Sept. 17 – BETHANY, W. Va. – After a weekend that featured high powered offense, the Bison football program will look to get back on track after a 51-33 defeat at the hands of Geneva College. Bethany will return home for its' first game at Bison Stadium this year as the Bison host the Yellow Jackets of Randolph-Macon at 1 p.m.
Last Time Out
In the Bison’s previous contest, Bethany was up-ended by the Golden Tornadoes of Geneva College, 51-33. In the game, both teams’ offenses took center stage as the two programs combined for 84 points and 1,270 total yards. The Bison outgained the Golden Tornadoes through the air (462-417) but Geneva held the advantage on the ground (248-143).
“There was a lot of great offensive talent out there for both teams last week,” remarked first-year head coach, Bill Garvey, “Our offense looked great. We have a lot of talented players out there at the skill positions, and our offense really showed it last time out.”
Senior quarterbacks Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) and Geneva’s Zack Hayward went toe-to-toe in the contest, registering 462 yards and 417 yards passing, respectively. Grimard moved the ball around nicely, connecting to five different receivers; each of which made at least one reception of over 20 yards.
Catching over half of Grimard’s aerials was sophomore wideout Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver), who set the Bison school record with 16 receptions over the course of the game. He also totaled 183 yards and a touchdown in the contest.
“Eric is a special talent,” said Coach Garvey, “he was double-teamed for most of the night on Saturday, but he always found a way to get open, and Matt found ways to get him the ball. He has really flourished as our number one receiver and it was great to see him break the record.”
For the Bison’s home opener, Bethany will host the Yellow-Jackets of Randolph-Macon, a team, which Coach Garvey says, is a bit different from the teams they have played recently.
“When you look at Randolph-Macon, they aren’t like Center or Geneva, who typically like to spread the field and rely more on their passing game,” remarked Garvey. “This team makes no secret that they like to run the ball. Sometimes they will line up with two backs, two tight ends, and just attempt to run the ball down your throat.”
Last week, the Yellow Jackets bounced back from a 38-14 opening-day defeat at the hands of Johns Hopkins, with a 33-6 victory over Averett College. In the win, the Yellow Jackets posted 216 total yards rushing, which included 123 yards from the team’s leading rusher, Will McGhee. McGhee also scored twice in the contest.
The Yellow Jacket defense was also on top of their game in the win, holding Averett to just 55 net rushing yards and 179 yards passing.
In the Bison’s last meeting with the Yellow Jackets, the first-ever between the two programs, Randolph-Macon came away with the 49-33 victory in Ashland, Va. The Yellow Jackets used a stout rushing attack to gain 281 total yards on the ground, while finishing with 510 yards of total offense. The Bison countered with 211 yards rushing, their highest rushing output of the season, to go along with 239 passing yards.
Individually, Grimard led the way for the Bison, totaling 124 yards rushing and three scores on the ground to go with one passing touchdown, which was completed to Ed Holmes. The Yellow Jackets saw two different rushers break the 100-yard barrier against the Bison, as Will McGhee (148) and Drake Sanders (116) split time in the backfield.
Tale of the tape
The Bison come into the contest ranked second in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in total yards per game, averaging 513.5 yards per game, and is also the top rated passing offense in the conference at 400.5 yards per contest. Bethany is averaging 30.5 points per game and ranks sixth in the conference in rushing yards per game (113.0).
Individually, Matt Grimard leads all players in the conference in total yards per game (411.5) and also ranks first in passing yardage (400.5). Blinn also leads the conference in two different categories as he is the top man in both receptions per game (13.5) as well as receiving yardage per contest (156.5).
On the defensive side, the Bison rank eighth in the conference in total yardage allowed but are second in the conference in interceptions with three.
Larry Kpadehyea (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) leads all Bison and is fourth in the conference in total tackles with 21 and freshman Kahllid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) is second in the PAC in sacks, having registered 2.5 so far this season. Dion Williams (Clinton, Md./Frederick Douglass) has also made his mark early in the year, ranking first in the conference, and is tied for second in the country with a pair of interceptions.
The Yellow Jackets come into the game ranked seventh in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) in total yardage (316 ypg), ranking seventh in passing yards (180.0) and sixth in the run game (136.0 ypg). The Yellow Jackets have scored 23.5 points per game over their first two contests, which is also good for seventh in the ODAC.
Defensively, Randolph-Macon also ranks seventh in the conference in total yards allowed, giving up 392.5 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets allow teams to gain 264 yards per game through the air while allowing 128.5 per game on the ground.
Keys to the game
“We need to stop beating ourselves with costly penalties,” remarked Coach Garvey. “Anytime you get pre-snap and post-snap penalties, it boils down to a lack of focus and discipline.”
Despite gaining over 500 yards of offense per game, the Bison are also averaging 109 yards in penalties per contest; something which Coach Garvey believes can be fixed.
“It has been a focus for us this week,” said Garvey. “We just need to make sure we keep every person accountable for what they do on the field and we will see the penalty numbers go down, and with it, we will see more success on the field.”
Battle In The Trenches
When the Bison and Yellow Jackets take the field on Saturday, one of the biggest keys could be who can control the line of scrimmage better.
“Our defensive line against their offensive line will be a huge key for us on Saturday,” remarked Garvey. “They have a solid run game and it is part of their identity that they really commit to running the football. They have had success in the past, and they had a lot of success at it last week.
“We need to maintain the line of scrimmage by staying focused on defense, staying disciplined and staying with our defensive assignments on the field. If we do that we have a great shot at controlling the line.”
Air It Out
The Bison have had great success this year in their passing game. This year, the Bison rank third in the country in passing yards per game (400.5) and Matt Grimard ranks first in all of Division III in total passing yards with 801.
Along with those numbers, Grimard also set four more school records last week. The senior QB now sits at 56 touchdown passes, which past Bob Fromm for first all-time. He also passed the single game passing-yard record (462) as well as the total yardage mark (482) against the Golden Tornadoes last week.
His favorite target, Blinn, is also gaining recognition around the country. Besides breaking the single-game mark for receptions last week with 16, the sophomore wideout also ranks second in the country in receptions (27) and is fifth in all of Division III in receiving yards, with 319 through just two games.
For those who can not make it to the Bison’s home opener, a live video broadcast, provided by the Bethany Broadcasting Network (BBN) can be found free of charge, here.
During halftime of the contest, the Bethany College marching band, nicknamed “The Stampede” will make their debut. Also Bethany College will be honoring basketball players from the 1963-64 who finished the season 18-0 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of their PAC Championship.