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Bison Football Drops Conference Opener to Westminster

Sept. 19 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bison football team opened Presidents’ Athletic Conference action on Saturday afternoon against Westminster College at Bison Stadium. Four second-half turnovers befell the Green & White, as Bethany dropped the contest, 38-24.

Despite the outcome, senior Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver) once again stole the headlines for Bethany (1-2, 0-1 PAC), as the wideout broke yet another career record. With his second catch in the first half of Saturday’s game, Blinn became the PAC’s all-time career leader in receptions, finishing the day with 273.

Blinn has now broken three career marks in the first three weeks of the 2015 season, as he shattered both the conference mark for receiving yards and the Bethany school record for touchdown catches in a victory over Thiel College last week.

In the contest on Saturday, the Titans rode the momentum from a near upset over #14 W&J last week into their game with the Green & White, using a nine-play, 63-yard drive on their first possession to notch a score through the air. Quarterback Paul Columbo found Michael Frankowski from 12 yards out, and the visitors found themselves leading 7-0.

The Bison would respond late in the first quarter. Following a 16-yard punt return by Blinn, setting the Green & White at the Westminster 42-yard line, Bethany needed just two plays to find pay dirt. Freshman Antonio Hannah (Darlington, S.C./Darlington) ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run up the right side of the field to knot the game at 7-7 with 4:35 to play in the frame.

Bethany’s “D” would come up big on Westminster’s next possession, as freshman defensive tackled Daniel Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) forced a Columbo fumble which was recovered by Dion Williams (Clinton, Md./Frederick Douglass). The Bison would then go on to take the lead.

The Bison ran just five plays to find the end zone for a second time, four of those coming by way of the run. The biggest run play for the Green & White on the drive came from quarterback Lincon Reyes (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) as he escaped the pocket on 3rd-and-14, running for 15 yards to pick up a first down.

Junior Jalen Holmes (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) then broke open his first big run of the afternoon, a 28-yard scamper which put Bethany down to the two-yard line. From there, it was only a matter of time as the Bison handed the ball to Holmes two more times, scoring from one-yard out to give Bethany the 14-7 lead.

The Titans would retaliate with a 12-play, 68-yard drive to knot the game at 14 each before both defenses settled down.

Following punts from both team’s, Westminster’s defense made the first big play, intercepting a Reyes’ pass on a screen play to give the Titans possession and turn away the Bethany drive.

Just three plays after the Bethany turnover, the Green & White got a great play from one of their own defenders. Westminster moved to midfield on just two plays after the interception. The Titans then attempted a pass toward the sidelines on a first-and-10, but freshman Tyrik Darby (Jersey City, N.J./Lincoln) dove in front of the Westminster wide receiver to tally the first interception of his career.

With just 51 seconds to play, the Bison needed a late push, and received two big passing plays from Reyes. The first was a 21-yard strike to Holmes, with the second going to junior Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwestern) for a 38-yard completion, setting the Bison up with first-and-goal with six seconds remaining.

Looking to get sure points before the half, head coach Bill Garvey called on kicker Chris Ray (Henrico, Va./Mills E. Goodwin), who calmly converted his seventh-career field goal from 24 yards out to give Bethany the 17-14 lead heading into the half.

For as much control as the Bison seemed to have for the first half, the visitors were able to flip the script in the second stanza, as Westminster forced four Bethany turnovers in the half, outscoring the Green & White 24-7 to go on for the 14-point victory.

The Titans used two Bethany miscues to their advantage in the third quarter. The first scoring drive came after a botched punt attempt which put the ball at the 40-yard line. Westminster needed just three plays after that, capped by a 29-yard TD run from Dominique McKinley.

Three drives later, the Bison handed Westminster another touchdown as Reyes was intercepted by the Titans’ Gator Phillips, who returned the ball 89 yards to give the visitors a 28-17 lead.

Bethany’s lone score of the half came late in the third quarter as the Green & White used a seven-play drive to march the ball 78 yards. Reyes connected with Blinn on receptions of 19 yards and 22 yards, respectively. The latter put the ball at the Westminster 27 and would set up a draw play for Reyes.

Following a fake handoff, the senior quarterback took the ball straight up the middle, running into the end zone from 27-yards out. The TD marked his second rushing score of the season, both of which have come from outside the red zone. When the dust settled in the third, the Bison still remained within striking distance, 28-24.

Westminster would stymie the Bethany offense in the fourth quarter, as the Green & White totaled just 30 yards on four drives in the closing frame. Westminster would tack on ten more points, including a touchdown run from Kimu Kim, and a 34-yard field goal by Justin Dahl, rounding the scoring at 38-24.

Offensively, the Green & White outgained the Titans 342-307, averaging 5.3 yards per play in the process. Reyes finished the game 13-of-27 passing for 185 yards. He also added 24 yards rushing and a touchdown.

The Bison finished with 157 rushing yards, led by Holmes’ 80 yards and a score. Hannah finished with 49 yards and a touchdown as well.

Turnovers were the key in the matchup as the Bison held a +1 turnover advantage in the first half, holding a three-point lead at the break. However, the Green & White were -4 in the second stanza, getting outscored by the Titans 24-7.

Defensively, Bethany was led by senior Donavan Hayden (Hyattsville, Md./Northwestern) who finished the game with 14 total tackles, including 3.5 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. Gibson also performed well as he tallied nine tackles (1.5 for loss) and a forced fumble.

The Bison will be back in action on Saturday, September 26 as they travel to Waynesburg, Pa. for a bout with the Yellow Jackets. The matchup is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start.