Sept. 3 – BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College football team defeated Ursinus, 23-13 in the 2016 season opener at Bison Stadium Saturday afternoon.
During the contest, sophomore Daulton Freeman (St. Clairsville, Ohio) set a new Bethany single-game record with three interceptions. In a stalemate first quarter, the longest drive yardage wise was Ursinus' four-play, 38-yard drive, but that ended with Freeman's first pick of the game in Bethany territory.
To start the second quarter, the Bison defense had a big momentum swing on fourth and one, when Ursinus attempted to get the first down but senior safety Aaron Frye (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) knocked the pass away from the would-be receiver to give the ball back to the hosts on their own 10-yard line.
With that swing, the Bethany offense went to work with two big passes from junior QB Chase Kinemond (Shadyside, Ohio). The first was a third down and long pass to Shaquille Ellis (Greenville, S.C./Southside) for 20 yards, followed by a 25-yard pass to senior Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest) to put the Bison at midfield. From there, Bethany would only get to the visitors 35-yard line before having to punt.
However, lightning struck on their next drive after the Bethany defense forced a three-and-out.
Kinemond found junior TE Dustin Hess (Upper St. Clair, Pa.) to start the drive and from there, the Bison offense would not be stopped. Following rushes of 14 and 16 yards from Jalen Holmes (New Castle, Pa.), the senior tailback pounded in the first score of the game from four yards out. After the extra point was blocked, Bethany led 6-0.
On the ensuing drive, Ursinus looked to be in sync to start with a 15-yard pass to get to midfield before the very next play, when sophomore defensive lineman Nate Daniels (Crooksville, Ohio) forced a fumble. It was scooped up by senior linebacker Donovan Hayden (Hyattsville, Md./Northwestern) and ran back 40 yards for a touchdown, and with the good PAT, it was now 13-0 Bison.
With still six minutes before the break, Ursinus put together a four-play, 67 yard drive, highlighted by a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Thomas Garlick to Asa Manley, making the score 13-7 with just over five minutes to play.
The two teams would trade four consecutive non-scoring drives which in-between, saw Freeman pick up his second interception of the afternoon. On Bethany's final drive, junior kicker Chris Ray (Henrico, Va./Mills E. Goodwin) connected on a 37-yard field goal to close out the first half with Bethany leading 16-7.
The third quarter started out much like the first two, with Freeman picking off his third pass of the game on Ursinus' first drive to set a new school record in interceptions in a single game. That broke the record of two, which most recently occurred in 2012.
Aside from that turnover, the third quarter was much like the first with both teams going back-and-forth but neither side could find pay dirt.
Just after the start of the fourth quarter, that would all change when Garlick connected with Carmen Fortino on an 85-yard pass down the sideline for their second score of the day. However, Bethany sophomore defensive lineman Daniel Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) would block the extra point, keeping their lead to three, 16-13.
After a fumble by Ursinus inside Bethany territory on their next drive, the Bison knew they needed to put the game away. With just under nine minutes to play, Bethany went 65 yards on 14 plays and picked up a score on a quarterback keeper by Kinemond from 12 yards out to put the Bison up 23-13 with only 2:48 left to play.
From there, Bethany would finish the game out to pick up their first opening day win since 2011 when they defeated Allegheny 28-7.
Leading the Bison offensively was Kinemond, who threw for 180 yards on 21 completions and a touchdown. The junior also picked up 28 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown. Holmes picked up 85 yards behind a solid offensive line, who also helped on a score for the tailback. The leading receiver for Bethany was Ambush, who caught eight passes for 85 yards while senior wideout Robert Seman (Canfield, Ohio/South Range) had five catches for 53 yards.
The defense held up their end of the bargain, being led by Hayden with 10 tackles, including three for a loss, two sacks and the fumble recovery for a touchdown. Freeman, along with his three interceptions, tallied eight tackles, while freshman linebacker Colin Johnston (Belle Vernon, Pa.) and Gibson each recorded seven stops.
With the win, the Bison start the season 1-0 with Ursinus dropping to 0-1. Next week, Bethany travels to Beaver Falls, Pa. to take on Geneva in a night game, with kickoff for the non-conference game slated for 7 p.m.