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BETHANY FALLS IN PAC OPENER AT THIEL

Sept. 29 - GREENVILLE, Pa. – Thiel (Pa.) College (2-3, 1-1) rolled up 425 rushing yards, as they scored a 37-13 victory over the Bethany College football team (2-2, 0-1) Saturday afternoon in the Bison’s PAC opener.

After a Bison punt on their first possession, the Tomcats drove down deep into BC territory before stalling out. However, Bethany caught a break when a 35-yard field goal sailed wide right, keeping the game scoreless.

The Bison were not as fortunate later in the quarter. After forcing Thiel to punt, BC fumbled the return and the hosts recovered at the Bethany 28. Two plays later, Dan Hess burst into the end zone form the two and the Tomcats were in front 7-0 with 13 seconds to play in the first quarter.

The Bison had an answer on their next drive. Junior WR Taylor McNeil (Old Saybrook, Conn.) returned the kickoff 33 yards to start the Bison off at their 40. Four straight carries by freshman RB Marcus Santini (Seminole, Fla.) netted 40 yards and following a penalty against Thiel, freshman RB John Rhodes (Garrettsville, Ohio/Garfield) took a handoff and rolled 15 yards for the Bison touchdown. The extra point was wide, leaving the Bison down 7-6.

Thiel’s response was just as quick as Bethany’s. On the first play following the kickoff, Tomcat RB Steve Minton burst through the right side and down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown jaunt to push TC’s advantage to 14-6. The lead would grow to 17-6 just before halftime when Sammy Koyl drilled a 25-yard field goal with three seconds left, capping a 12-play, 57-yard drive.

On their first drive of the second half, Thiel would score again, as Minton ended an 88-yard drive with a 23-yard scoring run off the left side to make it 24-6 Tomcats. Thiel was driving again on their next possession, but a fumble at the Bison 25 was recovered by Bethany senior DB R.J. Faldowski (Harrsiville, Ohio/Buckeye Local). He picked it up and ran 26 yards before he was brought down at the Thiel 49. On the next play, McNeil took a handoff on an end-around and scampered 49 yards for the BC score to bring the Green and White back within 11 at 24-13.

Bethany would not be able to move any closer however, as turnovers set up two of the final Thiel scores. After the Bison defense forced another Thiel punt, BC started at their 13. Bethany fumbled on the next play and Thiel’s Robert Hughes scooped it up and went 11 yards for the touchdown and a 31-13 Tomcat lead.

In the fourth quarter, Thiel added two field goals from 23 and 35 yards. One was set up by a long punt return and the other was aided by a Tomcat interception. Bethany had one more chance to put points on the board, as they drove 50 yards in 10 plays, but an INT, the fourth Bethany turnover of the game, stopped the drive inside the TC 10 and Thiel finished up the 37-13 win.

The Bison were held to 218 total yards on the day, although their ground game was responsible for 192 of those. Santini gained 78 yards on 11 carries, while McNeil had 49 yards on his scoring run and Rhodes totaled 48 yards on seven carries. Bethany’s passing game could not find a groove in the game, as senior QB Milton Joyner (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse) threw for just 26 yards. Two of his three completions in the contest went to McNeil for 25 yards. On the day, McNeil finished with 107 total yards (33 kick return, 49 rush, 25 receiving).

Leading the Bison defense in tackles for the game was senior LB Chance Kildow (Sistersville, W.Va./Tyler Consolidated) with 12 stops, while junior SS Dante Fuscardo (Follansbee, W.Va./Brooke), senior LB Kellen Lieb (Farmington, Pa./Uniontown) and senior LB Bill Wineberg (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) all had eight hits.

Thiel’s rushing attack featured two players over 100 yards, including Minton, who set a new single-game school record with 238 yards and two scores. Hess compiled 150 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown as well. Pacing the Tomcat defense was Chris Lorber with eight tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and one forced fumble.

The Bison will try to even their PAC record next week when they travel to Grove City (Pa.) College for the last leg of a three-game road trip. The Wolverines dropped to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the PAC with a 14-7 loss at Westminster (Pa.) College Saturday afternoon. Kickoff at GCC’s Robert E. Thorn Field is set for 2 p.m.