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Bison Football Looks to Get Back on Track at Carnegie Mellon

Oct. 7 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College football team will look to get back to the .500 mark in conference play as they travel to Carnegie Mellon for the first time since 2006. The matchup between the Bison and Tartans is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start. Full game notes can be viewed below.

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The Bison: Bethany is coming off a disappointing loss to Case Western Reserve on Saturday, as the Green & White dropped a 59-20 decision to the Spartans. In the game, the Bison jumped out to a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter thanks to a one-yard touchdown run from Jalen Holmes, and a five-yard TD reception by Tyler Ambush.

Case Western would respond in the game by scoring the contests’ next 45 points, including touchdown plays of 52, 46 and 39 yards, respectively. Bethany would notch their third touchdown of the game on a 12-yard TD pass from Lincon Reyes to Eric Blinn, before Case rounded out the scoring with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

In the contest, the Bison offense totaled 381 yards but fell victim to three turnovers. Reyes finished with 247 yards passing and a pair of scores, while Blinn was the top target with nine catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. Ambush also provided a solid game, notching nine catches for 81 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Green & White, who have been so good at stopping offenses at the point of attack this season, once again tallied 13.5 tackles for loss while totaling four sacks. Nadim Raddar led the way for the defense, notching 14 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Devon McClain also finished with 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and eight tackles, while freshman defense tackle Daniel Gibson forced and recovered a fumble.

Carnegie Mellon: The Tartans had a tough go in their last contest, falling to Westminster College by a score of 26-16 on Saturday. In the matchup, the CMU offense had a hard time getting anything going as they tallied just 197 total yards against a stout Titan defense.

On the other side of the ball, Westminster totaled 486 yards of offense, including 289 yards rushing on the day.

CMU was led in the game by running back Sam Benger, who tallied a team-high 83 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Andrew Hearon completed 11-of-19 for 133 yards and a score.

Defensively, Drew Fitzmorris was the top tackler for the Tartans against the Titans as he tallied 13, including 11 solo stops. The Tartans also forced four turnovers in the game, including interceptions by Samer Abdelmoty and Ryan Aitken.

The series: This year’s meeting between the Bison and Tartans will mark the 42st all-time showdown between the two schools. This will be the Bison’s first trip to Carnegie Mellon since 2006. The Green & White took the previous meeting last season, ending a six-game losing skid with a 19-7 win at home. CMU currently holds a 33-8-0 advantage.

When Last They Met: The Bison and Tartans met on the field last season for the first time since the 2007 season, with Bethany hosting CMU for its annual Homecoming festivities. The Bison entered the contest riding a four-game winning streak, and walked away with a 19-7 win over the Tartans.

The first half proved to be a defensive struggle between the two programs as neither team was able to find the end zone in the opening quarter. The Tartans found the scoreboard first as Andrew Hearon posted a six-yard touchdown run. Bethany responded with a pair of Chris Ray field goals, including a 34-yarder as time expired in the first half to make the score 7-6 at the break.

The difference in the game would come in the third quarter, as Eric Blinn tallied a pair of touchdown receptions. The first came on a two-yard shovel pass from defensive tackle Nick Greer, giving the Bison a 13-7 lead. Blinn then found pay dirt again late in the third on a six-yard reception.

Offensively, the Green & White took advantage of their dominance up front, rushing for 301 total yards in the game. Overall, they finished with 486 yards of offense, led by a 160 yard performance from Holmes. Blinn caught 15 passes in the game, while totaling 137 yards and two scores.

Defensively, the Bison had their best performance to date, holding the Tartans to just seven points, and a season best 198 yards. Bethany held CMU to just 48 yards rushing on 32 attempts in the win (1.5 yards per carry).

Bethany tallied seven sacks in the contest, as well as totaling 9.0 tackles for loss. Nadim Raddar led the way with a trio of sacks while defensive tackle Eric Campbell notched two sacks, leading the team with seven total tackles.

The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Carnegie Mellon’s Rich Lackner meet for just the second time in Garvey’s three-year tenure as the Bison’s head coach. He holds a 1-0 record against Lackner, having led the Bethany to victory in their previous outing.

Garvey led the Bison to their first winning season since 2001 and first post-season appearance since 1980 when he led the Green & White to a 6-5 record in just his second season. That season, the Bison earned an appearance in the ECAC Southeast Bowl Championship against Stevenson University. Garvey currently possess a 12-13 regular season record, and is 12-14 overall in his third season as head coach.

Lackner was named the Tartans head coach in 1986 and has directed the Tartans to a 188-103-2 mark, nine conference championships and two NCAA playoff berths. Lackner became the winningest coach in 1998 in a victory over the Bison. Lackner has tallied 21 winning seasons with the Tartans with his last coming in 2012.

Scouting the Bison: Bethany enters the contest with Carnegie Mellon having flip-flopped in each of their first five weeks. Through one half of the season, the Green & White currently sit tied for seventh in the conference standings with Waynesburg and CMU. Bethany is currently 1-1 on the road this season, and 1-0 in conference play away from Bison stadium.

As a team, the Green & White currently rank seventh in the PAC in scoring offense (24.4), while sitting tenth in the conference in scoring defense (34.8). Their 353.8 yards per game sits sixth in the PAC, while they currently rank seventh in total defense (370.4).

On the offensive side, the Bison are averaging 140.8 yards per game on the ground, led by Holmes’ 93.8. The junior back currently sits sixth in total rushing yards (469), having scored five total touchdowns on the ground this season.

Through the air, the Bison are led by senior Lincon Reyes who is currently fourth in the PAC in passing yards per game (209.4). Reyes has thrown seven touchdowns this season, and is one of just four players who have currently totaled at least 1,000 passing yards. Reyes’ top target has been Blinn, who ranked first in the PAC in both receiving yards (101.6) and receptions (8.6) per game.

Scouting the Tartans: CMU enters the game having split their last two decisions, including a 35-7 win on the road at Geneva, and a loss on the road to Westminster. The Tartans have played just one home game this season, a 38-14 loss to Washington & Jefferson.

Carnegie Mellon ranks ninth in the conference standings in points per game, averaging 22.2 per contest. On the defensive front, the Tartans currently rank seventh, allowing 29.0 points per game. CMU ranks in the top half of the PAC standings in yards per game (373.5), while sitting 10th in total defense allowed (466.5).

The Tartans currently boast the conference’s top rushing offense, averaging 224.8 yards per game on the ground. CMU is just one of two programs in the PAC to average over five yards per carry (5.4). Sophomore Sam Benger is the big reason for the early success, as he averages 196.0 yards per game on the ground. His six touchdowns currently rank third, while his 7.6 yards per carry are third among conference leaders.