Oct. 30 – BETHANY, W. Va. – Coming off a last-minute, 7-6, defeat at the hands of Westminster College, the Bethany College football program will look to rebound and get back to the .500 mark as they host the Tomcats of Thiel College on Saturday afternoon.
The meeting will be the 71st between the two programs with the Tomcats holding a slight, 37-32-1, advantage. Bethany has taken the last four games of the series, including a 26-13 victory in Greenville last season.
Last Time Out
A special teams miscue with 44 seconds remaining in the game proved to be the difference in Bethany’s, 7-6, loss at the hands of Westminster the last time the Bison took the field. Despite getting a dominate defensive effort, allowing the Titans to score no offensive touchdowns over the course of the game, The Bison offense was unable to capitalize, totaling just 256 yards of total offense, almost 200-yards lower than their season average.
“The defense gave us every opportunity to win the game last week,” said head coach Bill Garvey, “unfortunately, the offense didn’t show up. We had a lack of focus on the offensive side and we made too many mistakes during the course of the game.”
With the Bison up 6-0 with under a minute remaining, the Titans were able to block a punt which was then recovered in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
“Special teams miscues and penalties were things that were problem areas for us over the first three losses of the season, and they came back again in the loss last week,” remarked Garvey. “As a team we just need to refocus once again and get back to playing the brand of football that we had during the three-game winning streak.”
Offensively, Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) finished 23-of-41 for 192 yards while Jaylen Jennings (Indian Head, Md./Henry E. Lackey) led all receivers with six catches for 70 yards. Chris Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) also hauled in six catches for a total of 61 yards.
On the defensive side, the Bison held its opponent without an offensive score for the first time since a 20-0 victory over Thiel in 2011. The Bison defenders also combined for a season high, 11 tackles for loss. Chris Burg (Martinsburg, W. Va./Martinsburg) led the team with 7.5 tackles, while Jarret Rahymes (Colquitt, Ga./Miller County) made his mark, leading all Bison with 3.0 tackles for loss.
The Tomcats, coming off a bye week, dropped their previous contest, a 42-21 decision to Thomas More College. In the game, the Saints rattled off 611 total yards including 345 on the ground. The Tomcat “D” allowed the Saints to gain 9.5 yards per play, including allowing 252 yards rushing and four touchdown to Saints running back Dominique Hayden.
On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore Ryan Radke threw for 137 yards and a score and ran for 83 more yards to lead the Tomcats offense in the game.
Defensively, Walt Litwin led all players with nine total tackles and Travell Sherrod picked off two passes in the game.
In the two team’s previous meeting, the Bison walked away with their fourth-consecutive victory over the Tomcats, 26-13. Grimard finished the contest with 293 yards passing on 26-of-40 and a touchdown. Sophomore Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver) was Grimard’s top receiver in the game, totaling 182 yards on eight catches and a score.
The Bison used three, fourth-quarter scores to overcome a 7-6 deficit, which included touchdown runs from Grimard and Phil Acrie as well as a 43-yard pitch and catch from Grimard to Blinn.
Over the course of the contest, the Bison outgained Thiel by a total of 395-283. Bethany also controlled the time of possession, 34:06-25:54.
Tale of the Tape
Bethany comes into the contest ranked fifth in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in points per game, scoring 25.7 points per game. The team also ranks first in passing offense per game (320.4) and fourth in total offense per game (427.3)
Individually, Grimard leads all quarterbacks in the conference in passing yardage per game, throwing for 320.4 yards per contest. Despite being held without a catch last week, Blinn continues to lead the PAC in receptions per game (8.9) as well as total receiving yards (839).
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bison are allowing 28.1 points per game on the season, but over its’ last three contests, are holding opponents to just 15.3 points per contest.
Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) ranks seventh in the PAC in total tackles with 63 while Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) is third in the conference in total sacks with seven. Pierce also ranks third in tackles for loss, as he has totaled 10.5 on the year.
For Thiel, the Tomcats come into the game averaging 23.7 points per contest, while giving up 32.9 on the defensive front. Thiel currently ranks third in the PAC in rushing offense per game, averaging 181.1 on the ground this season.
“Thiel has a very balanced running attack,” remarked Coach Garvey. “They have a couple of very talented running backs and a quarterback in Radke that can move around the pocket and make plays with his feet as well as his arm.”
Defensively, Thiel is allowing 415.7 yards through seven games this season. The Tomcats currently rank sixth in the conference in rushing defense (172.0 yards/game) and passing defense (243.7 yards/game).
Individually on the defensive side of the ball, Wes Schmidt leads all Tomcats with 58 total tackles while defensive back Rob Edwards leads the team and is sixth in the conference in defended passes, having knocked down seven on the year.
Before the game at Bison Stadium, the 12 members of the football team’s senior class will be honored as they play in their final game at home. The ceremony will be held ten minutes prior to kickoff, on the field.