Nov. 15 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany senior WR Taylor McNeil (Old Saybrook, Conn.) celebrated Senior Day in style, catching 10 passes for a school-record 279 yards and two touchdowns, as the Bison closed out the season with a 44-14 victory over invading Saint Vincent Saturday in “The Green Game.”
The Bearcats nearly took the lead to open the game, as they drove to the BC 17 before stalling and then had a 34-yard field goal sail wide left. Two possessions later, Bethany (3-7) used two of their 10 plays that covered 20 or more yards to put the initial score on the board. McNeil made his first grab of the day, a 34-yard strike from freshman QB Chad Smith (Washington, Pa.), which was followed on the next play by freshman RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) breaking off a 38-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 BC advantage.
The scoring run was the 10th of the year for Walker, tying the school’s single-season mark for rushing touchdowns set by Will Anderson in 2002.
Walker would also find pay dirt on the Bison’s next drive to double their lead to 14-0. He hauled in a 10-yard scoring pass from Smith, who had a huge day as well, to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive to make it a two-score game heading into the second quarter.
McNeil’s day really took off in the second quarter, as he caught a pair of long touchdown passes to send Bethany into the halftime locker room with a 28-7 lead. The first score came less than a minute into the second period when a flea-flicker resulted in a 60-yard scoring pass from Smith to McNeil for a 21-0 BC lead. The Bearcats would score their first TD of the afternoon midway through the quarter when they drove 33 yards in four plays to punch it in on a five-yard scoring run by Jairus Marlow to cut the BC lead to 21-7.
Bethany’s lead quickly ballooned back up to three touchdowns when three plays into their next possession, Smith unloaded a pass deep for McNeil, who raced under it and took it the rest of the way for an 88-yard scoring reception. McNeil’s second score of the day, which gave him 205 receiving yards at halftime, also gave BC a comfortable margin at the break.
Saint Vincent dodged one BC chance to start the third quarter when they recovered a fumble at their own 37 to stop a Bison drive. But Bethany’s defense would step up to deliver the next score, as senior CB Brandon Zeman (Bridgeville, Pa./Chartiers Valley) jumped a sideline pattern, picked off a pass and returned it 39 yards for a score. The extra point was blocked, but Bethany’s lead stood at 34-7.
For Zeman, it was his second INT return for a touchdown this season and fourth in his career.
A 36-yard punt return by sophomore WR Randy Rankin (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) gave Bethany great field position on their next drive. After 12- and 32-yard passes from Smith to Walker, sophomore Marcus Santini (Seminole, Fla.) finished the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge to increase the Bison’s lead to 41-7.
Two more big plays set up the final Bethany score of the day one possession later. McNeil hauled in a 22-yard completion and Walker streaked through the Bearcat defense for a 50-yard gain deep into SVC territory. The march was halted at the Saint Vincent six, but freshman kicker Carlos Perdomo (Tampa, Fla./Leto) knocked a 23-yard field goal through for a 44-7 Bethany lead.
The Bearcats scored the closing touchdown of the day late in the third quarter, as a 59-yard run from Marlow set up a one-yard QB sneak from Kevin Corona to make the final count 44-14.
Bethany’s offense finished with 511 yards on 59 plays, an 8.7 yards-per-play average. McNeil had the major milestone, as his 279 receiving yards surpassed the previous school mark of 225 by Dan Reilly in 1989. McNeil also grabbed his 100th career reception in the game, and finishes with 106 catches (seventh in school history) for 1,489 yards (seventh), as well as 1,553 kickoff return yards (second) and 3,213 all-purpose yards (fourth).
Smith’s day was also one for the record books. He completed 18-of-28 through the air for 392 yards, second-highest total in one game by a Bison QB ever behind only Jeff Beer’s 430 passing yards against Thiel in 1980, and three TDs. The first-year signal-caller totaled 2,302 passing yards this season for the second-highest total posted by a BC quarterback in one year (Beer-2,367 in 1980) and 17 touchdowns, which ties Beer’s 1979 total as the third-most in a season.
Walker was the other offensive star for Bethany on Saturday, as he rushed for 117 yards and the record-tying touchdown while also catching four passes for 69 yards and another score. His first season in Green and White came to an end with 714 rushing yards, 10th-highest by a Bison back in a season, and the 11 overall TDs is tied with Ernie Whitted (1969) and Brandon Isbell (2000) for the third-most in single-season history.
On the other side, Bethany’s defense registered their best day of the year, setting season-lows in points and total yards allowed (324) while forcing five turnovers and making two sacks. Sophomore LB Tom Kisner (Killingsworth, Conn./Xavier) had nine tackles to lead the way, while Zeman, junior CB Michael Salters (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto-Rox) and junior CB Ariel Ramirez (West Hempstead, N.Y.) all had interceptions. Both sacks were turned in by sophomore DL Brad Ragghianti (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills).
The game, which was dubbed “The Green Game” as part of the PAC’s Rivalry Week, was the last in the careers of 11 Bethany seniors, including captains McNeil and Zeman, Terry Akers (Bethesda, Ohio/Union Local), Chris Boland (Ocean View, N.J./Middle Township), Alex Bota (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands), Ron Ermlick (Charleroi, Pa.), Randy Gibson (Charleston, W.Va./Riverside), Brian Liptock (New Salem, Pa./Uniontown), Ian McNally (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks), Michael Wells (Friendly, W.Va./Tyler Consolidated) and Brad Zink (Washington Court House, Ohio/Miami Trace).