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Bison Football Outlasts Waynesburg In PAC Showdown

Sept. 27 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College football team (3-1, 2-0 PAC) kept the good times rolling, as they won their third-straight contest, a 33-27 victory over Waynesburg University on Saturday evening at Bison Stadium. The 3-1 start to open the season marks the Bison’s best start since the 2001 campaign.

The Bison opened the scoring on their first drive of the game, using a 15-play drive to take an early lead. Bethany used 11 run plays and four pass plays to drive 81 yards down the field. The big play came on a 14-yard run from senior Brandon Hill (McKeesport, Pa./Elizabeth Forward), which put the Bison down on the Waynesburg one-yard line. Hill then received the ball again and found the end zone from one-yard out to take a 6-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, the Bison were able to extend the advantage further, using a seven-play, 45-yard drive. Taking over on the Waynesburg 45-yard line after a solid punt return from junior Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver), the Bison used two big plays from sophomore quarterback Brian Vales (Pittsburgh, Pa./Avonworth) to get into the Yellow Jacket red zone. The first was a 19-yard pitch-and-catch from Vales to Blinn down to the Waynesburg 25-yard line. Two plays later, Vales made it happen with his feet, scampering for 13 yards, down to the Yellow Jacket eight. Three plays later, junior defensive lineman Brandon Barnes (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver) did his best William “Refrigerator” Perry impression, taking his first career rushing attempt into the end zone to give Bethany the 13-0 lead.

The Bison would add one more score in the first half, this time needing just four plays. After two first down runs by Hill got the Bison down to the Waynesburg 41, the Bison used a well-timed screen play to Blinn, who took the ball the rest of the way to find pay dirt. For the second time in the game, the Bison failed to convert on the extra point, but would end up going into the half with a 19-0 lead.

During the course of the first half, Blinn was the primary target, as the junior caught nine passes for 123 yard and a touchdown. With his ninth catch in the first half, Blinn became the career record holder for receptions at Bethany, surpassing Matt Cruse’s 177 which he set between 2006-09. Blinn needed just 24 games to accomplish the feat.

“Blinn is a special talent,” commented second-year head coach Bill Garvey. “The great thing about what he is doing this year is that week in and week out, other teams plan for him. Blinn always gets the best of the best from other team’s defenses, and he always seems to find a way to make things happen.”

The Bison completely dominated the first half over Waynesburg, holding the Yellow Jackets to just 89 total yards on 34 plays in the half.

Waynesburg came out swinging in the second half, scoring the first two touchdowns of the third quarter to cut the Bison lead to 19-13 mid way through the third frame. After the Yellow Jacket’s second score, the Bison needed just five plays to respond. One play after getting the Bison to midfield, Vales uncorked a 50-yard touchdown pass to Chris Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline), his second passing score of 40+ yards, to give Bethany a 13-point advantage (26-13).

Just two offensive plays later, the Yellow Jackets responded, as running back Jake Forsythe notched a 70-yard touchdown run to once again cut the Bethany lead to six, at 26-20.

Bethany would once again extend the advantage, using the end of the third quarter and the opening two minutes of the fourth to go nine plays and score what would prove to be the game winner. The standout play for the Bison came on a fourth-and-five from the Waynesburg 23. Vales could find no one open on a roll out and scrambled the necessary yardage for the first down. He also picked up a total of 17 yards on the play, setting up the Green & White with a first and goal from the Waynesburg six. One play later, Hill found the end zone for the second time in the game, giving Bethany the 33-20 advantage.

Waynesburg would once again respond, cutting the Bison lead to 33-27 with 9:43 remaining. Bethany was able to take 5:40 off the clock in the fourth frame, but was still forced to punt the ball away to Waynesburg with 4:03 left on the clock.

After forcing the Yellow Jackets to use 4:42 seconds of clock time, the Bison had the Yellow Jackets facing a fourth-and-eight from the Bethany 19. Carter Hill’s pass intended for Bernie Thompson fell incomplete, but a defensive holding penalty gave Waynesburg new life with just 15 seconds remaining.

With a first-and-goal situation from the ten-yard line, the Bison defense forced two incomplete passes which set up a third-and-goal with .9 seconds remaining on the clock. On the third-down play, Hill tried to force the ball into the end zone, and the pass was picked off by junior linebacker Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) to seal the victory for the Green & White.

“Our guys never quit out there,” commented Garvey. “Waynesburg did a nice job of making their adjustments and coming back in the second half. However, our defense was able to pull out the big play when they needed to. Larry made a heck of a play on the ball.”

The victory marked the third time in the last two years at Bison Stadium that the Green & White defense has picked off a pass to seal a victory. Last season Channan Scott’s (Willow Grove, Pa./Abington) interception gave Bethany a 34-31 win over Grove City, and Aaron Frye’s (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) interception in the end zone helped the Bison defeat W&J, 24-19, in back-to-back weeks.

In the win, the Bison showed great balance offensively, as they finished the game with 495 total yards of offense. Bethany finished the contest with 231 yards rushing, a season high, and combined that with 264 yards passing.

Hill had a career day for Bethany, finishing the game with 148 yards rushing and two touchdowns and 28 carries, all of which were career highs. Vales finished with 60 yards on the ground while adding 264 yards passing. He finished the day 24-of-31 with two touchdowns.

In the receiving game, Blinn led the way with 12 catches for 145 yards and a score. Freshman Terry Linyard (Jersey City, N.J./Lincoln) caught seven passes for 57 yards, while Collins finished with two catches for 58 yards and a score.

Defensively, Kpadehyea led the Green & White with 12 total tackles. He also added 1.5 tackles for loss a pass breakup and the interception which sealed the win. Junior Nadim Raddar (Laurel, Md./Old Mill) finished the day with nine tackles, including one for loss. Senior Nick Greer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) led the team in both tackles for loss (2.0) and sacks (1.5).

The victory for the Bison moved the team to 3-1 on the year, which marks their best start since the 2001 campaign. It is also the first time that Bethany has started 2-0 in conference play since the ’01 season. The Bison’s three-straight wins mark just the fourth time since 2001 that they have accomplished that feat. Two of the occasions, however, have been in the first two years of Coach Garvey’s tenure.

The Bison will look for win number four on Saturday, Oct. 4 as they travel to Cleveland, Ohio for a contest with new conference member Case Western Reserve University. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 p.m.