Oct. 14 – BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College football team (1-5, 0-4 PAC) will hop the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border to take on Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) rival Washington & Jefferson (4-1, 2-1 PAC) on Saturday October 15 at Cameron Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
For the second week in a row the Bison will take on a team on the fringe of the national polls. The Presidents’ are receiving votes in both the D3Football.com and AFCA Top 25 polls.
“We have to be focused,” Head Coach Bill Garvey said. “That’s part of playing college football in this conference. The way we are being challenged week-in and week-out is certainly only going to help us in the future, but you have to be ready to play every single week. We have to be mature about it, move forward and come ready to work every single day to get ourselves ready to win a football game, no matter who we play.”
The Bison forced four turnovers this past Saturday, but were defeated 37-14 by Case Western Reserve. Despite its record, Bethany ranks third in NCAA Division III with 20 turnovers forced and is tied for ninth in turnover margin (+9).
“We aren’t executing in key situations,” Garvey added. “We won the turnover battle last week, but if you look at the penalty differential it was quite high. It’s good that we are creating turnovers, but we aren’t doing great in other statistical categories that matter as well. Those are the things we are working on.”
Three of those turnovers were forced by senior linebacker Donavan Hayden (Hyattsville, Md./Northwestern). He was named the PAC Defensive Player of the Week for the second-time in 2016 after he returned an interception for a touchdown, forced two fumbles, added a sack and had a career-best 20 tackles in the team’s Homecoming loss. He leads the PAC and ranks second nationally in both tackles (86) and solo tackles (45) this season.
“His leadership means everything to the younger guys,” said Garvey on his linebacker. “Especially since we are struggling, the way he comes out and leads by example with his play and his enthusiasm goes to show you how much it matters to him. It will become very important for the young guys to play for him and match that and, as they move along in their own careers, remember how he’s doing it right now.”
Washington & Jefferson is coming off of a 55-52 double-overtime win over Carnegie Mellon. Presidents’ quarterback Pete Coughlin was named the PAC and ECAC South Offensive Player of the Week after he threw seven touchdown passes and ran for another. Coughlin accounted for 441 yards of total offense (340 passing, 111 rushing) in the game.
“We have to make sure we keep our mistakes to a minimum,” Garvey said. “When the opportunity shows we have to capitalize quickly. We can’t let those slide by the wayside.”
The Presidents hold the all-time series advantage, 71-21, dating back to the first meeting between the two schools in 1896. Washington & Jefferson Head Coach Mike Sirianni, now in his 14th season, holds a 12-1 record against the Bison.