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BETHANY HOSTS SAINT VINCENT SATURDAY IN “THE GREEN GAME"

Nov. 12 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany football team will close out the 2008 season Saturday afternoon when they host Saint Vincent in “The Green Game” at Bison Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

The Bison (2-7, 1-5) enter their final game after running into a buzzsaw last weekend at #19 Washington & Jefferson, who scored a 54-7 victory over Bethany to keep their NCAA at-large playoff chances alive. BC, who was held to just 151 total yards in the defeat, scored their only touchdown of the game late in the second quarter on a two-yard run by sophomore WR Randy Rankin (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands).

“W&J needed a win, came out and played great,” said Bison head coach Tim Weaver. “I also think it was the first time all year we came out tentative and timid against a playoff-caliber team. We’ve battled like crazy in games against that type of competition all season. But give them credit. They knew what they needed to do and they came out and executed.”

Bethany came into the season with hopes of improving a defense that has ranked towards the bottom of the conference in many categories through recent years. Unfortunately for the Green and White, the improvements haven’t come, which is going to lead extensive work in retooling the defense in the offseason.

“Our defense hasn’t made the strides we needed, planned and expected to make this season,” said Weaver. “There are only two ways to fix that: make your current players better and recruit better players. But we are also going to blow up our defense in the offseason. Everything from personnel to schematics will go under the microscope because it’s not where it needs to be.”

Although the defense hasn’t come around like he hoped, Weaver was pleased with a pair of developments throughout the 2008 campaign, with both giving BC something to build on for next season.

“I really liked two things that occurred during the season,” said Weaver. “The first was being competitive in nearly every game, even the ones we lost. Our players have raised their expectations and go into every game expecting to win. Our first two years, our losses weren’t close, but this team came out from the start with a real competitive edge and gave ourselves a chance to win nearly every game.

"The other thing I am pleased with is our steady and improving quarterback play,” said Weaver. “We inherited Brent (Owens, starter in ’06) and Milton (Joyner, starter in ’07) and they played very well. Now all the QBs on the roster are guys we recruited and will be back next year. We feel really, really good about our future at that position.”

The Bearcats of Saint Vincent bring a 1-8 record into Saturday’s “Green Game.” After suffering through a 0-10 season in 2007, their first year of football since 1962, SVC has been much more competitive this season. Their average margin of defeat a year ago was more than 38 points, including a 66-7 defeat at Bethany. The Bison set school-records for total yards (739) and rushing yards (482), while holding the Bearcats to 117 yards.

However, this year Saint Vincent’s eight setbacks have come by an average of 22.3 points, which includes single-digit losses to Westminster (24-31) and Waynesburg (12-21). SVC was off last week and their last game was Nov. 1, a 36-22 loss against Thiel. The lone victory for the Bearcats this year was a 23-22 triumph at Gallaudet on Sept. 13.

“Saint Vincent is by far the most improved team in the conference,” said Weaver. “It’s night and day when looking at them from last year. Like us, they’ve been competitive with a lot of teams in the conference this year. They deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve been able to do.”

Although the Bearcats rank eighth in the conference in points allowed (35.9), they have allowed only two teams to score 40 or more this season, as compared to nine last year. Linebacker Anthony Johnson leads the team with 72 tackles, including 11 for loss, and DB Antoine Barber has 54 tackles and three interceptions, including a pair he’s run back for touchdowns, to lead a unit that Weaver says likes to blitz early and often.

“They like to come after you and blitz a great deal,” said Weaver. “They’ve recruited active guys in the front seven, have athletic players in the back and look to keep the pressure on you all day.”

The Saint Vincent offense continues to make strides and will be led by freshman QB Kevin Corona. He’s completed 70-of-125 through the air for 844 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. Five difference receivers have caught 10 or more balls, led by WR Rob James with 17 catches for 150 yards and two scores and TE Jake Gabelt with 15 receptions for 197 yards and three TDs. The running attack is paced by the diminutive Jairus Marrow (5-6, 160 pounds), who has rushed for 341 yards on 48 carries (7.1 average) and three of the team’s four rushing touchdowns. According to Weaver, his defense has had to prepare for the many different looks the Bearcat offense can show.

“They are very difficult to prepare for because they do so much offensively, maybe more than anyone else in the PAC,” said Weaver. “They have a dangerous back in Marrow and a dangerous receiver in James, who are home run guys. They are aggressive and run trick play after trick play to keep you on your toes. You end up being limited in what you can do defensively because they do so much.”

The contest has been dubbed “The Green Game” as part of PAC Rivalry Week. Other Rivalry games in the conference include the “Mercer County Cup” contest between Grove City (5-4) and Thiel (2-7), the “PAC Backyard Brawl” between Washington & Jefferson (8-1) and Waynesburg (5-4) and “The Game” between Westminster (5-4) and Geneva (4-5).

PAC champion Thomas More (7-2) plays their regular season finale every season against Mount St. Joseph from Cincinnati in the “Bridge Bowl”.