Sept. 6 – BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bison football team opened the season with a home-opening loss to The University of Mount Union by a score of 58-7. The Purple Raiders came into the contest ranked third in the nation according to D3football.com.
After going into the locker room trailing 38-0 at the half, the Bison opened the scoring in the third quarter. The defense set up the Bison in the third frame as the Bethany “D” jumped on a fumble by Mount Union’s Kevin Burke. Senior linebacker Chris Burg (Martinsburg, W. Va./Martinsburg) came away with the loose ball, and the Bison were set up with their best starting field position of the day on the Mount Union 40-yard line.
On the very next play, sophomore quarterback Brian Vales (Pittsburgh, Pa./Avonworth), making his first- career start, found sophomore Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest) on a 40-yard strike. Ambush caught the ball over a Purple Raider defender and skirted around another would-be tackler on his way for six points. Freshman Chris Ray (Richmond, Va./Godwin) would tack on the extra point to complete Bethany’s lone score of the day.
Despite the outcome, the Bison were able to take away a few positives from the game. One of those, was the play of sophomores Ambush and defensive end Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline). Ambush, who was the fourth-leading receiver on the team last season, led the way for Bethany, finishing the contest with six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Pierce, who totaled 7.0 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss as a freshman in 2013, started the year off strong, recording one sack and a career-high four tackles for loss. Pierce also finished the day with six total tackles in the contest.
Another strong note for the Bison was that they controlled the turnover margin over Mount Union with a +2 advantage. The Bison caused three fumbles on the day, two of which they recovered for a turnover. Junior Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) stripped the ball twice during the game and both Burg and senior Wyssmy Despagne (Riverdale, Md./Parkdale) came up with a loose ball.
On the other side of the ball, Vales proved that he will be a solid starter for the Bison for years to come. The sophomore showed great elusiveness with his feet, leading the team in rushing with 48 yards on the ground. Vales also did a nice job in the passing game, finishing the day 14-20 for 119 yards and a score.
On the other side for the Purple Raiders, reigning Gagliardi Trophy winner, Burke, finished the day 23-of-34 for 411 yards and three scores. His top target was Roman Namdar, who finished with eight catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. B.J. Mitchell ran well for the Purple Raiders, scoring three touchdowns on the day.
The Bison will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 13 as they travel to Greenville, Pa. for a contest with the Tomcats of Thiel College. Due to the restructuring of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in 2014, the game will be scored as a non-conference matchup. The contest is set to kick off at 7 p.m.