Andrew Woodley, Sports Information Director
GROVE CITY, Pa. (Nov. 4) - The Bison eclipsed 400 yards of total offense for the first-time this season on its way to a 43-34 win at Grove City Saturday afternoon in a Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) game at Robert E. Thorn Field.
The win improves Bethany College to 1-8 overall, 1-6 in the PAC. Meanwhile, the Wolverines fall to 3-4 in conference play, 3-6 overall this season.
Sophomore running back Raekwon Wright (Baltimore, Md./Patterson) rushed 14 times for a career-high 158 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bison to the victory. The speedy sophomore helped close the game out with touchdown runs of 46 and 38 yards in the fourth quarter.
Senior quarterback Chase Kinemond (Shadyside, Ohio/Shadyside) finished the afternoon 14-of-23 for 176 yards and two touchdowns (zero interceptions), while senior wide receiver Shaq Ellis (Greenville, S.C./Southside) led Bethany with five catches for 72 yards.
Junior linebacker Joseph Fiasco (Wilmerding, Pa./Penn-Trafford), the regining PAC Defensive Player of the Week, led all players with 13 tackles (10 solo), including two for loss, and added an interception to his final line. Sophomore defensive end Chas Blango (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) recorded a career-high with 10 tackles (all solo) and had two for loss in the win.
Grove City went three-and-out on the game's first possession and allowed Bethany to start near midfield following a short punt. On the first offensive play for the Bison, Kinemond connected with sophomore Abe Lyles (Fort Washington, Md./Friendly) for a 53-yard touchdown pass to make the score 6-0 (PAT failed) less than two minutes into the game.
The Wolverines answered right back with an 11-play, 91-yard drive on their next possession and used a 22-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-6 lead with 8:24 left in the first quarter.
Bethany got the ball back and drove into the Grove City red zone, but stalled at the Wolverine 17-yard line. Senior kicker Chris Ray (Henrico, Va./Mills E. Godwin) had his 35-yard field goal attempt blocked at the line, but a crucial holding penalty on Grove City gave Bethany a first down at the eight-yard line. Two plays later sophomore backup quarterback Carlin Bason (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) rolled to his right and threw the ball back towards the left side to sophomore tight end Jacob Quinn (Byesville, Ohio/Meadowbrook), who was left wide open in the end zone with the defense overcommitting to the run. Ray tacked on the extra-point to give Bethany a 13-7 lead with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bison got the ball right back when Grove City running back Wesley Schools fumbled a first-down carry, which Bethany junior John Lee (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) fell on to setup Bethany with the ball at the Wolverine 24-yard line. Kinemond connected with freshman wide receiver Nijal Rodgers (New Kensington, Pa./Valley) on second down and the first-year wideout tip-toed into to end zone to build the Bison lead to 20-7 with under three minutes left in the first quarter.
The game slowed down with both teams trading short possessions, before a fumbled punt return by Bethany set up the Wolverines at the Bison 37-yard line. Grove City cashed in with a 37-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 20-14 with 11:41 left to play in the first half.
The Bison went with Bason under center on their next possession and he went on to culminate a four-play drive with a 60-yard touchdown right down the middle of the field to rebuild the Bethany lead to 26-14 (PAT failed) with just under 10 minutes until halftime.
The Green & White defense helped keep the Wolverines at bay with interceptions to end consecutive drives, but was only able to come away with a Ray 30-yard field goal that pushed the Bison lead to 29-14 heading into halftime.
Bethany opened the second half with a 38-yard leaping catch by Ellis from Kinemond that put the Bison on the Wolverine side of the field quickly, but Grove City pushed Bethany out of field goal range with a pair of sacks and forced a punt. Grove City went on to have a 16-play, 90-yard drive that took over seven minutes and ended with a one-yard quarterback keeper touchdown to make the score 29-21 with 5:04 left in the third quarter. The Wolverines ran the ball on 15 of the 16 plays and converted three third downs on the drive.
The score remained 29-21 when Grove City took over the ball with under nine minutes remaining in the game. The Wolverines would hold the ball for over five minutes, before capping off a 13-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to make the score 29-27 with 3:16 left on the clock. Grove City quarterback Randall Labrie attempted to run for the two-point conversion, but senior defensive end Khallid Pierce (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) did not bite on the option play and slammed the Wolverine quarterback down short of the goal line to preserve a two-point lead for the Bison.
Grove City elected to try an onside kick, but Bethany recovered and took full advantage of the short field. Wright broke loose on a third down play and raced down the sidelines for a 38-yard touchdown run to increase the Bison lead to nine, 36-27, with 2:51 left in the contest.
Bethany only used 24 seconds of game-time on the scoring drive, as Grove City used two timeouts, allowing the Wolverines plenty of time to respond. Labrie led Grove City down the field and completed a seven-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 remaining in the game. The drive only used 52 seconds of game clock and pulled the Wolverines back within two at 36-34.
Another failed onside kick attempt by Grove City allowed Bethany to take over possession in Wolverine territory and setup another big run by Wright. After a first-down rush for no gain, Wright broke through the line and dashed past every Grove City defender down the sidelines for his second touchdown of the game that gave the Bison a 43-34 lead and helped seal the victory away with 1:39 remaining in the game.
Bethany offensively had its best game of the season with 403 yards of total offense (214 rushing; 189 passing) and 43 points.
Grove City out-gained the Bison and finished with nearly a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, but a trio of turnovers and five sacks by the Bethany defense helped earn the Bison their first win of the season.
Ray's 30-yard field goal moved him up the ranks in the Bethany record books. He now stands alone at second all-time in school history with 15 made field goals.
Labrie finished the day 25-of-41 for 301 yards passing and four touchdowns (two interceptions) to lead the Wolverines. His favorite target was Cody Gustafson, who hauled in 15 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns for Grove City.
Bethany Head Coach Bill Garvey improved to 5-0 all-time versus Grove City with the win.
Bethany will look to close the 2017 season with a pair of wins when they head to Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 11 to take on Saint Vincent (2-7, 1-6 PAC) at 1 p.m.