydirt and a 14-6 GC advantage midway through the second quarter.
Geneva added on to their lead with their next possession. After a solid punt return started the drive at the BC 40, they reached the end zone in six plays. Back-up QB David Girardi, who came in when Bondi was shaken up earlier in the drive, tried to sneak in from the one but fumbled. However, GC’s Matt Dean recovered in the end zone for the score to push the Golden Tornado lead to 21-6, which is where the score stood at halftime.
Midway through the third period, the Bison moved within a touchdown of the hosts. Starting at their 10, Bethany was aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty against Geneva, and later, kept the ball after a roughing the punter call moved the ball inside GC’s 40. On third and 10, Joyner hit sophomore WR Matt Cruse (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier) with a 20-yard pass to the 17. After an offside call against the defense and a one-yard rush, Joyner and Cruse hooked up again, this time from 11 yards for the touchdown and the extra point brought the Bison within eight at 21-13.
Geneva had chances on their next two drives to tack on an insurance score. They reached the Bethany three early in the fourth quarter, but turned it over on downs. After Bethany was forced to punt the ball back, the Golden Tornadoes reached the BC 13 before stalling out. A field goal attempt from 30 yards went wide right and the Bison were still within a score with 10 minutes to play.
The Bison seemed to seize the momentum, as they moved around midfield following consecutive completions from Joyner to junior WR Brad Zink (Washington Court House, Ohio/Miami Trace) covered 23 yards. But Joyner had his next pass intercepted by Geneva’s Richard Kolesar to stop the drive.
That’s when Geneva put the game away. They took more than six minutes off the clock with 13 plays covering 68 yards. The final play was a six-yard scoring run by Luke Duriancik with 1:37 remaining to give the Golden Tornadoes a 28-13 victory.
Bethany’s offense totaled 284 yards in the game, with Joyner throwing for 217 and two scores. Cruse was the top receiver with his third consecutive game of six receptions for 88 yards and a score. Defensively, the Bison were led by junior CB Brandon Zeman (Bridgeville, Pa./Chartiers Valley) with 12 tackles, including nine solos, and sophomore CB Michael Salters (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto-Rox) with nine stops.
The Golden Tornadoes, who rolled up 439 yards of offense, including 339 on the ground, were led by Dean with 102 yards rushing, while Matt Curry gained 91 yards on the ground. Defensively, LB Bradley Roman made eight tackles, including a sack and another for a loss, and also forced a fumble.
Bethany will return to action next Saturday with a road game at Thiel (Pa.) College. The contest will be the PAC opener for the Bison, while it will be the Tomcats second league game of the season. Thiel fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference with an 8-6 loss to Thomas More (Ky.) College Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.