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MISSED OPPORTUNITIES HAUNT BISON IN 28-7 LOSS

Sept. 5 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany football team entered the fourth quarter tied with Otterbein at 7-7, but the 24th-ranked Cardinals scored three times in the final period to pull away for a 28-7 season opening victory over BC Saturday afternoon at Bison Stadium.

The season couldn’t have had a much better start for Bethany, as they took the opening kickoff and drove 91 yards in 14 plays for the initial score of the year. They converted a pair of third downs and one fourth-and-two on a six-yard run by junior RB Marcus Santini (Seminole, Fla.) on the drive, which was capped by a six-yard scoring run from freshman RB Solomon Griffin (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel) for a 7-0 BC lead.

The Cardinals were able to tie the score with a 10-play, 79-yard march early in the second quarter and drew even on a one-yard scoring run by Colton Coy. Bethany answered right back by driving down on the ensuing possession to the Otterbein eight before stalling out. Freshman Adam Gibboney (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) had a chance to give BC the lead but his 25-yard field goal try was blocked to keep the game squared at 7-7, which is where it stood at halftime.

Otterbein had the ball first to open the half, but made the first major mistake of the day when QB Jack Refferty was intercepted by Bison freshman LB Kyle Arrington (Jackson Twp., Ohio/Jackson), giving the hosts the ball at midfield. Bethany moved down to the Cardinal 10, but an incomplete pass on fourth-and-six at the OC 10 turned the ball over.

Late in the third quarter, the Cardinals turned the game over to their running game behind an offensive line that averages 284 pounds per man. Another 10-play march, this one covering 70 yards with 53 coming on the ground, resulted in a 13-yard scoring run by Coy less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. After BC was forced to punt on its next possession, Otterbein rushed on all 13 plays to cover 84 yards and extend their margin to 21-7 on a five-yard touchdown run by Eric Yates.

With less than five minutes to play, the Bison needed to go to the air, but their next drive ended two plays in when Justin Hochstetler picked off a Chad Smith (Washington, Pa.) pass to give Otterbein possession on the BC 28. Four plays later, Yates burst into the end zone from eight yards out for the final score of the game. Bethany tried to put more points on the board with their final possession, reaching the Cardinal 15 before failing to convert on fourth down. For the day, Bethany registered points on only one of four trips to the red zone.

The Bison offense finished with 268 total yards, with 167 coming on the ground. Sophomore RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) totaled 77 yards on 12 carries, while Santini churned out 57 on 11 totes. Smith completed 17 passes, but for only 101 yards. His top targets were senior WR Matt Cruse (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier), senior TE Jorge Laboy (New York, N.Y./Central Park East) and freshman WR Jonathan Foster (Cumberland, Md./Fort Hill) with four receptions apiece.

The defensive efforts were led by senior DB Matt Dahle (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto-Rox), who made 10 tackles, including one for loss, in his first game on defense after spending his first three seasons­ at wide receiver.
 
Otterbein’s running game was a key to the game, as they pounded out 306 yards on 50 carries for a 6.1 average. Coy amassed 153 yards and Yates turned in 122, with both scoring a pair of touchdowns.

Bethany will go out on the road for the first time this season next Saturday when they head to Kentucky Christian University, an NAIA program in Grayson, Ky. The Bison rallied with 19 fourth quarter points for a 34-19 victory over the Knights last year at BC.