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MISSED OPPORTUNITIES HAUNT BISON IN 21-7 LOSS AT GROVE CITY

Nov. 6 - GROVE CITY, Pa. – The Bethany College football team produced points on just one of four trips to the red zone and turned the ball over four times in a 21-7 loss at Grove City Saturday in their final road game of the 2010 season.

The game had a bright start for the Bison (4-5, 3-3). The Wolverines (4-5, 2-4) reached the BC 11 on their opening drive, but on fourth down, a fumble by Blaine Miller was recovered by Bethany junior DE Kasib Taalib-Din (New York, N.Y./Central Park East) to end the threat.

The Bison then moved 88 yards in nine plays to put the opening points of the game on the board. The drive, which was highlighted by a 21-yard run from junior WR Alex Evans (Washington, Pa.) and a 19-yard pass play from freshman QB Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) to freshman WR Chris Collins (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) to convert a third down, was capped by a 10-yard scoring run by Grimard for a 7-0 Green and White lead.

The rushing touchdown was the 11th of the year for Grimard to tie the Bethany single-season record set last year by current junior RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.).

Bethany had a chance to add to the lead in the second quarter, as they drove from their own 49 inside the GCC five. However, they were stopped on fourth and goal to turn the ball back over to Grove City. The Wolverines answered by driving 95 yards for the tying score just before the half, as freshman QB Brian Pell completed all five of his passes on the possession for 92 yards. His final strike covered 19 yards to Will McCoy, who caught the pass on a deflection for the score that made it 7-7 going into the intermission.

Grove City nearly grabbed the lead on their first drive of the second half, but a sack by Taalib-Din halted the GCC momentum and forced them to try a 40-yard field goal, which sailed wide left. After BC was forced to punt on their ensuing possession, the Wolverines did capitalize on an opportunity to grab the lead. They needed eight plays to march 70 yards and Pell fired a 31-yard touchdown pass to Luke O’Hara for a 14-7 lead.

The fourth quarter was where the lost opportunities cost the Bison. Their first drive of the period started at their own 47 and within four plays, they had a first down at the GCC 17. Grimard completed a pass to sophomore TE Fletcher Coffman (Clarksburg, W.Va./Robert C. Byrd) down to the Wolverine one, but he was stripped of the ball and the fumble was recovered in the end zone by the home team for a touchback to thwart the BC chance.

Bethany’s defense forced a Grove City punt and a face mask penalty gave the Green and White possession at midfield with 7:34 to play. Three plays later from the Wolverine 40, Grimard was picked off by Jason Ferguson, who rumbled back to the Bethany 31. That set up GCC for an insurance score, as seven plays after the interception, Blaine Miller plowed in from the one to increase the Grove City lead to 21-7.

The Bison’s last gasp would meet a familiar fate as their other possessions in the quarter. In five plays, they moved from their own 42 down to the Wolverine 11. However, two incomplete passes sandwiched around a holding penalty slowed the drive. Grimard was then sacked on third down and on fourth and long, his final desperation pass was intercepted by Ferguson for the fourth turnover of the game and the Bison missed a chance to clinch their first .500 season since 2001.

Defensively, Bethany limited the Wolverines to 297 total yards, including just 104 on the ground on 44 attempts for a 2.4 yards per carry average. Sophomore LB Kyle Arrington (Jackson Twp., Ohio/Jackson) and freshman CB Jamaan Webb (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) both had 11 tackles, while Arrington posted one of the Bison’s four sacks. Taalib-Din had a pair of QB sacks to bring his season total to 7.5 and senior DT John Gyure (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) had the other sack.

On the offensive side, BC out-gained the home team by a slight 300-297 margin and matched them with 18 first downs. Grimard completed 15 passes for 137 yards and rushed for 53 yards, while Walker gained a team-high 69 yards on the ground. Evans finished as the top receiver with four catches for 23 yards.

The Bison will try to pick up that fifth win and finish with a .500 record when they host Saint Vincent next Saturday at Bison Stadium in the regular season finale. Bethany has won the first three meetings with SVC by an average margin of 36.7 points, but the Bearcats (3-6, 3-3) defeated Westminster 21-14 Saturday for their second win in the last three games. Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 1 p.m.