Sept. 30 - BETHANY, W. Va. - The Bethany College football team (2-2, 1-1 PAC) will look to win their fourth-straight Homecoming decision when they welcome Case Western Reserve University to Bison Stadium for the first time since 1982. Full game notes can be viewed below.
The Bison: Bethany enters week five having alternated wins and losses over the first month of the season. The Green & White continued the trend last week, by taking care of business on the road against Waynesburg University, 27-14.
In the win over the Yellow Jackets, the Bison were able to show their ability to win at any style of football, as they held the advantage in an offensive game in the first half, and held strong in the second-half defensive struggle.
The first half of the game proved to be a fast-paced, offensive affair, with the two teams combining for 552 yards and 38 total points. When the dust settled in the opening half, the Bison held a 24-14 lead. Bethany showed flashes of brilliance in the half, totaling 369 yards on 43 plays while averaging 8.5 yards per play in the stanza. Senior Lincon Reyes led the way in the half, throwing for 280 yards and a pair of scores on 25 attempts.
The second half was all about the defense, as Bethany shutout the Yellow Jackets over the final two quarters. The lone points of the half came on Chris Ray’s second field goal of the game, and the Bison finished out the scoring, 27-14.
In the third and fourth quarters, the Bison held Waynesburg to just 3.8 yards per play, forcing four of their final five possessions to end via the turnover. Perhaps the biggest play came from senior Dion Williams, who intercepted a Jake Dougherty pass in the end zone to preserve the 13-point lead.
Overall, the Bison offense was led by Reyes, who posted a career-high 342 yards and a pair of scores. Ambush also totaled a career best, notching 177 yards on just six catches, while averaging 29.5 yards per reception. Blinn also finished the contest with 100+ yards, notching 107 on 12 catches.
Defensively, Donavan Hayden earned PAC Defensive Player of the Week as he notched 16 tackles, forced two fumbles and added a pair of pass deflections.
Case Western: The Spartans enter the matchup with Bethany having posted their third-consecutive impressive offensive performance. Case Western Reserve University upended Thiel College on the road, 41-6.
The game marked the third-straight contest in which CWRU has tallied at least 30 points, as they outscored the Tomcats 34-0 in the middle two quarters. Sophomore Rob Cuda made the most of his third-career start, finishing the game with 341 total yards of offense. He completed 20-of-31 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns, while added 91 yards and a score on the ground.
Defensively, Case Western posted another solid performance, holding Thiel to 245 total yards and forcing a pair of turnovers. The Spartans totaled seven tackles for loss and five sacks in the contest.
The Series: The matchup between the Bison and Spartans will mark the 16th all-time meeting between the two programs, with the Green & White holding a 13-2 advantage. Prior to last season, the two teams had not met on the gridiron since the 1983 season.
When last they met: The Bison went into their first meeting with the Spartans since 1983 riding a three-game winning streak, having previously knocked off Waynesburg 33-27. Bethany put together an overall stout defensive performance, defeating the Spartans by a 25-14 score.
After Case Western took the early lead, scoring on their first drive of the game, the Bison responded with 19-unanswered points, including a pair of touchdown runs by Brandon Hill. Eric Blinn also caught a touchdown pass in the run, surpassing Matt Cruse’s career mark for receiving yards in the process.
CWRU would cut the Bethany lead to 19-14, before the Bison put the game away on a touchdown run by Jalen Holmes. The defense would then hold strong the rest of the game, giving Bethany the 25-14 win, and their first four-game winning streak in Head Coach Bill Garvey’s brief tenure.
In the contest, Bethany dominated both lines of scrimmage, outgaining the Spartans 400-249 in the win. The Bison “D” held Case Western Reserve University to just 41 total rushing yards in the victory, the lowest rushing total allowed by the team since 2011. The Green & White also totaled 12.0 tackles for loss and five sacks, led by three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks from Nadim Raddar.
Offensively, Blinn led the way for Bethany, totaling 15 catches for 145 yards and a score. Hill added two touchdowns and 87 yards on the ground, while Holmes notched 74 yards and a touchdown.
Slowing Down the Spartans: When the Bison and Spartans take the field on Saturday, the Green & White will be tasked with shutting down the third-highest scoring offense in the PAC. Case Western enters the game averaging a gaudy 40.0 points per game. The Spartans ranked second in the conference in total yards (479.0) while averaging 301.0 yards per game through the air and 178.0 per game on the ground.
The biggest reason for the Spartans success has been the play of sophomore QB Rob Cuda. The multi-faceted quarterback currently ranks second in the conference in passing yards per game (275.0), while sitting fifth in the PAC in rushing yards per game (98.3). Through three career starts, Cudy has total 825 yards passing and 10 touchdowns while not committing a single turnover.
Looking to slow down the multi-tooled QB will be Bethany’s senior linebacker Donavan Hayden. Hayden has been a nightmare for opposing offenses this season, ranking first in the PAC in tackles per game 11.3. He currently leads the Bison in tackles for loss (6.5) while sitting first in the conference in forced fumbles (4).
The Bison defense will look to stop the Spartans at the point of attack, as they have continued on their hot streak from a year ago. In three out of four contests this season, the Green & White have amassed at least 10.0 tackles for loss per game.
Masters of the Big Play: So far during the 2015 campaign, the Green & White have showed their ability to strike quickly. Through four games, Bethany has tallied nine scoring drives that have lasted under a minute, with eight of those coming for touchdowns.
Their ability to break off the big play has attributed to their quick-strike ability. So far, Bethany has scored 10 touchdowns that have come outside of their opponents’ red zone this season. The Bison have tallied eight scoring plays of at least 30 yards with four of those coming from 50+.
The Bison have shown balance in their attack as they have notched six touchdown runs of at least 20 yards, adding four touchdown passes of the same variety.
Bethany’s offense will look to break through a Case Western Reserve defense that has allowed just 20 combined points over their last two contests.
Control the Line: As was the case in 2014, the Bison enter the contest with CWRU having seen recent success in their run game. Junior Jalen Holmes has taken over as Bethany’s feature back, and currently ranks fourth in the PAC in rushing yards per game (98.8). As a team, the Green & White rank third in the conference in rushing touchdowns behind only Thomas More and Washington & Jefferson.
Once again, Bethany will take on a Case Western squad that ranks at the top of the PAC leader board in opponents’ rushing yards per game. The Spartans have been stout against ground attacks this year, allowing just 61.7 yards per game, and 2.0 yards per carry. Case currently ranks 13th in all of Division III against the run.
The two teams were in the same boat last season, with Case Western allowing just 83 yards per game on the ground until they met Bethany. In that game, the Bison outgained the Spartans 206-41 in the rushing attack.
Weekend Festivities: Along with the football game on Saturday, four other Bethany Athletics program will be on campus on Saturday, including men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and women’s tennis.
The Hugh “Tiger” Joyce golf scramble will also take place over the weekend, as will the Bethany Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The inductees for this year include Will Anderson (‘03), Raquel (Burns) Davis (‘03), Matt King (‘00) and Mike Majzun (‘03).