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Week Nine Game Notes: Bison Football Looks to Stop Slide Against Grove City

Oct. 30 - BETHANY, W. Va. - The Bethany College football team will look to secure a finish of better than .500 when the Bison travel to Grove City College for a contest with the Wolverines on Saturday, Nov. 1. With a win, the Bison will secure at least a six-win season for the first time since 2001. 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, dropping their last contest to Geneva College on October 25.

Bethany fell to the Golden Tornadoes by a score of 20-14. Trailing 13-0 late into the first half, the Bison got their first score of the game, as Brian Vales found Eric Blinn for a nine-yard touchdown to send the game into the half with the Green & White trailing 13-7.

After neither team could crack the scoreboard in the third quarter, Geneva extended their advantage to 20-7 on a 30-yard touchdown run.

Just 1:50 later, the Bison would once again respond as Vales found Blinn for the second time in the contest, cutting the Geneva lead to 20-14 on a seven-yard touchdown pass.

The Bison would get a chance to notch the go-ahead score as the Bethany defense set the Green & White up with great field position. On a fumbled snap by the Golden Tornadoes, junior Nadim Raddar pounced on the loose ball to give the Bison possession with just under two minutes to go.

Bethany, however, could not find the end zone, as Vales was picked off by the Geneva defense to end the game, and hand the Bison their second-straight defeat.

In the contest, the Bison defense was once again solid, allowing just 13 points in the game. They also forced three turnovers, including fumble recoveries by Raddar and Anthony Thompson as well as an interception by Dion Williams.

The Bison defense held Geneva to just 246 total yards, including 102 passing yards. They also totaled a season-high 17.0 tackles for loss and three sacks in the game. Sophomore Khallid Pierce led the way in tackles for loss, finishing with 4.5.

Grove Ciy: The Wolverines come into the contest having dropped their first seven games of the season, including a 64-7 loss to Thomas More last week. In the game, Grove City allowed 625 total yards to the Saints, which included over 300 yards apiece in both the run and passing games.

Defensively, the Wolverines were led by Jason Skyrm who totaled 14 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss in the contest.

The Series: This year’s meeting between the Bison and Grove City will mark the 67th all-time meeting between the two institutions with the Wolverines holding a 41-23-2 edge over the Bison.

When last they met: The Bison and Wolverines played a contest down to the wire when the two teams met at Bison Stadium in 2013. Bethany came into their Homecoming contest having dropped three-straight to open the season. Bethany held a 21-3 advantage at the half, and were ahead 34-24 in the game’s waning minutes thanks to a fumble recovery touchdown by offensive lineman James Norkus. Grove City would then score a touchdown to get within three with under two minutes to play.

After capturing the onside kick, the Wolverines set themselves up to drive for the go-ahead score. However, defensive back Channan Scott ended the game by picking off a Brian Pell pass with just 1:08 remaining in the contest, and the Bison walked away with the 34-31 win.

Eric Blinn and Chris Collins led the way offensively for the Bison. Blinn totaled 10 catches for 163 yards, while Collins hauled in eight receptions for 65 yards and two scores.

The Coaches: Bethany’s Bill Garvey and Grove City’s Chris Smith meet for the second time in Garvey’s tenure as Head Coach of the Bison. Garvey holds a 1-0 advantage over Smith with a 34-31 win last season.

Garvey, who is in his second season as the head coach of the Bison, is currently sitting at a .500 record through his first 18 games at the helm of Bethany football program. The last coach to post at least a .500 record through his first 18 games was H.M. Buland who went 11-7 between the years of 1920-1921.

Smith is currently in his 31st season at the helm of the Grove City program, and is the College’s all-time leader in wins. Smith is the Presidents’ Athletic Conference longest tenured coach, having two seasons over Rich Lackner of Carnegie Mellon.

Strong Defense: Despite taking the loss against Geneva last week, the Bison defense once again showed how dominant they can be. The Green & White allowed just 246 total yards, including only 104 passing yards in the contest. The allowed just 13 points, while giving up just 3.1 yards per play against the Golden Tornadoes.

The Bethany defense was once again solid at the point of attack, as they registered a season-best 17.0 tackles for loss. It marked the fifth time this season that the Bison have totaled at least 10 tackles for loss in a contest. In the game, the Bison were led by Sophomore Khallid Pierce, who finished the contest with a season-high 4.5 TFL, the most of any Bison in a single game this year.

So far on the season, Bethany has totaled 89.0 tackles for loss, ranking them first in the all of Division-III in total TFL. Their 11.1 tackles for loss per game currently ranks third in the country.

Individually, six different Bison rank in the top 14 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in tackles for loss. Not only does junior Nadim Raddar rank first in the PAC in total tackles for loss (18.0), but he also ranks first in the country. Junior Donavan Hayden is second in the conference in TFL (14.5), while Pierce ranks fourth (13.0). Junior Larry Kpadehyea (10.0) is tied for seventh while junior Eric Campbell and sophomore Matt Conover (8.5) are tied for 13th.

This week, the Bison, who rank third in the conference in total defense (338.0/game) go up against a Grove City offense that ranks last in the PAC in yards per game (253.3).

Blinnsanity: Junior Eric Blinn continues to lead the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in all major reception categories. Last week, the junior wideout posted nine catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. His totals gave him 82 total catches for 812 yards and eight scores, all of which lead the PAC.

Blinn now sits just 14 catches away from breaking his own single-season receptions record of 95 which he set just one year ago. He also now sits at 22 career touchdown receptions, placing him just three TDs away from tying the career mark of 25 set by Matt Cruse between 2006-2009.

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 National Team of the Week two weeks ago, currently ranks first in the conference in punting average (41.0) and punts placed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line (17).  He also currently ranks 14th in all of Division-III in punting average.

Up Next: The Bison will have their off week on Nov. 8 before returning home for their final regular season game. The Green & White will take on Saint Vincent College on Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. The contest will also serve as Bethany’s senior day. The Wolverines will be back in action for their final road test of the year against Westminster on Nov. 8.