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Bison Football Opens PAC Play At Geneva

September, 11 – The Bethany College football team (0-1) will look to rebound from a 33-28 defeat at the hands of Centre College when they travel to Beaver Falls, Pa. to play under the lights against the Golden Tornadoes of Geneva College on Saturday, September 14 at 8 p.m.

Last time out

Last week, the Bison nearly pulled of a come-from-behind victory against Centre College. Trailing 30-9 at the beginning of the third quarter, Bethany rattled off 19 straight points, which included rushing touchdowns by senior Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) and juniors Phil Acrie (Verona, Pa./Linsley) and Brandon Hill (McKeesport, Pa./Elizabeth Forward).

With the defense being able to keep the Colonels at bay by forcing two turnovers in the Bethany red-zone, the Bison had the ball with one last opportunity to score the go-ahead touchdown.

With a fourth-and-three from the Centre seven-yard line, Grimard threw one to the end-zone that was picked off by a Centre defender, and the Bison fell, 33-28.

In the game, Grimard was able to throw the ball all-around the field as he connected on 27 passes for 339 yards. On the receiving end of a good number of those passes was sophomore Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver). The wideout caught 11 balls for 130 yards.

The big key in the game was the special teams’ play, something the head coach Bill Garvey says can be improved upon.

“We had a tough time getting things going on the special teams,” remarked Garvey. “We missed three extra points, one of which was blocked, and botched a punt which led to a safety. That right there is a five point swing, which was the total that we lost by.

“I thought we came back strong in the game, and that the mental and physical toughness that our players showed can really be a strong factor for us down the road.”

Meet the Golden Tornadoes

This week, the Bison turn their sights on Geneva College. The Golden Tornadoes (1-0) are coming off a 47-3 victory over Frostburg State University. Geneva, who returned 37 letterwinners from a team that ranked first in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in total yards per game (402.5), is a team that Coach Garvey says is as dangerous as anyone in the conference.

“On the offensive side of the ball, they are as talented as anyone in the PAC,” remarked Garvey of the Golden Tornadoes. “They have a lot of talent and have a few very experienced players on both sides of the ball.”

Two of those experienced players are seniors Zach Hayward and Rocco Colavecchia. Hayward, a second-team all conference selection last season, ranked second in the conference in total passing yards (2,022) and touchdowns (16); both numbers which trailed only Grimard.

“Hayward is a very experienced quarterback,” said Garvey. “He doesn’t beat himself too often and has a great amount of discipline from the quarterback position.

“The team really spreads the ball around and he has a lot of weapons out there at his disposal.”

Probably Hayward’s biggest weapon is Colavecchia, who is a multi-facet player in the running and passing game.

“Colavercchia is a strong, physical guy,” stated Garvey. “He has the tools to be one of the top players in the conference this year, and we just need to be disciplined, stay in our lanes, and make good form tackles when he has the ball, to try to limit his impact.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Golden Tornadoes ranked eighth in the conference in passing yardage allowed per game, giving up almost 200-yards through the air.

“On of the things that Geneva likes to do is to make you throw,” remarked Garvey. “They are very soild fundamentally and use multiple looks to try to make you be one-dimensional and throw over the top.”

Geneva’s Last Time Out

In Geneva’s first contest of the 2013 campaign, the Golden Tornadoes put up 488 total yards of offense in a 47-3 route of Frostburg State. Hayward threw for 266 yards and two scores, while the team also got rushing touchdowns from Dylan Jones, Kellen Mackey, and two from Colavecchia.

Geneva also held Frostburg State to just 248 yards of offense, including only 117 through the air on route to the 44-point victory.

All-Time Series

Saturday will mark the 41st all-time meeting between the Bison and Golden Tornadoes with Bethany trailing in the series, 11-28-1. However, it has been the Bison that have had the upper hand recently, defeating Geneva 42-36 in 2012 and before that, 48-27 in 2011.

Last Meeting

Bethany and Geneva played a tough game in 2012, needing overtime to settle the score in what was an eventual 42-26 win by the Bison. In the contest, it was the Golden Tornado rushing attack vs. the Bison aerial assault. Geneva ran for 255 yards in the game, including 138 from Colavecchia. Bethany countered with 343 yards passing and four touchdowns by Grimard, which included two to Ed Holmes, and one a piece to Chris Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) and Eric Blinn. Blinn also eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark, catching seven balls for 121 yards.

With Bethany up 36-29 in the waning seconds, Heyward connected on his only touchdown pass of the day: a 41-yard Hail Mary pass to Colavecchia that sent the game into overtime. However, just two plays into the overtime frame, the Bison responded, as Grimard connected with Holmes on a 24-yard touchdown pass which would prove to be the game-winning score.

Keys to the Game

When the Bison and Golden Tornadoes take the field for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference’s first conference game of the year, here are a few keys to the contest:

Passing Attack

Look for the Bison offense to get plenty of chances through the air against the Geneva defense. Over the past three seasons, Grimard has totaled 41 completions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns against Geneva.

“We have to be willing to take what the defense gives us,” remarked Garvey. “In the past they have done a really great job of stopping the run, and that typically gives us opportunities to go up top.

“On of our biggest strengths is the ability to get the ball to the perimeter to our wideouts and to let them make plays. Because of talent that Matt (Grimard) possesses, we have more of an opportunity to that.”


“I feel as though we didn’t stay disciplined enough in the first half of the game last week, and the game got out of hand for us,” stated Garvey. “This week, we are going against a very experienced club who gives a lot of different looks on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

“It’s going to be extremely important for us to not beat ourselves with costly fumbles and penalties. If we handle things internally, we feel like there is a great chance for us to come out of there with the win.”

One of the Nation’s Best

When Grimard takes the field on Saturday he will do so as the number two active leader in all of Division III in total offense. Grimard currently sits at 8,525 yards, just 151 yards behind current leader, Keith Welch of Lewis & Clark College.

Grimard also ranks second in the country in career total touchdowns (79), fourth in passing yards (6,702) and completions (550). Matt has also accounted for 46.29 plays per contest (passing + rushing attempts) over his career, which is the highest in all of Division III among active leaders.

“Matt is such a talented player,” said Coach Garvey of his senior signal caller. “He does things that not a lot of people can do at the QB position and makes them look so easy at times.

“He has been a great asset to the team over the last four years, and it has been fun getting to watch him mature into the player that he is today.”


Before Saturday’s game, Bethany President, Dr. Scott D. Miller, along with Director of Athletics, Brian Rose will join Geneva’s President, Kenneth A. Smith, Ph.D., and Athletic Director Van Zanic, as well as PAC Commissioner, Joe Onderko on the field for the honorary coin toss to kick of the 2013 conference season.