Andrew Woodley, Sports Information Director
BETHANY, W.Va. (Sept. 16) - Despite taking a lead into halftime, the Bethany College football team was defeated 28-13 by Thiel College in a Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) game Saturday afternoon at Bison Stadium.
The loss drops the Bison to 0-3 overall, 0-1 to open play in the PAC. Meanwhile, the Tomcats begin the conference slate 1-0 and improve to 1-2 overall this season.
Senior quarterback Chase Kinemond (Shadyside, Ohio/Shadyside) finished the afternoon 19-of-33 for 225 yards (zero interceptions) and added 17 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown on the ground.
Senior wide receiver Shaq Ellis (Greenville, S.C./Southside) established career-highs with six catches for 58 yards in the air, while the rushing attack was led by sophomore running back Raekwon Wright (Baltimore, Md./Patterson), who tallied 50 yards on 14 carries.
After a Bethany three-and-out to open the game, Thiel marched 77 yards down the field to the Bison eight-yard line and were faced with a third-and-goal. Tomcat quarterback Ronald Brown rolled to his right and found a wide open Justin Zinsmeister in the end zone to give Thiel a 7-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
The Green & White responded with their own scoring drive, which included a pair of third down conversions. Kinemond connected on a third-and-12 with sophomore wide receiver Darius Taylor (Leesburg, Va./Loudoun County) for 27 yards to keep the drive alive and four plays later found sophomore wide out Hunter Klein (Leonardstown, Md./Leonardstown) for a 34-yard reception that set up the Bison with a first down at the Thiel three-yard line. Sophomore backup quarterback Carlin Bason (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run on a direct snap to tie the game at 7-7 with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Thiel's next drive stalled on a fourth down try in Bethany territory. The Bison took the ball and Kinemond connected on a pair of passes to freshman wide receiver Chaz Muse (Baltimore, Md./Baltimore Polytechnic) and added a 22-yard run of his own to put the Bison on the Tomcat 13-yard line. Kinemond finished the drive off himself on a read-option play in which he scrambled up the middle for the touchdown to give Bethany a 13-7 lead (PAT failed) less than three minutes into the second quarter.
The Bison had a chance to add to its lead, as an interception by junior linebacker Will Gatling (Baltimore, Md./Northwestern) set the offense up at the Thiel 27-yard line. Bethany drove the ball down into the red zone and down to the 10-yard line, but were unable to convert on third down. The ensuing 28-yard field goal attempt was deflected at the line and fell short of the uprights, leaving the score at 13-7 with 9:05 remaining until halftime. Neither team created much offensively in the final 10 minutes of the second quarter and the score remained the same entering the locker rooms for halftime.
The defenses for both teams continued their strong play to open the second half, as both offenses combined for four punts in the first five minutes of the third quarter. Thiel took over possession on its own eight-yard line and began a methodical 15-play drive that took over six minutes off of the clock and included four third down conversions. The Tomcats were set up with a first down from the Bethany 24-yard line on the 15th play of the drive when sophomore defensive end Chas Blango (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) broke through the offensive line and strip-sacked the quarterback of the football. Sophomore defensive lineman Zach Brown (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) fell on the ball to halt the Tomcat drive and give the Bison the ball.
The defense was unable to rest long. On the very next play, the Tomcats penetrated the backfield and forced a fumble on a read-option play that gave Thiel the ball back on the Bethany 10-yard line. Three plays later the Tomcats plunged into the end zone from one yard out on a third down play to take a 14-13 lead with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
The Bison went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and Thiel went to its ground game to begin the fourth quarter. Tomcat running back Nick Barca rushed five times down to the Bison 22-yard line to setup a third down and eight. Barca found a hole to the right side and dashed down the sidelines, before he reached the ball out for the end zone pylon. Barca lost possession of the ball and fumbled it into the endzone where the Bison recovered to halt another Thiel drive and keep the score at 14-13 early in the fourth quarter.
The Bethany offense found little success in the final quarter of the game and a pair of Nick Barca touchdowns on each of Thiel's next two possessions sealed the Tomcats' 28-13 win over the Bison.
Thiel held a 384-to-290 edge in total offense, including a 232-to-65 advantage in rushing yards that helped keep the Bison defense on the field for long stretches. The Tomcats ended the afternoon with nearly a 14-minute advantage in time of possession and were 9-for-21 (43 percent) on third down.
The Bison defense was led all day by Gatling, who totaled a game-high 13 tackles (eight solo), a tackle for loss and an interception. Junior safety John Lee (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) tallied eight tackles and had a huge hit over the middle to break-up a third down pass on the opening drive of the second half.
Tomcat running back Nick Barca finished the day with 189 yards rushing on 33 carries with two touchdowns and one lost fumble to lead Thiel offensively.
The Bison will hit the road next Saturday, September 23 when they travel to New Wilmington, Pennsylvania to take on Westminster College for a PAC contest. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.