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WALKER SETS RECORD AS BISON WIN SHOOTOUT 41-33
Sept. 12 - SOUTH POINT, Ohio – Sophomore RB Eric Walker (New Brighton, Pa.) rushed for 172 yards and one touchdown and set a new school single-game record with three touchdown receptions to lead the Bethany football team to a 41-33 win over Kentucky Christian in a game played at South Point High School in Ohio.
The first quarter featured 34 combined points, as both teams moved up and down the field. Walker’s big day got started right away, as his 11-yard touchdown catch from sophomore QB Chad Smith (Washington, Pa.) capped a 64-yard opening drive to give the Bison (1-1) a 7-0 lead. The Knights (0-3) needed just four plays to even the score at 7-7, as RB Jake Hughes scored on a nine-yard carry.
Walker highlighted the ensuing BC possession, which saw the Green and White go back on top. After he ripped off a 26-yard run and KCU was whistled for a 15-yard penalty, Walker raced 19 yards to paydirt and a 14-7 advantage. It would be short-lived again however, as the Knights covered 66 yards in three plays, with QB Beau Dailey finishing the drive with a 39-yard scoring run. The two-point conversion attempt failed though and BC stayed ahead by a point.
Bethany’s next possession saw Walker make it three touchdowns in a quarter. A pair of Knight penalties aided the Bison in their six-play, 60-yard drive, which ended on a nine-yard scoring pass from Smith to Walker. Then the defenses finally made an impact, as BC forced a three-and-out but Bethany would turn it back over on downs after their drive stalled out at the KCU 17.
Dailey, who had an impressive day of his own for the Knights, had a hand in both home team touchdowns in the second quarter. Midway through the period, he tossed a four-yard scoring pass to Drew Abrams to end a massive 14-play, 83-yard drive that made it 21-20 Bethany. On their next possession, Dailey broke off his second long scoring run of the day, scampering 28 yards for the TD. The extra point was blocked by the Bison and the Knights’ first lead of the day stood at 26-21.
Bethany answered back with another drive of 60+ yards to grab the halftime lead. Smith tossed this third scoring strike of the game when he hit senior TE Jorge Laboy (New York, N.Y./Central Park East) from two yards out and the extra point gave BC a 28-26 margin at the break.
There was only one score in the third quarter and it was turned in by the hosts. Dailey recorded his third rushing touchdown by scoring from five yards out to complete a seven-play, 60-yard drive for a 33-28 KCU lead.
When these teams played a year ago in Bethany, the Knights led by five entering the final period, only to see Bethany score 19 straight points for a 34-19 triumph. This year was more of the same, as the Bison scored 13 points to grab the lead. A five-play, 65-yard drive ended when freshman RB Solomon Griffin (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel) bulled in from a yard out, but the extra point was missed and BC was ahead by just one at 34-33.
On their next drive, the Bison put an important insurance score on the board. Going 63 yards in four plays, Walker broke the Bison single-game record with his third scoring reception of the day, this one a five-yard grab from Smith to extend the Bethany lead to 41-33 with 5:27 remaining.
Even with the eight-point cushion, BC would have to hang on until the very end. Kentucky Christian managed to get into position to loft a Hail Mary into the end zone on the game’s final play, but Bison senior WR Matt Cruse (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier), inserted into the game as a safety, picked off the pass to secure the win and snap Bethany’s nine-game road losing streak that dated back to the 2007 season opener when the Green and White won at Hiram 24-7.
Walker was the main star for Bethany in this one, as he carried 23 times for a career-high 172 yards and one score, in addition to catching four passes for 37 yards and the school-record three touchdowns. He broke the previous mark of two TDs set numerous times in Bison history, most recently by Taylor McNeil in the 2008 season finale against Saint Vincent.
Smith also enjoyed a banner day in the victory, as he completed 17-of-31 through the air for 196 yards and a career-high tying four touchdowns. Walker, Laboy and sophomore WR Jeff Joyce (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) each grabbed a team-high four passes.
Defensively, senior DB Matt Dahle (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto-Rox) led Bethany in stops for the second consecutive week with nine, including six solos.
Leading Kentucky Christian’s efforts was Dailey, who rushed for 134 yards and three scores and threw for 181 yards and one TD.
The Bison return home next weekend for their PAC opener and a little more history. They will host Grove City at Bison Stadium in a 7 p.m. kickoff, marking the first home night game ever in Bethany history. Last year in a game under the lights at Grove City, the Wolverines scored with just under two minutes to play and held off BC for a 41-35 triumph.