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Week Eight Game Notes: Bison Football Looks To Rebound In Conference Clash With Geneva

Oct. 22 - BETHANY, W. Va. - The Bethany College football team (5-2, 4-1 PAC) will look to improve their record in night games to 4-0 this season as they travel to Beaver Falls, Pa. for a conference clash with the Golden Tornadoes of Geneva College. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start. Full game notes can be seen below.

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The Bison: Bethany enters the contest with the team’s best start since the 2001 season, despite suffering their first defeat in six weeks to the Presidents of Washington & Jefferson College last Saturday. The Bison have dropped just two contests this season, both to opponents ranked in the top 25 by D3football.com.

Bethany dropped a 34-3 decision to W&J last week after scoring first in the contest. The Bison set themselves up with good field position after Aaron Frye picked up his second career interception against W&J. The Green & White then received a field goal from freshman Chris Ray, his fourth of the season, to take an early 3-0 lead.

Following the field goal, however, the Bison allowed 34-unaswered points to fall for the first time in conference play.

In the loss, the Bison defense allowed just 27 points to a W&J offense that ranked second in the country in points per game, coming in averaging over 50 per contest. They also held the Presidents to under 500 yards of total offense for the first time this season.

Individually, the Bison “D” was led by junior Donavan Hayden and sophomore Matt Conover. Hayden finished the game with 17 total tackles and a career-high 4.0 tackles for loss. Conover also notched 4.0 tackles for loss in the game and finished with 10.0 tackles, both of which were a career best.

Junior Larry Kpadehyea also had a nice game as he finished in double-digit tackles with 10.0. Senior Nick Greer finished the game with 9.0 tackles and 1.5 TFL, while Frye totaled eight tackles and an interception.

The Golden Tornadoes: Geneva comes into the contest having dropped their previous contest to Case Western Reserve, 33-19. In the loss, the Golden Tornadoes racked up 311 total yards, but just 38 on the ground. Quarterback Aaron Channing finished the game 23-of-42 for 273 yards and a touchdown. His top target was receiver Josh Guiser, who finished the game with six receptions for 112 yards. Defensively, the Golden Tornadoes allowed 317 total yards of offense, including 137 yards on the ground. Geneva comes into the contest having dropped four-straight contests.

The Series: This year’s meeting between Geneva and Bethany wil mark the 42nd all-time meeting between the two institutions with the Golden Tornadoes holding a 29-11-1 edge over the Bison. The last Bethany victory came in a 42-36 overtime win on Homecoming back in 2012. Geneva holds a 3-2 advantage over the last five seasons.

The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Geneva’s Geno DeMarco meet for the second time in Garvey’s tenure as Head Coach of the Bison. DeMarco is 1-0 against Garvey, with Geneva securing a 51-33 win when the team’s met in Beaver Falls last season.

Garvey, who is in his second season as the head coach of the Bison, is 9-8 through his first 17 games at the helm, helping Bethany to its best start since the 2001 season. His record is currently the second best start in school history by a head coach. It has been 93 years since any Head Coach has been off to this kind of start, with the honor going to H.M. Buland, who started his career off at 10-7 in 1920-21.

DeMarco is currently in his 22nd season at the helm of the Geneva College program, and is the College’s all-time leader in wins, garnering that distinction back in 2003. DeMarco is the third longest tenured coach in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference behind Grove City’s Chris Smith (31 seasons) and Carnegie Mellon’s Rich Lackner (29 seasons).

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 contest against Washington & Jefferson, the Bison totaled 13.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Their tackles for loss total marked the fourth game this season that the Bison have registered double-digit tackles for loss. With their totals from a week ago, the Bison have now accumulated 72 tackles for loss and 30 sacks. Both averages of 10.3 tackles for loss per game and 4.29 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 60 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. In a complete collective effort, however, six different players on the Bison front seven have totaled at least 6.0 tackles for loss this season. Hayden is second in the team with 11.5, Kpadehyea is third with 9.0, sophomore Khallid Pierce is fourth with 8.5 while junior Eric Campbell (6.5) and Conover (6.0) rank fifth and sixth on the squad. All six players currently rank in the top 20 in the PAC. The next team on the list with the most players in the top 20 in tackles for loss is Thiel who currently have three.

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. This week, the Bison will have a chance to show off their skills in the trenches.

When the Geneva has the ball, the Bethany defense, which ranks fifth in the conference in rushing yards per game (135.1), will look to stop the Golden Tornadoes at the point of attack. The Golden Tornadoes have been slightly one-dimensional this season, as they come into the game ranked last in the conference in rushing offense per contest (68.7). The Green & White defense will look to hold its third opponent under 100 yards on the ground as they also accomplished the feat against Case Western (48) and Carnegie Mellon (41).

When the Bison take the field on offense, they will be led by a rushing attack that posted 301 total yards on the ground two weeks ago. The running game for Bethany currently ranks third in the conference in yards per game, averaging 180.3 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 Geneva squad that ranks sixth in the conference in rushing defense, allowing 138.8 yards per game.

Blinnsanity: Junior receiver Eric Blinn has totaled at least 11 catches, 130 yards and a score in four of his last five contests. Bethany’s all-time leading receiver, currently ranks first in the conference in both receptions (73), total receiving yards (710) and receiving yards per game (101.4). His reception total also ranks first in all of Division III. Through 27 games in his career, Blinn is the all-time active leader in Division III in receptions per game (8.1), and ranks second in receiving yards per contest (103.7).

Getting a leg up: A huge boost in the field position game, senior punter Stephen Amic has been the most consistent special teamer in the conference this season. Amic, who was recently named to the D3Football.com National Team of the Week, currently ranks first in the conference in punting average (41.1) and punts placed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line (16).

He also currently ranks 13th in all of Division-III in punting average.

Up Next: Next week the Bison will travel to Grove City College for their final road test of the season, while Geneva will take on conference leader, W&J in Washington. Both contests are scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start.