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Week 6 Game Notes: Bison Football Strives For Five at Homecoming

Oct. 8 - BETHANY, W. Va. - The Bethany College football team (4-1, 3-0 PAC) will look to stay atop the PAC standings and win their fifth-straight game, when they take on Carnegie Mellon University (2-2, 2-2 PAC) on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. The weekend will also be Bethany's Homecoming for the 2014 season. Full game notes can be seen below.

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The Bison: Bethany enters the game riding a four-game winning streak and currently sits on top of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference standings as they enter their homecoming contest with Carnegie Mellon. The Green & White dispatched of Case Western Reserve in week five, defeating the Spartans by a 25-14 score. In the win, the Bison dominated Case on the ground, running for 206 total yards while holding the Spartans to a mere 41 yards rushing.

Case Western notched the first score of the game before the Bison responded with 19-unanswered points. Senior Brandon Hill notched the first two touchdowns on the ground, and receiver Eric Blinn scored the third touchdown for the Green & White to put Bethany ahead, 19-7.

After the Spartans cut the lead to 19-14, the Bison punched in the dagger with a nine-yard touchdown by sophomore Jalen Holmes to round out the scoring at 25-14.

For Bethany, Blinn and Hill led the way. Blinn finished the contest with 15 catches for 145 yards and a score. His 15 snares were just one shy of the Bison single-game record. Hill completed the day totaling 87 yards and two scores on just 18 carries.

Defensively, Bethany held the Spartans to just 249 total yards. The Bison finished the game with 12.0 tackles for loss and a season-high 5.0 sacks in the contest. The victory gave Bethany their fourth-straight win for the first time since 2001.

The Tartans: Carnegie Mellon improved to 2-2 in conference play when they defeated Westminster College, 27-24. The Tartans pulled the game to 24-24 with just 39 seconds remaining, and thanks to an interception by Ryan Aitken, had a chance to win the ball game in regulation. Due to a personal foul penalty on Westminster, the Tartans had a chance for a 50-yard field goal on an untimed down, which kicker Tyler Kohman put through the uprights to give the Tartans their second victory of the season. In the win, Carnegie Mellon totaled just 203 yard of offense, but forced three turnovers to earn the victory.

The Series: This year’s meeting between the Bison and Tartans will mark the 41st all-time showdown between the two schools. This will be the first meeting between the two programs since 2007. Carnegie Mellon currently holds a 33-7-0 all-time advantage over the Bison, and have won the last six meetings.

The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Carnegie Mellon’s Rich Lackner meet for first time in Garvey’s two-year tenure as the head coach of the Bison.

Garvey, who is in his second season as the head coach of the Bison, is 8-7 through his first 15 games at the helm. His record marks the third-best start in school history by a head coach. It has been 91 years since any coach has been over .500 through 15 games. That distinction goes to R.A. Easterday, who went 9-6 between the years of 1922 and 1923.

Lackner is in his 29th season as the head coach of Carneige Mellon, and has a career record of 184-97-2. Lackenr’s 184-career wins currently ranks him fifth among active head coaches in Division III. He is just two behind Steve Johnson of Bethel, who has 188.

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. In their previous win against Case Western, the Bison totaled 12.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 total sacks. The 12 TFL marked the third time this year that the Bison have registered at least ten in a game. The five sacks also tied a season best for the Green & White. With their totals from a week ago, the Bison have now accumulated 50 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. The averages of 10 TFL and 4.0 sacks per game currently rank sixth and 11th in the country, respectively. 

So far this season, the defensive pressure that the Bison have been able to achieve has come from a complete team effort. Junior Nadim Raddar leads the charge, however, as he has totaled 48 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks through five games, all of which lead the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Raddar also ranks first in all of Division III in both total sacks and total tackles for loss. Over their four-game winning streak, the Bison are holding their opponents to just 19.8 points per game. The front seven are also doing a solid job against the run game, holding opponents to just 130.5 yards and 3.3 yards per carry during that same stretch. The team has also forced seven turnovers in the last four games, which has turned into 40 points for the Bison offense (averaging 10 points per game off turnovers.)

Battle in the Trenches: The Bison are in unfamiliar territory in 2014, as they currently rank fourth in conference in rushing yards per game. The Bison are currently averaging 174.2 rushing yards per contest after ranking among the bottom in that category over the past three years. Senior Brandon Hill’s emergence as the feature back has helped the Bison produce solid numbers in the run game. For the second consecutive week, Hill found the end zone twice with his feet. He finished the contest with 87 yards on just 18 carries (averaging 4.8 per game).

The Bison offensive and defensive lines have been playing at a high clip this season for the Green & White. While the offense is totaling 174.2 yards per game, the defense is allowing just 133.4 yards per game on the ground. Last week, the defense held Case Western to just 41 yards rushing, while finishing the contest with 206 total yards. Look for the Bison to once again exploit the ground game on both sides as Carnegie Mellon comes into the game ranked tenth in rushing offense (78.8/game) and ninth in rushing defense (160.8/game) so far in 2014.

Blinnsanity: Junior receiver Eric Blinn totaled 15 catches for 144 yards and a score last week against Case Western. It marked the third-straight 100-yard game for Blinn. With his final catch of the night, a 26-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, Blinn officially became Bethany’s all-time career leader in receiving yards by one yard, breaking Matt Cruse’s 2006-2009 record of 2,625. He now stands alone at the top with 2,626 receiving yards and 196 receptions. Look for Blinn to have another big game for the Green & White as the Tartans come into the game with the league’s last-ranked passing defense, allowing 315.5 yards per game through the air.

Keep the Streak Alive: Bethany will look to capture their fifth-straight win for the first time under Coach Garvey when they take on the Tartans on Saturday. Bethany has not had a five-game winning streak since the 2001 campaign, when the team started the year 5-0.

Hall of Fame Inductees: Before the 2014 homecoming game, the Bison will honor five new inductees into the Bethany Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2014 Hall of Fame Class includes softball standout Jodi Jackfert (’98); men’s tennis All-PAC winner Michael Mezerski (’99); women’s basketball star Jill (Kamerer) Smith (’01); women’s swimming & division standout Kathleen (McGowan) Wack (’98); and men’s basketball sharpshooter Nevada Smith (’02).

Up Next: Next week, the Bison will play in their fourth home game of the season as they host the Presidents of Washington & Jefferson University. The Presidents are currently ranked No. 21 in the country by Bethany and Washington & Jefferson currently share the top spot in the PAC standings.