NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Freshman QB Matt Grimard accounted for 286 yards of offense and had a hand in five touchdowns, while junior RB Eric Walker rushed for 174 yards and scored twice to lead the Bethany College football team to a 47-39 victory at Westminster Saturday.
The win raised the Bison's record to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the PAC, which is the first time BC has had a winning record in the league since 2001. The Titans fell to 1-4 and 0-3 in the conference.
The game had a dreadful start for Bethany, as Westminster's Shane Peterson returned the opening kickoff 62 yards to the BC 25. The Titans would settle for a 26-yard field goal from that drive, but on the first play after the kickoff, Grimard fumbled and Westminster recovered at the Bison 17. Two plays later, Titan QB Shawn Lehocky scampered 10 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Titan lead.
Bethany began to impose their will with their next possession. Walker broke off runs of 20 and 21 yards and Grimard kept it for a 17-yard pick-up to take the Bison deep into enemy territory. The eight-play, 77-yard drive ended on a one-yard QB sneak by Grimard, but the extra point was missed, leaving it a 10-6 Westminster lead.
After forcing a Titan punt, the Bison methodically moved the ball downfield for the go-ahead score. The Green and White used 18 plays to march 66 yards and facing a fourth-and-goal at the one, Grimard went into the end zone on another sneak to give Bethany the lead for good at 13-10, which was the start of a huge second quarter for BC.
On Westminster's next drive, freshman FS Jordan Joyce picked off a pass to snuff out a threat and give Bethany possession at their own 49. The 10-play, 51-yard drive that followed was highlighted by Grimard going 3-for-3 through the air for 29 yards and the freshman signal caller notched his third score of the day when he took it to paydirt from three yards away to extend the Bison cushion to 20-10.
Bethany's defense stopped the Titans again and after a bad snap on the punt led to a short kick, BC took over at their own 44 with 30 seconds to play. The Bison offense needed just four plays and 23 seconds to take it the distance. Walker began the drive with a 19-yard run and two plays later, Grimard fired a strike to freshman WR Chris Collins, who raced 27 yards to the end zone with only seven ticks showing on the clock to send Bethany to the halftime locker room with a 27-10 advantage.
After the Bison were forced to punt on their opening possession of the second half, the defense forced another turnover. Freshman SS Adrian White intercepted a Lehocky pass and took it back four yards to the Bison 46. Three plays later, Grimard rolled out to his left and flipped a short pass to Walker, who sprinted 39 yards for the touchdown and the extra point ballooned the lead to 34-10.
Bethany's last trip to Westminster two years ago saw them lose two big leads and end up falling to the Titans as time expired. The home team would not go away in this one either, as they answered the Bison score with a six-play, 53-yard drive that ended on Tyler Banks' eight-yard touchdown run and when Lehocky tossed the two-point conversion pass to Jim Bonenberger, the BC lead was cut to 34-18.
A wild fourth quarter began with Bethany getting to the end zone again. Grimard hit sophomore WR C.J. Thomas with a 33-yard toss for the big blow, but it was freshman RB Nico Irizarry who carried five times on the possession for 34 yards, including a four-yard touchdown jaunt for his first collegiate score. The extra point was no good after banging off the upright, leaving it a 40-18 Bethany margin.
The teams exchanged scores on their next possessions again, as Westminster motored down the field to score on a 22-yard pass from Lehocky to Geno Pasquinelli. Bethany followed that by appearing to put the game away with another long drive. The 11-play, 65-yard march, their third drive of the game that went 10 or more plays, ended when Walker bulled in from the one for his second score of the game and the extra point extended the lead to 47-25.
The Titans came back with a pair of touchdowns to get within one score. The first TD came on a 17-yard pass from Lehocky to Connor Kobis with 2:26 left to trim the margin to 47-32. The Bison recovered the onside kick, but turned the ball over on downs and Westminster raced 67 yards in just five plays and needed only 32 seconds to get in the end zone on a 17-yard pass play from Lehocky to Austin Cope. The extra point made the difference 47-39 with 54 seconds to play.
The ensuing onside kick was nearly recovered by Westminster, but ended up going out of the bounds and giving possession to the Bison. With the Titans out of timeouts, BC downed it twice to secure the win and snap a 17-game losing streak at Westminster which dated back to a 9-0 Bethany triumph 70 years ago in 1940.
The backfield duo of Grimard and Walker dominated the storylines again for the Green and White. Grimard completed 10-of-12 through the air for a career-high 204 yards and the two scores, while adding in 82 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Walker carried a career-high 33 times for 174 yards (5.3 avg.) and scored twice, while the receivers' efforts were highlighted by sophomore Ed Holmes (four receptions, 49 yards) and Thomas (three receptions, 76 yards).
The defensive side was paced by sophomore LB Gage Lotozo and Joyce with nine tackles each. The INTs by Joyce and White were the first two of the year for the Bethany defense.
Bethany will be abck on the road next week at Thiel (0-5, 0-3), who was off this weekend. If the Bison can come away with a victory, it will give them a three-game winning streak and be their longest since taking five in a row to open the 2001 campaign. Kickoff in Greenville is slated for 1:30 p.m.