Sept. 10 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College football team (0-1) will look to pull their regular-season record to .500 as they open the home portion of their schedule against Thiel College on Saturday. The contest will take place under the lights at Bison Stadium at 7:00 p.m. Full game notes can be viewed below.
The Bison: Bethany enters their week two matchup with the Tomcats having dropped their first game of the season, a 47-0 decision to the University of Mount Union. The Purple Raiders came into the game ranked #2 in the Nation by D3football.com. In the game, the Bison defense stood strong in the first quarter, holding Mount Union to six points in the opening frame. That feat marked the first time an opponent had held Mount Union to six points or less in the opening quarter in 28 games. The Bison defense finished the day with 7.0 tackles for loss, and were led by junior Donavan Hayden’s 11 tackles.
The Tomcats: Thiel College opened their season with a 37-21 victory over Allegheny College. The game marked the second-straight season that Thiel opened the year with a victory to start 1-0. In the victory, Thiel outgained the Gators 558-251, doing most of their damage in the ground game. The Tomcats racked up 334 yards rushing, averaging 7.4 yards per carry on the day. Three-different players tallied over 90 yards rushing in the win, including freshman Kevin Daly (115) and quarterback Ryan Radke (104).
The Series: This week’s contest will mark the 73rd meeting between the Bison and the Tomcats. Thiel holds a 38-33-1 advantage in the series. However, the Bison have taken four of the last five contests between the two schools.
The Last Time They Met: In week two of the 2014 season, the Bison and Tomcats met for the 72nd time at Alumni Stadium in Greenville, Pa. Bethany used a huge second-half to pick up their first win of the season, in what would be the first of five-consecutive victories. In the game’s closing half, the Bison would go on a 35-3 run, turning a 14-10 disadvantage into a 45-17 lead. Thiel would score the final touchdown of the game in garbage time, but the Bison rolled to the 21-point victory.
Offensively in the contest, five-different Bison accounted for at least one touchdown. Jalen Holmes and Tyler Ambush each found pay dirt on the ground, while Chris Collins and Eric Blinn each scored a touchdown through the air.
Defensively, the Bison rebounded in a big way, holding the Tomcats to just 215 total yards in the contest. Nadim Raddar led the way on the defensive front, notching 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Thiel head coach Kurt Reiser will meet for the third time this season, having split their last two contests. Each coach has captured a game at the other team’s field in their series.
Garvey, who spent 7 years as an offensive coordinator, helped build one of the most prolific offenses that Bethany has ever seen. After taking over the ship in 2013, Garvey has helped push the Bison to renewed success, including the team’s first post-season appearance since the 1980 season in 2014. Last year the Green & White tallied a 6-5 record, the program’s most wins since 2001. His current overall record is 10-12 through 22 games.
Reiser has been a member of the Tomcat coaching staff since the 2001 season, serving as the offensive line coach from ‘01 to ‘06. During that time, he helped Thiel to their last PAC title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005. After serving as offensive coordinator in ‘07, Reiser took the head coaching job in 2008. Since then, he has posted a career record of 15-55.
Senior Leadership: The Bison boast perhaps their most experienced roster in recent memory, as 24 seniors are currently listed on the roster. Of those 24, a total of 14 spots on the Bethany two-deep are taken by senior players. Along with those numbers, both the offensive and defensive captains are seniors in 2015. Wideout Eric Blinn will captain the offense against the Tomcats, while senior middle linebacker Dylan Stewart will serve as the defensive captain.
Blinnsanity: Blinn had a quiet week against the University of Mount Union, but will look to bounce back against a Tomcat squad that he has seen some success against. Last season, Blinn tallied seven catches for 85 yards and a score against Thiel. In three games against Thiel, Blinn has seen overall success, totaling 27 catches for 407 yards and two scores. He has averaged 135.6 yards per game against Thiel, while tallying a 15.6 yards-per-catch average.
Blinn has also inched toward two Presidents’ Athletic Conference records with his numbers last week. He now needs just 14 catches and 61 yards to become the PAC’s career leader in both categories. He also enters the game as the Division III active leader in a number of receiving categories, including total receptions (256), receptions per game (8.00) and total receiving yards (3,143). He is also second on the career active list in receiving yards per game (98.2).
Battle in the Trenches: A big key to the game between the Bison and the Tomcats will be who can control the line of scrimmage. In the two team’s previous two meetings, which ever side controlled the running game won the contest. In 2013, the Tomcats racked up 312 total rushing yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry en route to a 30-28 victory.
When the Bison took the victory last season, the Green & White held Thiel to just 118 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per rush. The Bison, meanwhile, averaged 4.0 yards per rush and 198 yards to take a 45-24 win.
In 2014, both the Bison and the Tomcats relied on their rushing attacks, with each team averaging 171.6 yards per game on the ground, which tied the programs for third in the conference.
Defensive Prowess: The Bison defense took major strides during the 2014 season and will once again look to be a key focal point in Saturday’s contest. Last season, the Green & White racked up 43 sacks during the season while totaling 120 tackles for loss.
Overall, the Bison allowed 250 yards or less in five separate occasions in 2014, with the team going 4-1 in those instances. With six starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, the Bison will look to bounce back against a Tomcat offense that gained 558 yards against Allegheny last week.
Up Next: Next week the Bison will play in their second home contest of the season as they open Presidents’ Athletic Conference action against Westminster College. The matchup at Bison Stadium is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
Last season the Bison defeated Westminster 21-14 in an overtime thriller.
Thiel will also open PAC play next week as they travel to Crestview Hills, Kentucky to take on Thomas More College.
Catch the Action: Can’t make it to Bison Stadium to catch the action? The Bethany Broadcasting Network will be sure to have you covered. You can check out all the action online by visiting http://portal.stretchinternet.com/bethanywv/. From there you can chose your experience! Watch the game with out live video option or listen to it online through WVBC radio. You can also tune into the live statistics, all powered by Stretch Internet!