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Week 7 Game Notes: Bison Football Gearing Up For Pivotal PAC Showdown

Oct. 15 - BETHANY, W. Va. - The Bison football team (5-1, 4-0 PAC) will look to win their sixth-straight game as they host the Presidents of Washington & Jefferson in a clash of Presidents' Athletic Conference leaders. Full game notes can be seen below.

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The Bison: Bethany enters the game riding a five-game winning streak, the longest streak by the Bison since the 2001 season. The Green & White captured win number five on the year by dropping Carnegie Mellon, 19-7, on Homecoming last week.

In the win, the Bison defense manhandled the Tartans, allowing just 198 yards of total offense in the game. Bethany totaled 9.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, holding Carnegie Mellon to 48 yards rushing in the victory.

The Tartans got on the board first in the second quarter, getting a six-yard touchdown run from Andrew Hearon to go up 7-0. Bethany could not punch the ball into the end zone in the first half, but did get two field goals from freshman Chris Ray. The second, a 34-yard try, split the uprights with one second remaining in the half, and the Bison went into the locker room trailing, 7-6.

The third quarter was all Bethany, as the Bison defense held Carnegie Mellon to just six total yards. The Green & White also received two touchdown receptions from Eric Blinn. The first came on a two-yard shovel pass from defensive lineman, Nick Greer. The second, done the traditional way from quarterback Brian Vales, extended the Bison advantage to 19-7 with 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Bethany would then hold the Tartans scoreless for the rest of the game, taking home the 19-7 win.

In the contest, Bethany dominated the point of attack, finishing the game with 301 total yards rushing. Sophomore Jalen Holmes, who got his first start of his career, carried the load as he finished with 26 carries 160 yards. Blinn led the receiving corps once again as he finished the contest with 15 snares for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

The Presidents: W&J comes into the contest also winners of five-straight games. The Presidents rolled Grove City in their previous contest, upended the Wolverines by a score of 55-14. Ryan Ruffing scored four total touchdowns in the game, collecting three rushing TDs and a receiving touchdown in the first half. The Presidents outgained Grove City 594 to 201 in the victory and gained 250+ yards in both the run and passing games.

The Series: The longest running series of any opponent against the Bison is with Washington & Jefferson, as the two teams will meet for the 91st time in Bethany’s history. W&J leads the all time series by a 69-21 margin, but the Bison managed to take the last meeting between the two schools. In their previous contest, the Bison upended W&J by a score of 24-19, thanks to a last minute interception by defensive back Aaron Frye.

The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Washington & Jefferson’s Mike Siriani meet for the second time in Garvey’s tenure as Head Coach of the Bison. Garvey is 1-0 against Siriani, having led the Bison to a 24-19 win last year.

Garvey, who is in his second season as the head coach of the Bison, is 9-7 through his first 16 games at the helm, helping Bethany to its best start since the 2001 season. His record ties the best start in school history by a head coach. It has been 93 years since any coach has won nine of their first 16 games. Garvey tied H.M. Budland’s 1920-21 record of 9-7 with the victory over CMU last week.

Siriani has led the Presidents to a 5-0 start including a 4-0 mark in conference play in his 12th season at the helm. This year, he currently has led W&J to a National ranking (currently 20th in rankings). With his 5-0 start, Siriani is now 106-24 in his 12 seasons with the Presidents.

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 Carnegie Mellon, the Bison totaled 9.0 tackles for loss and a season high 7.0 sacks. With their totals from a week ago, the Bison have now accumulated 59 tackles for loss and 27 sacks. Both averages of 9.8 tackles for loss per game and 4.5 sacks per game rank in the top ten in the country.

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 52 tackles, 16.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks through six 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 five-game winning streak, the Bison are holding their opponents to just 17.2 points per game.

Battle in the Trenches: The Bison have done a nice job both offensively and defensively at the point of attack this season, and are controlling the ground game on both sides of the ball. However, the Bison are staring at one of their toughest tests on the ground when the Presidents come to play on Saturday.

When the Presidents have the ball, W&J will look to utilize junior Ryan Ruffing who ranks second in the PAC in rushing yards per game (155.4). So far this year, Ruffing has amassed 777 yards on the ground (5.2 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns. As a team, the Presidents are averaging 237.4 yards per game on the ground, and have scored 20 touchdowns in the run game. The Bison will combat W&J’s ground attack with a run defense that ranks second in the PAC in rushing yardage allowed (119.2 per game). The Bison have also totaled 59 tackles for loss on the season, which ranks among the nation’s elite. The Bison have also allowed just 89 total rushing yards combined over the last two weeks.

When the Bison take the field on offense, they will be led by a rushing attack that posted 301 total yards on the ground last week. The running game for Bethany currently ranks third in the conference in yards per game, averaging 195.3 yards on the ground this season. The Green & White have a three-pronged attack in their ground game as running backs Brandon Hill and Jalen Holmes, as well as quarterback Brian Vales, all have at least 75 carries for at least 320 yards. They will go up against a W&J squad that ranks fourth in the conference in rushing defense, allowing 134.4 yards per game.

Blinnsanity: Junior receiver Eric Blinn totaled 15 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a 19-7 win over Carnegie Mellon last week. It marked the fourth-straight game that Blinn has totaled at least 11 catches, 130 yards and a score. He currently leads the country in receptions per game (11.0) and ranks first in the conference in receptions (66) and receiving yards (673). He also is the career active leader in all of Division III in receptions per game (8.1) and receiving yards per game (106.3).

Keep the Streak Alive: Bethany will look to capture its sixth-straight victory for the first time since the team’s PAC Championship run in 1980. The last time the Bison had a five-game streak, the team dropped a 35-7 decision to W&J in 2001.

Battle for PAC Supremacy: When the Bison and Presidents’ get together for the 91st time, the conference lead will be on the line with both teams sitting undefeated in PAC play. The winner of the game will essentially have a two-game lead for the conference crown. A win by the Bison would give them a cushion with three weeks to play, as they would hold tiebreakers over W&J (head-to-head), Thomas More (record vs. like opponents), and Waynesburg (head-to-head).