Nov. 2 - BETHANY, W. Va. – In a game that saw 35 fourth-quarter points, the Bethany College football team (3-5, 3-3 PAC) was defeated, 30-28, by Thiel College on Saturday afternoon. Despite 305 yards passing and three touchdowns by Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) the Bison were unable to hold off a strong second half by Thiel, who racked up 312 yards rushing on the day.
The first half saw just two scores, as each team found the end zone. The Tomcats struck first on their first drive of the game, as Thiel was able to go 95 yards on seven plays for the score. The biggest play on the drive came on a fourth and eight from the Bethany 48. Thiel decided to kick the ball away, but a roughing the kicker penalty set the Tomcats up with a first down on the Bethany 33. On the very next play, Josh Wannamaker took the ball and ran 33 yards for the game's first score.
The Bison offense was unable to get anything going in the first quarter as the team ran just 12 plays, going three-and-out on four separate drives in the frame.
At the end of the first quarter, a great punt by Stephen Amic (McDonald, Pa./West Allegheny) pinned the Tomcats back at their own three-yard line and the Bison defense held Thiel to a three-and-out to set up great field position for the Bison offense.
Bethany was able to take advantage of the field position swing as they needed just five plays to answer the call with a 20-yard touchdown strike from Grimard to Jaylen Jennings (Indian Head, Md./Henry E. Lackey). The extra-point attempt was no good and the Bison remained behind, 7-6. The teams would go into the half with the Bison trailing by the same score.
Both defenses played very well in the first half as the Bison held Thiel to just 135 yards, including just 38 total yards in the second quarter. However, the Bison offense was also held in check, notching just 16 yards in the first frame, and 134 in the entire first half.
Thiel once again notched the first score in half number two. After another booming punt by Amic trapped the Tomcats at their own one-yard line, an 84-yard pass from Ryan Radke to Matt Fedzen set up Thiel with a first down at the Bethany 14-yard line. However, the Bison defense was able to hold strong and kept the Tomcats to a field goal, which was made, to put Thiel up 10-6.
After the Bison went three-and-out, Amic put another punt inside the Thiel 10-yard line and the Tomcats took over deep in their own territory. On the very next play, a bad snap had the ball on the ground, which was pounced on by Bethany’s Josh Moody (McKeesport, Pa./Serra Catholic). Three plays later, Grimard scored on a one-yard touchdown run to give Bethany its’ first lead, 13-10.
Thiel would answer in the fourth quarter, going on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard TD run by Radke to make the score, 17-13. The Bison looked as though they would respond, as Grimard found Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver) on a 41-yard hookup the had Bethany on the Thiel 27. However, the Bison then turned the ball over on downs with Grimard being sacked by RJ Malson on fourth down to give the ball back to Thiel. The Tomcats would score again, this time on a 17-yard scamper by Radke, to go up 24-10.
With 1:49 remaining in the game, the Bison weren’t done yet. Grimard marched Bethany down the field as the team went 55 yards in just 46 seconds, finishing on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest). The two-point conversion was no good and Bethany found itself down 24-19 with 1:03 remaining.
After the onside kick was recovered by Thiel, the Tomcats tacked on another score on their first play from scrimmage. Josh Wannamaker ran straight up the middle, 45 yards, for the TD. The extra point was then blocked by Eric Campbell (Hurricane, W. Va./Hurricane) and recovered by Wyssmy Despagne (Riverdale, Md./Parkdale), who took the ball the length of the field for the defensive PAT. After the dust settled on that play, the Bison faced a 30-21 deficit.
Grimard, doing his best to keep his team in the game in his final contest at Bison Stadium, kept hopes alive. With just 51 seconds remaining in the game, Grimard used just four plays and 29 seconds to take Bethany into the end zone once again. The scoring play was a 26-yard pass to Jennings which made the advantage, 30-28 in favor of Thiel.
The comeback could not be completed, however, as the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Tomcats and the Bison fell by less than a field goal for the second straight week, 30-28.
Despite the loss, another Bethany offensive record fell in the game, as Blinn made 12 catches in the contest to give him 74 on the year, breaking the Bethany single-season mark of 72 set by Jonathan Foster just a year ago. Blinn finished the day with 12 receptions for 140 yards. Jennings also had a big day, catching two touchdown passes for the second time this season (also had two TD receptions on Sept. 14 at Geneva).
Grimard finished the day with four total touchdowns, passing for three and running for one more. He also totaled 305 yards passing and another 57 on the ground.
Defensively, Nick Greer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) led the team with 7.5 tackles while Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline), Dion Williams (Clinton, Md./Frederick Douglass) and Campbell finished with five. Moody and Chris Burg (Martinsburg, W. Va./Hedgesville) were each credited with a fumble recovery in the contest.
Before the game, the 12 senior members of the Bison football team were honored. The senior class included; Moody, Grimard, Michael Ainsworth (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway), Adam Atwell (Powhatan, Va./Deep Run), Zach Burton (Hurricane, W. Va./Hurricane), Cam Cooper (Hurricane, W. Va./Hurricane), Ben Gregg (Eighty Four, Pa./Bentworth), Michael Howcott (Upper Marlboro, Md./Frederick Douglass), Tyrell Scott (Lanham, Md./Parkdale), Evan Sargo (Munhall, Pa./Serra Catholic), Dylan Tetting (Lanham, Md./Parkdale) and Alex Tyre (Pittsburgh Pa./Gateway).
The Bison will be back in action on Saturday, November 9 as they travel to Crestview Hills, Ky. for a bout with Thomas More College. The contest is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start.