Nov. 10 - WASHINGTON, Pa. – The Bethany College football team went toe-to-toe with undefeated Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College for nearly three quarters, but the fifth-ranked Presidents (10-0, 6-0) scored 42 of the game’s final 49 points to record a 77-39 victory over the Bison (4-6, 2-4).
The scoring started from the very beginning, as Bethany used six plays to drive 51 yards on the opening drive of the game to score on a three-yard touchdown run by senior RB Rodney Heard (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse), his first career TD. W&J stormed right back by going 66 yards in five plays and tied the game at 7-7 on an eight-yard scoring pass by QB Bobby Swallow to WR Ryan Church.
Both teams would score on their second drives as well, as senior QB Milton Joyner (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse) hit junior WR Brad Zink (Washington Court House, Ohio/Miami Trace) for a two-yard TD pass. However the snap was high on the extra point and Bethany’s lead was just 13-7. The Presidents would answer immediately by going 61 yards on six plays, with the final 16 coming on a fourth down play when Swallow tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to RB Kevin Mathews.
Bethany reclaimed the lead on the first play of the second quarter, as Joyner hit senior TE Mike Elias (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) with an 11-yard TD toss to cap a 73-yard drive. The extra point was good, giving BC a 20-14 lead they would hold for a little over two minutes. W&J marched down the field and took the lead back when Swallow connected with Church again, this time for an 11-yard scoring pass to slide the hosts back in front, 21-20.
The Bison were stopped for the first time in the game when they failed on a fourth and short in W&J territory. Bethany’s defense would also step up, forcing the Presidents to punt after they reached midfield. The BC special teams then delivered a big play when junior DB Randy Gibson (Charleston, W.Va./Riverside) blocked the kick and the Green and White was in business at the W&J 40.
However, two plays after the blocked punt, a Joyner throw was picked off by W&J’s Ryan Mullen. Three plays later, President FB Brendan O’Mahoney broke off a 31-yard touchdown run to extend the President lead to 28-20.
The teams would exchange punts before Bethany added another touchdown right before halftime, as they needed just 56 seconds to go 60 yards in five plays. Joyner lofted a 29-yard touchdown pass to freshman WR Eric Terrell (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeastern) in the right corner of the end zone for the score with just a minute to go. The extra point hit off the upright, leaving the Bison down 28-26 going into halftime.
The fireworks continued right out of the gate in the second half. After a solid kick return, W&J went 48 yards in five plays, with Swallow hitting WR Tom McCafferty for a 10-yard scoring pass to push the President lead to 35-26. Bethany would immediately respond, using six plays to drive 74 yards, with the march being capped by Joyner’s fourth scoring pass of the game, a 16-yard hook-up with junior RB Nick Neratka (Markleysburg, Pa./Uniontown). The extra point would again hit off the upright, leaving the Bison down 35-32 with 10:59 left in the third quarter.
From that point on, W&J began to take control. Their lead swelled to double digits when Mathews scored on a one-yard run to make it 42-32 Presidents. Bethany had to punt on their ensuing possession, but they pinned W&J back on their own eight. That didn’t slow down the Presidents’ offense, which needed just three plays to find the end zone, as Swallow fired a 32-yard TD strike to O’Mahoney for a 49-32 W&J lead.
Bethany had one more challenge in them, as Joyner engineered a five-play, 68-yard scoring drive. The senior signal caller, who had broken Bethany’s single-season touchdown pass record with his TD toss to Neratka, tied BC’s single-game touchdown pass record by throwing his fifth of the game for the score. His 52-yard scoring aerial to McNeil brought BC back within 10 at 49-39 with 2:59 left in the third period.
The Bison’s hopes for a comeback would be dashed however, as W&J answered BC’s score with one of their own, a 28-yard scoring scamper by Mathews, then turned consecutive turnovers by Bethany into two more touchdowns. The three TDs by the Presidents in a span of 2:57 swelled their cushion to 70-39 and they would add a final score in the final stanza to complete the 77-39 victory. The 116 combined points is the most ever scored in a game involving either Bethany or W&J. The previous BC record was 98, which came in 1991 when the Bison defeated Duquesne 58-40.
Counting that record, there were a total of seven Bethany standards that were either broke or tied in the contest. Joyner’s day ended with 28 completions, second most in Bethany history (31 by Jeremy Lacaria-2002) for 375 yards, the third-highest total in Bison single-game history. His five scores tied the record that was set by Derek Scavnicky in the 1991 game against Duquesne and he finished the season with 21 touchdown passes, breaking the record of 19 set by Bob Fromm in 1997. Coupling the 375 passing yards with his 78 rushing yards on the day, Joyner also set a new Bethany single-game record for total yards, as his 453 broke the previous mark of 442 set by Lacaria in ‘02.
McNeil had a hand in the rest of the records. He caught 13 passes to tie the school’s single-game mark that was set by Denny Williams in a 1979 match-up against Thiel. Those receptions went for 221 yards, the second-most by a BC receiver behind only Dan Reilly’s 225 in a 1989 game against Hiram. Although he didn’t get his single-game receiving yards record, McNeil would get one of Reilly’s single-season standards. The junior wideout returned eight kickoffs in the game to give him 34 for the season, surpassing Nick Lion’s 2003 mark of 31 and the 128 yards McNeil gained on the runbacks gives him 643 for the year, besting Reilly’s 572 kickoff return yards in 1989 which had stood as the single-season record.
Bethany’s defensive efforts were spearheaded by senior LB Bill Wineberg (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) with 10 tackles and sophomore FS Nelson Mitzen (Waynesburg, Pa./Waynesburg Central), who had nine hits and intercepted a pass, just the third INT that W&J’s Swallow has thrown all year.
Outside of that pick, Swallow’s day was outstanding. He finished with 296 yards passing and six touchdowns, while the President ground game churned out 344 yards. Mathews had 208 of those and three scores, while Curt Jones totaled 81 yards and one TD. For the day, the teams combined for 1,241 yards of offense and 59 first downs.