Bethany gets win for the program

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Matthew Grimard
Matt Grimard has rushed for a team-high 518 yards in addition to his 585 yards passing.
Bethany athletics photo

One game does not define a program. However, one win over a highly regarded opponent can certainly get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Last Saturday afternoon, the Bethany Bison got their landmark victory by upsetting the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets 24-17. Waynesburg entered the game at 2-1 overall and was 2-0 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Had they won, the Yellow Jackets would have been 3-0 in conference play with a half-game lead over the Thomas More Saints.

Bethany (2-3 overall) improved to 1-1 in PAC play.

“Really, it was the Geneva game the week before as much as the Waynesburg game,” said coach Tim Weaver. “We’ve been grinding this thing for really four years with our staff. We felt we hit the ‘reset button’ two years ago when we got our new facility and our field turf, lights and locker rooms. It really upgraded our ability to recruit and left us with a young football team for the last two years.

“We’re still playing a lot of sophomores and some of our best players are in their last two years and they stuck with us,” he added. “The competitiveness of the Geneva game gave us the confidence that we needed to go out and beat Waynesburg. That game Saturday kind of felt like a program changer.”

While the coaches saw progress, the players could sense something special was happening.

“We’re a really young team with a lot of new faces, but before the game, it was a different vibe in the locker room,” said junior running back Eric Walker. “It just seemed like everybody was comfortable in their positions, their roles and it felt really good to be a part of it.

“We felt confident from the beginning of the game,” he added. “We practiced really hard all week, prepared for it all week, so just being in the game, we wanted to compete against them. We wanted to play our best and went out there and gave everything we had.”

Walker rushed for a game-high 96 yards on 26 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and scored two touchdowns in the win. In fact, Walker, Bethany’s captain, scored the first two touchdowns of the game and spotted the Bison a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter in front of the home crowd. He added three receptions for 13 yards.

Though he was a catalyst for Bethany’s offense, Walker deflected all praise and chose, instead, to talk about freshman quarterback Matt Grimard, who went 17-of-22 for 173 yards through the air and gained another 83 yards on 20 carries. Grimard broke a 17-17 deadlock with a five-yard touchdown run at the 7:45 mark of the fourth quarter.

“As with any freshman, I offer as much help as possible,” Walker said. “Before every practice, I say, ‘Hey guys, if anyone needs help, y’all have my number. Let me know and I’ll help anybody out.’ We don’t want to leave anybody behind and we certainly don’t want to leave anybody that’s going to stick with the program behind.

“Matt was one of the people we tried to get surrounded early because we were weak at the quarterback position,” he added. “He’s developed into an asset for the team.”

Even though Grimard is a freshman, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound native of Lowell, Mass., is a quick learner. He had to be when Chad Smith, who was on pace to rewrite Bethany’s passing records, was held out of competition due to his history of concussions.

“We knew he had a really unique skill set,” Weaver said. “He’s huge, has a very strong arm and he’s really football smart. His liabilities are his footwork and mechanics. They aren’t where they need to be, which most freshmen aren’t.

“Through training camp and the first few weeks of the season, Bill Garvey, our offensive coordinator, has been figuring out the throws he can make and is comfortable making,” Weaver continued. “I think we’ve got it down now to where we can put Matt in a position to have success.”

While the Waynesburg win was nice for the Bison, the upperclassmen, who have suffered through many losses, will not let the younger players get overconfident.

 “We are what we are on paper until we prove otherwise,” Walker said. “Like everybody else, we would like to win the championship, but we’re going to take one step at a time. We don’t want to think too far ahead. We know where we’re at. We’re a good team. We’re not a great team, but we’re working to be a great team.”

News and Notes
Sophomore quarterback Chase Belton led the Wabash Little Giants to a 40-3 victory over Kenyon last weekend. He completed 31-of-41 passes for a career-high 399 yards and four touchdowns. Belton more than doubled the amount of yardage gained by Kenyon’s offense (399-to-162).

Heidelberg quarterback Andrew Miller broke three Ohio Athletic Conference records in a 60-50 loss to the Capital Crusaders last weekend. He completed 30 passes for 569 yards, which broke the single-game mark by 82 yards. In addition to his six touchdown passes, Miller gained 18 yards on the ground and surpassed the total offensive yards record as well.

Senior fullback Justin Pratt gained 146 yards and scored four touchdowns on 16 carries as the Carnegie Mellon Tartans cruised to a 62-31 win over the Hiram Terriers last Saturday. Pratt helped the Tartans set a school record with 585 rushing yards and 679 yards of total offense.

Junior linebacker Brock Reinig helped the Trine Thunder earn a 24-16 victory agianst the Adrian Bulldogs last Saturday. He registered five total tackles, two of which were for lost yardage, two sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Great Lakes Region Teams in D3football.com’s Top 25 Poll This Week
No. 2-Mount Union (OAC)-No change after a 27-0 win over Ohio Northern
No. 8-Wittenberg (NCAC)-Down one spot following a 27-21 win at Oberlin
No. 10-Thomas More (PAC)-Up one spot after a 42-3 win over Thiel
No. 13-Ohio Northern (OAC)-Down five spots following a 27-0 loss at Mount Union
No. 15-Trine (MIAA)-Down one spot after a 24-16 win at Adrian
No. 19-Wabash (NCAC)-Up one spot following a 40-3 win at Kenyon

Others Receiving Votes: Case Western Reserve (UAA), Otterbein (OAC) and Baldwin-Wallace (OAC)

Games of the Week
Thomas More (4-0, 2-0 PAC) at Grove City (2-2, 1-1), Saturday, 2 p.m.:
Despite earning a win against Washington and Jefferson earlier this season, the Thomas More Saints have to find a way to stop Grove City’s running attack if they hope to continue their run atop the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

Capital (2-2, 2-1 OAC) at Ohio Northern (3-1, 2-1), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Ohio Northern looks to rebound from its 27-0 loss at Mount Union, but will have to find a way to temper the Crusaders’ offense, which scored 60 points in a win over Heidelberg last weekend.

Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

2012-14 columnist: Brian Lester
2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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