Oct. 23 – BETHANY, W. Va. – Coming off its’ third-consecutive victory, a 27-20 win over Waynesburg University, the Bison football team returns home to take on the Titans of Westminster College on Saturday. Bethany comes into the game at 3-1 in the PAC while the Titans are 2-4 and 1-3 in the PAC.
This will be the 52nd meeting all-time between Bethany and Westminster, with the Titans holding a 38-11-2 advantage. In the most recent contest, Westminster posted a 45-28 win in New Wilmington last season.
Last Time Out
The Bison are coming off their third-straight victory, having defeated Waynesburg University, 27-20, last week. In the game, the Bison trailed 20-13 in the fourth quarter before outscoring Waynesburg, 14-0 in the final frame, thanks to two touchdowns from Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) to Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver).
With the Bison staring down a fourth-and-goal from the Waynesburg three-yard line, Grimard found Blinn on a back-shoulder pass in the end zone to knot the game at 20-20.
Later in the quarter, Waynesburg drove the ball down to the Bison eight-yard line and lined up for the go-ahead field goal with 2:27 to play in the contest. Bethany’s Dion Williams (Clinton, Md./Frederick Douglass) was able to get a hand on the kick for the block which was then recovered by Wysmmy Despagne (Riverdale, Md./Parkdale) to give Bethany the ball on its’ own two-yard line with 2:20 to play.
Grimard got the Bison out from the shadow of their own end zone with a read-option run that gained 12-yards down to the Bethany 14. Three-plays later, on third-and-10, Bethany picked up another first down, this time on a swing pass to Brandon Hill (McKeesport, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) picking up 18 yards to the Bison 32-yard line. Three plays later, Grimard and Blinn hooked up again, this time on a 68-yard pitch-and-catch that Blinn took the distance, notching the game-winning touchdown with just 20 seconds to play.
“It was such a great drive,” said head coach Bill Garvey. “It was probably one of the worst situations to be in, backed up that far in our own zone, because one bad play or a punt gives them the ball right back with a chance to try to win the game again.
“On Blinn’s play, we were just going for the first down and trying to get to the sideline because we had no timeouts left. The defense cut the sideline off from him, so he spun up field and made something special happen. Great players have the ability to make big plays when the team needs them most, and Blinn did just that.”
In the game, the defense had arguably the biggest impact on the contest, as the Bison “D” held Waynesburg to just 13 points in the first half, despite the Bison offense turning the ball over three times.
“Our defense really kept us in the game,” remarked Coach Garvey. “If it weren’t for their play in stopping a really good defense, we could have easily been down two or three scores at the half, but they have really come into their own the last couple of week, and are playing very good football.”
Individually, Grimard played a stellar game, completing 33-of-46 passes to eight different receivers. He totaled 369 yards passing and added 43 yards on the ground to give him his third 400+ total yard performance of the season, while passing for four touchdowns.
Blinn was back to his old tricks as he caught 11 of Grimards’ throws for 153 yards and two touchdowns. It was the fourth time this season that Blinn has hauled in 10+ catches and the third in which he eclipsed the 150+ yard mark.
For his efforts with the blocked kick and on special teams the whole day, Williams was named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference as well as the Corvias-Eastern College Athletic Conference Southwest Special Teams Player of the Week.
The Titans of Westminster are coming off a 38-6 defeat at the hands of Washington & Jefferson in New Wilmington. In the contest, the Titans were outgained 490-299, while allowing the Presidents’ to gain 197 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Dak Britt finished the contest 22-of-38 for 247 yards and a touchdown, while his primary target, Collin Wallace, made 11 of those catches for a game-high 175 yards and a score.
Defensively, Nate Moot led all players with 15 total tackles while Blake Otterson totaled 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the contest.
In the two team’s previous contest, the Titans scored a season-high, 45 points, as they handed the Bison a 45-28 loss in New Wilmington. Westminster outscored the Bison 24-7 in the middle two quarters to take the 17-point victory.
