Andrew Woodley, Sports Information Director
BETHANY, W.Va. (Oct. 28) - Despite holding the league's top-offense well under their average, the Bison were dealt a 21-0 loss by Thomas More on a rainy Senior Day at Bison Stadium Saturday afternoon in a Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) game.
The loss sends the Bethany College football team to 0-8 overall, 0-6 in the PAC, while the Saints improve to 4-3 in conference play, 5-4 overall this season.
Thomas More entered the game averaging a PAC-best 489.5 yards of offense per game, but the Bethany defense managed to hold them to 360 yards on the day. The Bison forced four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) and ended the game with five sacks.
Junior linebacker Joseph Fiasco (Wilmerding, Pa./Penn-Trafford) finished the game with a career-high 17 tackles (seven solo), with two sacks and a forced fumble to lead the defense. Junior linebacker Will Gatling (Baltimore, Md./Northwestern), the leading tackler in the PAC this season, finished with 12 tackles (five solo), including two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Senior defensive end Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) finished the afternoon with two sacks and stands alone at second all-time in Bethany football history with 26.5 sacks. Pierce had been tied for second all-time with former Bison Nadim Raddar (2014-15) and is five sacks behind Dan Rovira (1990-91), who ended his career with 31.5 sacks.
Neither team could find any rhythm on offense in the first quarter, but Bethany held the upper-hand in field position thanks to the punting of senior Chase Kinemond (Shadyside, Ohio/Shadyside). Kinemond consistantly pinned the Saints deep in their own territory and forced Thomas More to start four drives inside their own 10-yard line.
Thomas More finally flipped the field with a turnover when Bethany's Raekwon Wright (Baltimore, Md./Patterson) fumbled a punt return at the Bison 39-yard line. The Green & White defense allowed the Saints to move into the redzone, but back-to-back sacks and an interception on a 3rd-and-long play kept the game scoreless heading into the second quarter.
After both teams traded possessions, Thomas More fumbled and gave the Bison the ball at the Saints 39-yard line with under 90 seconds left in the half. Kinemond was then intercepted on the second play of the series by Thomas More's Cody Coffey, who returned the ball down to the Bison 27-yard line. On the very next play, Thomas More quarterback Brenan Kuntz had his pass intercepted by senior defensive back Lee Sanders (Waldorf, Md./McDonugh) in the end zone to complete a string of three turnovers on four plays.
Bethany took over the ball with 32 seconds on the clock and had its biggest play of the game, a 49-yard rush by Wright, that moved the ball down to the Thomas More 31-yard line. A run by Wright of seven yards in the final 10 seconds helped setup senior Chris Ray with a 41-yard field goal attempt to close out the half, but the kick was short of the crossbar and sent the game into halftime scoreless.
Thomas More assumed control of the game in the second half. The Saints scored on each of its first three possessions following the break and built a 21-0 lead on touchdown drives of 77, 63 and 69 yards.
Bethany moved the ball into Thomas More territory twice in the second half, but failed to convert on a pair of fourth downs which haulted both drives, allowing the Saints to shutout the Bison for the first time this season.
Kinemond ended the day completing 14-of-36 attempts for 121 yards with one interception. He also helped on special teams, where he finished with a 40 yard average on nine punts with four inside the 20-yard line.
Wright was the team's best offensive threat, ending the day with 90 yards rushing on 13 carries with two catches for 20 yards out of the backfield.
The Bison continued to struggle on third down, converting only one of 15 tries, compared to the 7-for-15 posted by the Saints.
Prior to the game, the team honored its 11 seniors for their contributions to the program over the past four seasons. Bethany also posthumously inducted former administrator Maxine Lowe into the "Bethany Football Wall of Fame" at halftime for her more than 30 years of service to the program and the athletic department.
The Bison will travel to Grove City, Pennsylvania next Saturday, November 4 for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff against the Grove City College Wolverines in a PAC contest.