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MISTAKES PROVE COSTLY TO BISON IN 31-14 LOSS TO W&J

Sept. 17 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Despite matching Washington & Jefferson in total yards (407) and first downs (22), the Bethany College football team had four turnovers and committed 10 penalties that proved to be its undoing in a 31-14 loss to the Presidents Saturday night at Bison Stadium.

The Bison (1-1, 0-1) thwarted W&J’s opening drive when sophomore safety Jamaan Webb (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) picked off a President pass at the BC eight. That was followed by a 10-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a two-yard scoring run by senior RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) for a 7-0 Bethany lead.

W&J put together its first scoring drive late in the first quarter. A 56-yard pass from Matt Bliss to Alex Baroffio was the key play that set up a one-yard scoring run from DeAndre Simmons late in the first period. On the ensuing drive, the Bison marched 62 yards in 14 plays and had a second and goal at the one, but a fumble on the snap was recovered by the Presidents to kill the Bison chance.

Another turnover proved costly late in the half, as W&J’s Mitch Rose picked off Bethany sophomore QB Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) to give the visitors possession at the BC 15. Two plays later, Bliss kept it himself for a six-yard scoring run and a 14-7 W&J advantage.

Bethany had another chance to put points on the board before the half. The Green and White drove to the Presidents’ three and had first and goal, but they came up empty-handed following a run, a pass for no gain and two incompletions, sending the game to halftime with W&J ahead 14-7.

The scoring came fast and furious to open the third quarter. Bethany was forced to punt on its initial possession and a good punt return gave the visitors the ball on the BC 45. Two plays later, Bliss connected with Hunter Creel for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-7. Bethany would open its bag of tricks on the next drive, as a flea flicker resulted in a 49-yard scoring pass from Grimard to junior WR Johnathan Foster to bring the Bison back within a score at 21-14.

W&J took control of the game with their next two drives. After Bethany’s score, the Presidents drove 53 yards in 12 plays before settling for a 27-yard field goal by Eric Eberle. The Bison then drove to the W&J 37 but was stopped on a fourth and two. The Presidents would go 64 yards in 12 plays, the final being a fine diving catch in the left corner of the end zone by Alex Baroffio on a 10-yard TD pass from Bliss and the W&J lead was 31-14.

The Bison drove into President territory again in the fourth quarter, but the turnover bug bit again when a big hit on a sack resulted in a fumble that W&J recovered at their own 32 to squelch another threat. The visitors ran the clock out and went home with the win in the opening PAC game of the season for both teams.

Despite the mirrored offensive numbers, the telling stats were Bethany’s miscues. The Bison committed 10 penalties for 100 yards, fumbled seven times and lost three and also threw one interception.

The Bison finished the night with 203 rushing yards, led by Walker’s 112, his 12th career game with over 100 yards rushing. Grimard threw for 204 yards on 17-of-34 passing and also gained 48 on the ground. The top receiver was senior Alex Evans (Washington, Pa.), who hauled in seven balls for 83 yards.

For the Bethany defense, junior linebacker Kyle Arrington (Jackson Twp., Ohio/Jackson) made 15 tackles in the loss, while Webb had a dozen hits to go along with his interception. Sophomore safety Jordan Joyce (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) chipped in with 11 hits and senior DE Kasib Taalib-Din made 10 tackles, including one sack.

Bethany will head back out on the road next week to take on Geneva, who fell to 0-3 with a 47-6 loss at three-time defending PAC champion Thomas More Saturday. Kickoff in Beaver Falls, Pa., is scheduled for 7 p.m.