In the game, Westminster controlled the ground, racking up a net total of 395 yards rushing. On just 36 carries, the Titans averaged 11.0 yards per carry, and had two players rack up 150+ yards rushing. Tyler Banks finished with 195 yards and two scores, while Britt contributed 160, while also scoring twice.
The Bison used an areal attack to combat the Westminster ground game, as Grimard finished with 357 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also added 78 yards on the ground to give him 435 total yards in the game.
As a freshman last season, Blinn lead all receivers in the game, notching ten catches for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Tale of the tape
Bethany comes into this week’s contest as winners of three-straight, having upended Grove City, Washington & Jefferson and Waynesburg in its’ previous three games. The Bison currently boast the conference’s most prolific passing offense, totaling 341.8 yards per game through the air. Grimard currently stand as just one of four quarterbacks in the country that have currently eclipsed 2,000 yards passing and currently has thrown for 2,051 yards and 12 touchdowns, while completing 62.7 percent of his passes. Grimard currently ranks second in NCAA Division III in total career yards among active leaders as he has amassed 10,450 yards.
As Grimard’s number one target, Blinn has already surpassed his season totals from last year and currently has amassed 62 receptions and 839 receiving yards through just six games this season, both which lead the conference. Blinn also currently ranks second in the PAC in all-purpose yards per game with 203.3, behind only Domonique Hayden of Thomas More.
Defensively, The Bison have allowed just 19.5 points per game over their last two contests and currently rank sixth in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score 31.7 per game.
Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) currently sits at seventh in the conference in tackles with 53, while Aaron Frye (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) (45) and Chris Burg (Martinsburg, W. Va./Martinsburg) (42) rank 12th and 13th, respectively. Frye also ranks third amongst all defensive backs in that category.
After registering two sacks in the victory over Waynesburg, freshman Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) is currently tied for second in the PAC in sacks with 7.0.
For the Titans, Westminster comes into the contest averaging 16.8 points per game, while allowing 26.8 points per game on defense.
The Titans currently rank fourth in the PAC in passing yards per game, averaging 258.5 yards per contest. Britt has totaled 1,530 yards on the year while completing 58 percent of his passes. Despite ranking fourth in the PAC in catches per game, receiver Collin Wallace ranks second in the PAC in receiving yards per game (121.8).
“Westminster has some very talented players on the offensive side of the ball,” remarked Garvey. “As they proved last year, they can really run the ball, and Britt is a dual-threat QB who can make a lot of great plays. We have to be very disciplined when it comes to our containment of him.”
On defense, the Titans boast the third-stingiest run defense in the conference, allowing just 135.5 yards per game on the ground. However, Westminster also ranks seventh in the PAC in passing yardage allowed per game, giving up 257.5 through the air.
Keys to the Game
When asked what he believed to be the biggest key of the game, Coach Garvey replied: “Control what you can control. The biggest thing for us coming into this game is to not try to do too much. If we play within ourselves and keep each other accountable on every play, there is no reason why we can’t keep this winning streak going.”
Air It Out
Against a Westminster defense that has allowed 275.5 yards per game through the air, look for the Bison offense to test the Titans on the perimeter.
“We have possibly one of the deepest and most talented group of skill players that we have ever had in my tenure here,” remarked Garvey. “We have six or seven different players who we can get the ball to in tough spots and feel confident that they will make a play for us.”
Besides Blinn, four other Bison receivers have made at least 12 catches and caught a touchdown pass this season. Senior Chris Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) has hauled in 26 receptions for 282 yards and a team-high four scores. Jaylen Jennings (Indian Head, Md./Henry E. Lackey) has posted 24 catches for 355 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest) has totaled 16 catches for 290 yards, and leads the team with 18.1 yards per catch.
“We have so many guys that can make plays out there, it allows Grimmard to go through actual progressions. We don’t have to just rely on Blinn, because we have so many different playmakers that can do big things for us on the field.”