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Week 4 Game Notes: Bison Football Aims For Third-Straight Victory

Sept. 24 - BETHANY, W. Va. - The Bethany College football team (2-1, 1-0 PAC) will look to capture its third-straight win of the season when the team takes on Waynesburg University on Saturday evening at Bison Stadium. The Contest is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. kick. Full game notes can be seen below.

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The Bison: Bethany comes into its fourth game of the season as winners of back-to-back games, having defeated Westminster College, 21-14 in overtime last week. The Bison opened their Presidents’ Athletic Conference schedule 1-0, by erasing a 14-7, third-quarter deficit to topple the titans. A one-yard touchdown run by Brian Vales tied the game for Bethany, and the Bison defense constantly stood tall in the fourth quarter to force the overtime frame. On the Bison’s first possession of the overtime frame, sophomore Jalen Holmes notched his second rushing touchdown of the season, finding pay dirt from 14 yards out to give Bethany their first lead of the game, 21-14. The Green & White “D” then stood tall once again, finishing off the Titans by the same score. In the win, junior receiver Eric Blinn led the offense, catching 11 passes for 137 yards and a score. Junior Donavan Hayden paced the Bethany defense, collecting 14 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception on the day.

The Yellow Jackets: Waynesburg comes into the contest as winners of three-straight contests. In the Yellow Jackets previous contest, Waynesburg defeated Geneva College, 44-38, in overtime to open their conference schedule, 1-0. Carter Hill paced Waynesburg to the victory, completing 23-of-45 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns. 

The Series: This week’s contest will mark the 50th meeting between the Bison and Yellow Jackets with Waynesburg holding a 26-17-6 advantage over the Bison. Over the last six seasons, the two teams have played it even, as each team is 3-3 since 2008.

The Last Time They Met: In 2013, the Bison came into the contest with the Yellow Jackets looking to grab their first three-game winning streak since the 2010 season. The game didn’t start out in the Bison’s favor, as the Green & White turned the ball over on four of their six drives in the first half (one on downs, two interceptions and one fumble). However the Bethany defense played well in the opening stanza, keeping the Yellow Jackets to just 13 points, and the Bison trailed 13-6 at the half.

The Bison were able to find the end zone on two different occasions in the second half and had the game tied at 20-20 late into the fourth quarter. However, Waynesburg put together a long drive and threatened to take a late-game advantage with a go-ahead field goal. Dion Williams blocked the kick for the Bison, however, and Bethany recovered the ball at the two-yard line. Senior Matt Grimard then led the Bison on an eight-place 98-yard drive for the go ahead score. The dagger was delivered by Eric Blinn, as he notched a 68-yard touchdown reception with 20 seconds to play to give Bethany the victory. In the game, Blinn finished the contest with 11 catches for 154 yards and two scores. Grimard posted 369 yards passing and four touchdowns in the game. 

The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Waynesburg’s Rick Shepas meet head-to-head for the second time, this season.

Garvey, who spent 7 years as an offensive coordinator, helped build one of the most prolific offenses that Bethany has ever seen. He led the Bison to a 4-6 mark in 2013, including wins over Grove City (34-31), Waynesburg (27-20) and PAC Champion Washington & Jefferson (24-19). So far in 2014, Garvey has led the Bison to a 2-1 mark to start the season. After dropping a game to No. 3 Mount Union in the opener, Bethany has won back-to-back games, defeating Thiel (45-24) and Westminster (21-14). It marks just the sixth time in the past 12 seasons that the Bison have posted back-to-back win, but it is the second time in just two years under Coach Garvey.

Shepas is in his tenth season with the Yellow Jackets, and has Waynesburg at 3-0 after taking an overtime victory over Geneva College. 2014 marks the fourth time in Shepas’ ten-year tenure with Waynesburg that the Yellow Jackets have started the season with at least three wins in a row. Only once has Waynesburg won more than three-straight games to open the season under Shepas (won first nine games in 2012).

Disruptive Force: The Bethany College defense has hung their hat on their ability to be a nightmare for opposing offenses, constantly finding their way into the backfield to stop both the run and the pass at the point of attack. So far on the year the Green & White have 31 tackles for loss and 13 sacks on the season. Not only do those numbers rank first in the conference, but they rank tied for 11th and tied for 14th in all of Division III, respectively. Junior defensive end Nadim Raddar leads the solid defense in both of those categories as he has totaled 9.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the year. Both of those numbers also rank among the nation’s elite. His 6.5 total sacks currently ranks first in the entire country, while his 3.0 tackles for loss per contest is currently tied for ninth in Division III. Not only is it Raddar making a name for himself on the defensive front seven, but a number of players.

In three games this season, three different players have led the team in tackles and tackles for loss. Sophomore Khallid Pierce led the team with 4.5 tackles for loss against Mount Union in week one. Raddar posted 3.5 tackles for loss and sacks against Thiel and junior Donavan Hayden totaled 3.5 tackles for loss in the victory over Westminster last week. So far through three games, four different Bison rank in the top ten in the conference in tackles for loss. Raddar comes in first (9.0) while Pierce (5.5), Hayden (5.0) and junior Larry Kpadehyea (4.5) rank fifth, seventh and tenth, respectively. Hayden and Kpadehyea also rank one and two in the conference in forced fumbles. Hayden has three on the season, while Kpadehyea has forced two.

Award Winner: Donavan Hayden had a monster week for the Bison last week in the win over Westminster. He finished the game with 14 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and interception and a forced fumble. Because of his numbers, Hayden was named both the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week.

Getting A Leg Up: Senior punter Stephen Amic, who was named a Pre-Season All-American by USA College Football, has been a figure of consistency on special teams this season. Against Westminster last week, the senior captain helped the Bison control field position, averaging 42.3 yards per punt on the day. So far over the course of the season, Amic has punted the ball 26 times for 1,052 yards. His 40.4 yards per punt currently ranks first in the PAC. He also stands 25th of 171 listed punters in Division III in yards per punt average.

Closing in on a Record: Eric Blinn made 11 catches in the Bison victory last week and now stands at 169 career receptions. The Bethany record of 177 was set by Matt Cruse, who played from 2006-2009. Blinn needs just nine catches on Saturday against the Yellow Jackets to become the all-time leader in Bethany history. In doing so, he would have accomplished the feat in just 24 games.

Keep the Streak Alive: The Bison will look to put together their second three-game winning streak in the last two seasons. Before the 2013 season, the last time the Bison put together a three-game streak was in 2010 when the team defeated Waynesburg (24-17), Westminster (47-39) and Thiel (41-9).

Up Next: Next week the Bison will be back on the road for their third night game of the season as they travel to Cleveland, Ohio for a bout with new conference member, Case Western Reserve University, the game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. kick.