Nov. 1 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Geneva scored 25 second quarter points, including 17 in the final 2:31 of the period, to build an 11-point halftime lead and go on to a 38-23 victory over the Bethany football team Saturday afternoon at Bison Stadium.
After each team was forced to punt on their opening possession, the offenses went to work, first with a big play from the Bison (2-6). A flea flicker off a reverse led to a 57-yard touchdown pass from freshman QB Chad Smith (Washington, Pa.) to junior WR Matt Cruse (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier). The extra point was missed, but Geneva (3-5) would also miss their first PAT after they scored on their next possession. A five-play, 46-yard drive ended on a six-yard scoring pass from David Girardi to Brian Dvorsak to tie the game at 6-6.
The Bison came back on their following drive to take a 13-6 advantage. They moved 62 yards in nine plays, highlighted by Smith going 5-for-6 for 51 yards on the march. He completed a pair of third-down passes and then tossed a 33-yard completion to sophomore RB Marcus Santini (Seminole, Fla.) down to the GT five. On the next play, freshman RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) burst into the end zone for his ninth rushing touchdown of the season, one off the BC single-season record, and Bethany was back on top.
Geneva claimed the lead early in the second quarter after pinning the Bison deep in their own territory on a punt and using a short field to their advantage. The Golden Tornadoes need to go just 36 yards for the score, with the final 29 coming on a Matt Barge run to paydirt. The two-point conversion pass from Girardi to Stuart Bell was good and Geneva was in front 14-13.
That lead didn’t last long, as the Green and White motored 65 yards in eight plays for another go-ahead score. The touchdown came on a 27-yard pass from Smith to sophomore WR Randy Rankin (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) and the extra point gave the hosts a 20-14 lead. Bethany nearly added on to their lead with their next possession, as they drove to the Geneva 20 and a pass from Smith to Cruse looked to be completed, but Geneva’s Rich Kolesar came up with the interception in the end zone to stop the Bison drive threat.
From that point, the rest of the half belonged to Geneva. Using runs of 19 and 24 from Gerard Muschette and a personal foul call on Bethany, they raced 80 yards in six plays, with the drive being capped on a two-yard scoring run from Matt Dean to give the GTs a 21-20 lead. The visitors forced a three-and-out from BC and Geneva would find the end zone again when Girardi hooked up with Dvorsak again, this time from 16 yards out for a TD with 58 seconds to play in the half.
After receiving the kickoff, Bethany’s first play was a pass that was picked off by Geneva’s Jason Kelderhouse at the Bison 32. Geneva would stall out at the BC 15, but Nick DiPietro drilled a 32-yard field goal with only seven seconds left in the half to send his team into halftime with a 31-20 lead.
Bethany would force the Golden Tornadoes to punt on their first drive of the third quarter and the Bison turned to Walker on their first possession. He carried the ball nine times for 41 yards during a 16-play, 82-yard odyssey. Bethany reached the GT five before settling for a 22-yard field goal by freshman Carlos Perdomo (Tampa, Fla./Leto) and BC was back within a score at 31-23.
The defenses would control much of the action in the second half, as neither team mounted another threat in the third quarter. Early in the fourth, Bethany was in business after a 28-yard punt return by Cruse set them up at the Geneva 26. However, the Bison were unable to make a first down in four plays, turning the ball back over to the GTs.
Geneva used the momentum built by the stop to put a big insurance score on the board. A pair of runs by Muschette netted 19 yards, which was followed by a 13-yard jaunt by Dean. The next play saw Barge break off a 51-yard scoring run to swell the lead to 38-23, which is where it stood at the end of the game to give the Golden Tornadoes their second consecutive victory.
Overall in the contest, Bethany had a 417-411 advantage in total yards and converted 10-of-20 third down opportunities. The GTs countered by rolling up 339 rushing yards in the victory on 50 carries, a 6.8 average, and also scoring on all four trips to the red zone, while the Bison were just 2-of-4 inside the Geneva 20.
Smith led the BC passing offense by throwing for 306 yards, his third 300+ passing game of the year to break the Bethany single-season record, and two touchdowns. Cruse was the big-play target, hauling in five passes for 112 yards and a score, his 21st career TD reception. It was also his fifth 100-yard receiving effort of the campaign, as he jumped one spot on the Bethany all-time reception list and three positions on the all-time yardage rankings. Cruse now has 129 career catches (third all-time at Bethany) for 1,961 yards (second).
Walker turned in a workhorse performance as well, running 27 times for 103 yards and one TD and catching six passes for 50 yards.
Bethany’s defense was led by their two safeties, as junior FS Nelson Mitzen (Waynesburg, Pa./Waynesburg Central) posted 16 tackles and forced a fumble and junior SS David Abel (Phillipsburg, N.J.) was in on 13 stops.
Geneva was led by a pair of running backs in Barge (18 carries, 143 yards, two TDs) and Muschette (16 carries, 139 yards). Girardi threw for 72 yards and two scores, both going to Dvorsak, who had four receptions for 45 yards. LB Zach Feltrop finished with 14 hits to pace the Geneva defense.
The Bison will go on the road one last time next Saturday when they travel to Washington & Jefferson for a 1:30 kickoff at Cameron Stadium. The ninth-ranked Presidents lost at Thomas More 35-29 Saturday, which gave the Saints the PAC championship, so W&J will need wins in their final two games to keep their NCAA at-large playoff hopes alive.