Oct. 31 – BETHANY, W. Va. - In a day that celebrated the Bethany College senior class, it was junior Jalen Holmes (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) that stole the show as the Bison football team trounced Grove City College, 58-26, on Saturday afternoon.
Holmes ran wild on the Wolverine defense, racking up a career-high 341 yards rushing on 26 carries while scoring a career-best four touchdowns. In the span of the contest, Holmes shattered four records, including the Presidents’ Athletic Conference single-game rushing yardage record, previously held by Thomas More tailback Dominique Hayden.
Along with the conference record, Holmes knocked down three school marks, including the single-game rushing yardage record of 292 which was set by Ernie Whitted in 1969. The feature back also became the single-season rushing leader in school history in both touchdowns (14) and yardage (1,269). The touchdown mark broke Eric Walker’s 2012 record of 12, while Holmes’ yardage total surpassed Will Anderson’s 2002 mark of 1,186.
Despite all of the accolades and recognition for the junior tail back, the Bison victory over the Wolverines was a complete team effort, as the Green & White racked up 648 yards of total offense in the game. Bethany out-gained Grove City 442-95 on the ground, averaging 7.9 yards per carry in the game.
Grove City opened the game by driving the ball right down the field after receiving the opening kickoff. A 13-yard pass from Caleb Jakiel to Joseph Swanson had the Wolverines set up inside the Bethany red zone. Three plays later, the visitors were set up with a first-and-goal from the Bison three-yard line.
After allowing just one yard on each of the next two plays, the Bison defense put together a goal-line stand, turning Grove City away not once, but twice, on the one. Daniel Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) and Dion Williams (Clinton, Md./Frederick Douglass) combined for the stop of Nick Scholle on fourth down, and the Bison took over on downs.
However, Grove City would still get the first points of the game as the Bison gave the ball right back to the Wolverines on an interception which was returned inside the Bethany five-yard line. Two-plays later Jakiel found Josh Peach for a two-yard score and the visitors held a 6-0 lead after the failed extra point.
Bethany would need just three plays to respond to the Grove City score. Set up on the Grove City 45-yard line, senior Lincon Reyes (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) found senior wideout Eric Blinn (Beaver, Pa./Western Beaver), twice, to get the Bison down inside the Wolverine 10. The big gainer was a 44-yard pitch-and-catch that got Bethany to the five. On the next play, Reyes found Terry Linyard (Jersey City, N.J./Lincoln) on a five-yard slant to give Bethany a 7-6 lead.
After holding Grove City to another turnover on downs, the Bison would once again find the end zone, this time on a 12-yard strike from Reyes to Blinn, giving Bethany a 14-6 advantage.
The team’s would combine for five scores in the second frame. Grove City pulled within two-points on Peach’s second TD catch of the game. The two-point conversion failed, however, and the Bison continued to hold a two-point advantage, 14-12.
Reyes would respond by throwing his third touchdown pass of the first half, connecting with Tyler Ambush (Monrovia, Md./Gaithersburg) on a 31-yard pass over the middle. Grove City would then respond, getting their own quick strike on a 59-yard pass from Jakiel to Brett Pinson. When the dust settled the score remained a two-point advantage for the Bison, 21-19.
In the next quarter and a half, however, the Bison would take control of the game. Committing to the run game, the Green & White outscored the Wolverines 37-7 in the second and third quarters.
Holmes was responsible for 27 of the team’s 37 points in that stretch, eating up large chunks of yardage on his way to the end zone. He scored four times in the middle two stanzas, which included runs of 15, 55, 51 and 49 yards, respectively.
His final two touchdowns in the third quarter, gave him each of the four records that he now boasts. Following the 49-yard touchdown, Holmes did not touch the ball again, sitting out the remainder of the game due to the lopsided outcome.
A pair of unlikely Bison seniors contributed to the team’s final score. Playing his last game at Bison Stadium, senior linebacker Dylan Stewart (Claridge, Pa./Penn-Trafford) recorded his first-career interception, returning the ball 78 yards to the Grove City two-yard line.
Following the interception, the Green & White drew up a play to get senior defensive tackle Eric Campbell (Hurricane, W. Va./Hurricane) involved in the offense. Line up in the wildcat formation, Campbell took the direct snap and scored his first-career offensive touchdown from two-yards out to give Bethany a 55-19 lead.
Sophomore kicker Chris Ray (Henrico, Va./Mills E. Godwin) would tally the team’s final points, posting a 39-yard field goal in the late stages of the third quarter to round out the scoring at 58-26.
Over the course of the game, the Bison dominated the point of attack as the offensive line helped the Green & White total 447 total rushing yards. Along with Holme’s 341, freshman Joseph Fiasco (Harrison City, Pa./Penn-Trafford) finished with 45 yards on 10 carries, while freshman Antonio Hannah (Darlington, S.C./Darlington) added 44 yards on nine totes.
Reyes played an efficient game, finishing the day 14-of-21 for 206 yards and three touchdowns. He threw a score to three different receivers, including Blinn, Linyard and Ambush.
Blinn posted 11 catches for 137 yards and a score, become the first active player in Division III to reach 4,000 career receiving yards. He also became the single-season record holder for receiving touchdowns, catching his 11th TD of the season (record surpasses Ed Holmes’ 2012 record of 10).
Defensively, Aaron Frye (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) led the Bison with 11 total tackles while Stewart posted six tackles and an interception. Devon McClain (Millersville, Md./Old Mill) also forced a turnover, recovering a fumble while posting four tackles.
Prior to the contest, a total of 15 Bison were honored for appearing in their final game at Bison Stadium.
The Bison, who have won back-to-back games for the first time this season, will go into their bye week at 4-5 overall. They will finish out the regular season at Saint Vincent College on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m.