Nov. 12 – BETHANY, W. Va. – In a season that has seen some ups and downs, the Bison football team will culminate its 2013 campaign with a trip to Latrobe, Pa. to take on the Bearcats of Saint Vincent College on Saturday, November 16.
Bethany will look to stop a three-game losing skid as it takes on the Bearcats for just the seventh time. The Bison hold a 5-1 record over the Bearcats, including a 54-27 victory at Bison Stadium in 2012.
“Saturday is a must win for us,” said first-year head coach Bill Garvey. “We want to make sure that we go out on a high note, and get back to .500 in conference play. We have had a roller coaster ride of a season, and we want to make sure that we send our seniors off with a victory.”
Last Time Out
In Bethany’s previous contest, the Bison were defeated, 49-14, at the hands of Thomas More College on November 9. Bethany scored 14 of the game’s first 21 points, but were outscored 42-0 the rest of the way, including a 21-0 disadvantage in the second half.
The defense set up the offense in the first half of play, forcing two Saints turnovers, which included fumble recoveries by Jarrett Rahymes (Colquitt, Ga./Miller County) and Chris Burg (Martinsburg, W. Va./Martinsburg). The short fields that were provided from the turnovers allowed Bethany two notch two touchdown passes from Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut). One, a three-yarder to Jaylen Jennings (Indian Head, Md./Henry E. Lackey); the other, a two-yard hookup with Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver), to give Bethany the 14-7 lead.
The Saints would fire back with 21-straight points in the first half, and would continue the barrage in the second half. Holding Bethany to just five possessions, which included three punts and two interceptions, on route to handing the Bison the 49-14 defeat.
“Our offense did not help out our defense last week,” remarked Garvey. “Anytime you can’t move the ball, or put yourself into a deep hole on third downs, you can’t convert and it keeps your defense on the field. Anytime that happens, especially against a quality opponent, they are going to capitalize at some point, and that is what happened last week.”
The Bearcats come into the contest winless on the season, having dropped a 36-26 decision to Grove City College in their previous outing.
In the contest, the Bearcats outgained Grove City 419-298, gaining 274 yards through the air. Quarterback Andy Borgen finished the day 29-45 with two scores, hooking up with Alex Charles for one score and Rob O’Hearn for the other. Charles finished with seven catches for 108 yards.
Tale of the Tape
The Bison come into the contest with the highest rated passing offense in the conference, averaging 298.7 yards per game. Grimard, who recently broke the Bethany single-season mark in passing completions (230) and passing yards (2,684) also leads the PAC in passing yards, and is third in passing touchdowns, with 17.
His biggest weapon in the passing game has been Blinn this season, as the sophomore wideout has made 83 catches for 1,033 yards, becoming just the second Bison receiver all-time to break the 1,000 yard mark. Jennings has also had a nice 2013 campaign for the Bison, hauling in 39 catches for 511 yards and six touchdowns. His six scores tie him for third in the conference in receiving touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bison come into the contest ranked fifth in passing defense, as opponents are averaging 244.4 per game through the air. Individually, Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) ranks 10th in the conference in total tackles (73) while freshman Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) ranks fourth in both sacks (7.0) and tackles for loss (12.0).
The Bearcats come into the game ranked last in the PAC in total offense (246.9 yards) scoring offense (11.1 points) and rushing offense (75.8 yards) per game. Borgen has completed 56 percent of his passes this season, connecting on six touchdown passes over the course of the year. His top wideout is Matt Duffey who has made a team-high, 37 catches for 380 yards and two scores.
On the defensive side, the Bearcats rank second in the PAC in passing defense, holding opponents to just 206.3 yards per game through the air. However, Saint Vincent also ranks eighth in rushing defense, allowing 194.0 yards per contest.
Individually, Saint Vincent is led by Renny LaRue-Holloman who ranks fifth in the conference in total tackles (86). LaRue-Holloman has also forced and recovered two fumbles on the year, ranking him in the top ten in the PAC in both of those categories.
Key to the Game
One of coach Garvey’s biggest keys to the contest is for the offense to be more efficient on first and second down. Over the team’s three-game slide, the Bison are 17-of-54 on third-down conversions, something that Coach Garvey believes is based off the problems the team has on early downs.
“Anytime you put yourself into third and manageable situations, it makes it easier to convert and to keep the defense guessing,” remarked Garvey. “Unfortunately over the past few weeks, we have had the problem of shooting ourselves in the foot on first and second downs. Whether it’ because of penalties, or just poor play execution, we have found ourselves in third-and-long situations too often.”
The Bison converted just 31% of their third-down plays in the last three contests, compared to 43 percent during their three game winning streak earlier this season.
“We just need to play inside ourselves this weekend,” commented Garvey. “We can’t make costly mistakes, because any team in this conference is capable of beating any other team on any given weekend.
“If we go out and stick to the things that have made us successful, namely being efficient in our offensive game plan, I am confident that we can come out on top in this contest.”