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BISON FALL SHORT AGAINST WESTMINSTER 30-27

Oct. 8 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Trailing by three in the closing seconds, the Bethany College football team drove to the Westminster six-yard line, but a fourth down pass was intercepted and the Titans escaped with a 30-27 victory over the Bison Saturday.

The defeat drops BC’s record to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the league, while Westminster is now 3-2 and 2-1.

In a fast-moving game that saw 90 rushing attempts between the teams, the first quarter went by scoreless. The Titans were on the move at the end of the opening period and completed a 12-play, 80-yard drive early in the second quarter with a three-yard scoring run by Tyler Banks for a 7-0 lead. Bethany came right back on its next drive and tied the score at 7-7 when sophomore QB Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) lobbed a 43-yard touchdown pass to junior WR Ed Holmes (Virginia Beach, Va./Landstown).

The scoring continued on each team’s next possession, as the Titans drove to the Bison 19, but a botched snap pushed them back and they were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Zac Henry. Bethany took over with 2:38 on the clock and motored 61 yards in 10 plays to reach paydirt on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Grimard to senior WR Alex Evans (Washington, Pa.), which sent BC into the locker room with a 14-10 halftime lead.

Westminster, which had one completion for zero yards in the first half, stuck to the ground game on its opening drive of the third quarter. Eight running plays covered 65 yards, with the final 10 coming on a gallop by John Proano that sent the Titans back into the lead at 17-14. Once again, the Green and White had an answer, as a face mask penalty and a 33-yard pass to Evans down to the Titans’ one highlighted the ensuing drive. Senior RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) punched it into the end zone from a yard away and the extra point made it a 21-17 margin for Bethany.

The Bison were looking for more late in the period, as they drove to the Westminster 27. However, the drive was stopped when the Titans, who were tied for the lead in the PAC in turnover margin coming into the game, pressured Grimard into an interception. What followed was a 13-play, 83-yard drive sparked by two pass plays. One covered 19 yards and was followed by a BC penalty. The other put the visitors in the end zone, as Shawn Lehocky fired a five-yard scoring pass to Geno Pasquinelli to lift the Titans to a 24-21 lead.

For the fourth time in the game, Bethany answered a Westminster score with one of their own and it came quickly. Evans supplied the boost with a 42-yard kick return and three plays later, sophomore Nico Irizarry (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) broke off a 41-yard touchdown run. However, the extra point banged off the upright, leaving it a three-point spread at 27-24.

The momentum swings continued when the Titans got the ball back. Lehocky had big runs of 18 and 12 yards to ignite a 63-yard scoring drive. The passing game stepped up again for Westminster, as the drive culminated in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Lehocky to Pasquinelli, but they too missed the extra point and it was a 30-27 score with 5:24 to play.

The teams exchanged punts after that and Bethany had possession at their own 37 with 1:53 to play and zero timeouts. Grimard completed 5-of-6 through the air, with a personal foul penalty against Westminster coming in the middle of the drive and the Bison found themselves with a first and goal at the Titan eight. After the first down pass was batted down, a Walker run gained two yards and another pass was broken up, Bethany had one last chance on fourth down. Grimard rolled out and was facing a heavy rush when just as he was to put the ball into the end zone, he was hit. The ball popped in the air and Nate Moot picked it off to end the threat and let Westminster come away with the victory.

Bethany finished the game with a 371-350 advantage in total yards, but the Westminster ground game was a difference maker. Fifty-two of the Titans 60 plays were on the ground and they gained 296 yards, with Proano picking up a game-high 144 yards on 24 carries.

For the Bison, Grimard hit on 19-of-28 through the air for 215 yards and the two scores, in addition to chipping in 49 rushing yards. Irizarry was the top ground gainer for BC with 74 yards, while Evans had six catches for 88 yards and Holmes snared five balls for 65 yards.

On the defense, sophomore safety Jamaan Webb (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) made 13 tackles and added his second interception of the season, while junior CB Jeff Joyce (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) and senior DE Kasib Taalib-Din (New York, N.Y./Central Park East) both totaled nine stops.

Bethany will be back on the field next Saturday in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff against Thiel at Bison Stadium.