Sept. 15 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Behind school-record totals in total offense (739) and rushing yards (482), the Bethany College football team improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2001 with a resounding 66-7 victory over visiting Saint Vincent (Pa.) College (0-3) Saturday afternoon.
The Bison were in control from the start, scoring on seven of their eight first half possessions. The barrage started on the opening drive, despite being pinned back to their own nine by a Saint Vincent punt. Two plays later, senior QB Milton Joyner (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse) hit sophomore WR Matt Cruse (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier), who broke two tackles, picked up a key block and raced 83 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 Bethany lead with just 4:01 off the clock.
After forcing the Bearcats to punt after a three-and-out, BC took over at midfield, The six-play, 50-yard drive was highlighted by junior RB Nick Neratka (Markleysburg, Pa./Uniontown) carrying four times for 27 yards, including a nine-yard scoring run to move the Bison lead to 14-0.
Bethany’s offense really hit the gas pedal in the second quarter, totaling 35 points to make it a 49-0 score at halftime. Their first possession of the quarter started at midfield again and this time, only five plays were needed to find paydirt. Joyner scored his first rushing TD of the game when he scampered 26 yards for the score to swell the Bison cushion to 21-0.
The lead grew to 28-0 on BC’s next drive, as they moved 64 yards in eight plays. Freshman RB Marcus Santini (Seminole, Fla.) capped the drive with a 17-yard scoring run.
The Bearcats had their best drive of the first half on the ensuing possession, as they reached the Bethany 27. But on fourth down, junior CB Brandon Zeman (Oakdale, Pa./Chartiers Valley) sacked SVC quarterback Mike Speal to give the ball back to Bethany. On the very next play, Neratka galloped 65 yards down to the six. Neratka finished the job by bursting into the end zone on the next snap to make the Green and White advantage 35-0.
Zeman set up Bethany’s next score with another big play, as he stepped in front of a Speal pass and returned the INT 32 yards to the Bearcat 10. On third and goal, Joyner notched his second rushing score of the afternoon with an 11-yard jaunt for a 42-0 Bethany lead.
The Bison’s final score of the half came in the final minutes. Running a two-minute offense, Joyner moved his team 60 yards in seven plays, as he went 4-for-5 for 51 yards on the drive. The march ended with Joyner hitting Cruse for an eight-yard score with 32 seconds left to send Bethany into halftime with 49-0 lead.
To open the second half, Bethany was forced to punt, which set up Saint Vincent’s score. The Bearcats moved 56 yards in four plays, highlighted by a 19-yard run from Logan Small. SVC’s touchdown came on a nine-yard scoring pass from Phil Hamilton to Jeff Bishop and Matt Houston’s extra point made it 49-7.
Bethany would add the exclamation point to their biggest win in 37 years with two more touchdowns in the third quarter and a field goal in the fourth quarter. BC responded to the Bearcat scoring drive by going 55 yards in eight plays, with junior QB Matt Blumer (Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney) scoring from seven yards out. Bethany followed that by going 75 yards in nine plays to enlarge their lead to 63-7. Santini did the brunt of the work, carrying eight times for 43 yards and finished the drive with an eight-yard run to the end zone, as he became the fourth Bison to record two touchdowns on the day.
The record-setting ground game would end the contest in a big way in the fourth quarter. A 17-play, 75-drive that milked 7:37 off the clock resulted in a 31-yard field goal from Blumer, who ended the day with 18 points. Two more BC freshmen backs did the majority of the work on the march, as John Rhodes (Garrettsville, Ohio/Garfield) carried eight times for 51 yards and Shaka Brown (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) toted the pigskin six times for 23 yards.
Although the performance by the Bison offense was record-setting, BC’s defense posted another outstanding game as well. They held Saint Vincent to just 117 total yards, the fewest allowed by a Bethany team since Gallaudet (D.C.) University registered just 70 yards in a 45-3 Bison win on Sept. 22, 2001. They picked off two passes, one by Zeman and one by senior LB Chance Kildow (Sisterville, W.Va./Tyler Consolidated), and also had four QB sacks, including a pair by junior DE Will Newcomb (Eldora, N.J./Middle Township).
Among the offensive marks set by the Bison included 739 total yards, which came on 91 plays for an average of 8.1 yards per play. Bethany also gained 482 yards on the ground on 71 carries, as five different players rushed for 50 or more yards in the game. BC’s 66 total points and margin of victory (59) was also the highest by the program since a 73-6 rout of D.C. Teachers College in 1969.
Spearheading all the offensive fireworks was Joyner, who completed 12-of-16 through the air for 214 yards and two scores, while adding in 47 yards on five carries and two TDs on the ground. Neratka posted his second straight week with over 100 yards, as he totaled 109 and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Santini (12 att., 85 yards, two TDs) and freshman Nick Czapor (Liberty Boro, Pa./South Allegheny), who had 15 carries for 77 yards, also had solid outings.
At receiver, Cruse set a new career-high in receiving yards for the second straight week. After pulling in six passes for 122 yards and a score in the Hiram win last week, he came back with six grabs for 137 yards and two touchdowns, which tied the school-record for TD receptions in a game. Junior Taylor McNeil (Old Saybrook, Conn.) chipped in with four receptions for 63 yards as well.
The Bison will try to make it three in a row to open the season next Saturday night when they travel to Beaver Falls, Pa., to take on Geneva College. It will be the first meeting between the Bison and Golden Tornadoes, who improved to 2-1 Saturday with a 37-14 win over Westminster (Pa.) College, since 1984. Kickoff at Geneva’s Reeves Field is set for 6:30 p.m.