September 15, 2011

Bethany vs. W&J Preview

More news about: Bethany

After getting an unscheduled week off last Saturday, the Bethany College football team will return to the field with a stiff test Saturday when Washington & Jefferson invades Bison Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff in the league opener for both squads.

The Bison opened the season with a 28-7 victory at Allegheny Sept. 3 and were slated to take on King's last Saturday in the home opener. However, due to flooding and a mandatory evacuation of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which shut down their school, King's was unable to make the trip out and the game was postponed. The possibility remains that the teams will make up the game Nov. 19th if neither Bethany nor King's makes the postseason, but that is little consolation to ease the disappointment of having a final tune-up for conference play eliminated.

"Not getting to play last week was disappointing in a whole bunch of ways," said Bison head coach Tim Weaver. "Any time you miss a chance to play it's tough because you only get 10 a year and it's not like you can just reschedule it up on Tuesday. We also really felt like playing a second game and getting to put kids in game situations one more time would be very beneficial heading into conference play.

"And strictly from a football lifer standpoint, we are creatures of habit and our whole routine was smashed," said Weaver. "But I was very happy with and proud of our players for how they handled it. We went full pads for practice Friday, which we never do, and full pads on Sunday, which we never do. Our guys didn't get pouty, got their focus back quickly and we went back to work."

There were upsides to having the weekend off according to Weaver, including being as close to 100 percent healthy as a team can be a couple weeks into the season and getting in some extra work in studying this week's opponent.

"Obviously we were able to control our injury situation, so we will be healthy," said Weaver. "We also gave everyone off all day Saturday and anytime you can give the guys a chance to clear their head and act like college kids, it can be a good thing because you don't get to do that often during the grind of the season. And from a coaching standpoint, we had all day Friday to watch W&J on film and were able to steal a couple extra days prep-wise, so there were positives."

The extra preparation couldn't have come at a better time for Bethany than leading up to W&J. The longest running series in the PAC has been controlled by the Presidents lately, as they hold a 68-20 advantage all-time against the Bison and have claimed 28 straight decisions. Unfortunately for BC, many of the contests have been decided early, as W&J has scored an average of 40 points in the first half in the last three games.

That story was true in last year's game, as the Presidents bolted out to a 45-0 halftime lead and went on to a 59-21 triumph at home. Quarterback Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) rushed for 129 yards and one TD and threw for 140 yards and another score, but also threw two interceptions and W&J gained 497 yards of total offense in the victory.

As Weaver and his staff have rebuilt the Bison, they have torn down many walls that impeded the progress of the program. The losing streak to W&J is one that remains standing and Weaver says his team is moving past the psychological impact the streak has had.

"That has been our challenge and we addressed it briefly on Sunday and moved the focus to ourselves and what we need to do," said Weaver. "One key for us is we have a more experienced roster and we know that none of the previous games have any impact on this one. I do hope that every kid who puts the pads on Saturday night wants to be on the team that ends the streak.

"When you look at last year, we beat Waynesburg and they took W&J to overtime, so there is no reason for W&J to be up on us 45-0 at halftime," said Weaver. "But now after Sunday, our focus is on the 2011 W&J team, their personnel and this team."

The 2011 W&J team brings a 1-1 record into Saturday's affair. After opening the year with a 40-0 victory at Juniata, the Presidents suffered a 20-19 defeat to #25 Delaware Valley Saturday. Making his second career start, junior QB Matt Bliss threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with his top target being Adam Dominick, who hauled in seven aerials for 105 yards. However, the W&J offense was hurt by three turnovers, six sacks and a 0-for-12 conversion rate on third downs. The team also suffered a missed extra point and a pair of missed field goals from 31 and 21 yards.

The Presidents' miscues Saturday were a combination of Delaware Valley's efforts and unforced errors, but Weaver doesn't expect the same fortunes this week unless Bethany can create big plays.

"Saturday was a great learning lesson that no team is good enough to overcome turnovers and missed extra points, things you take for granted," said Weaver. "(W&J's) last interception was the only real unforced error though, so Del Valley had a lot to say about what happened with the other ones. Del Valley did a great job pressuring Bliss and it's tough for any young quarterback if they can't get comfortable in the pocket. But W&J has a great coaching staff and they know how to bounce back."

The Presidents' defense has been strong the first two weeks. They held Juniata to a paltry 68 yards of total offense in week one and although Del Valley totaled 375 yards last Saturday, W&J did have six sacks and forced a trio of turnovers. Through the first two weeks, the Presidents have allowed teams to convert just 17 percent (5-29) of third down chances.

Linebacker Neil Sorice is a key man for the Bison to contend with Saturday. He was named PAC Defensive Player of the Week after amassing 17 tackles, the most by a President since 2003, one sack and one forced fumble. His 25 stops for the year are the most in the league and far ahead of W&J cornerback Nathan Melhorn (15) and safety Matthew Gal (13) for the team lead. Weaver says moving the ball against a good fundamental unit like the Presidents will be a challenge.

"Schematically, they are not the same but they are similar to Allegheny in they are well-coached and they don't beat themselves often, so you must execute," said Weaver. "They tackle very well, understand their coverage schemes and have a strong, aggressive front group. They don't need to rely on blitzes to generate pressure, but when they bring people, it is very effective. And watching them last week, Sorice had one of the best games by a PAC linebacker I've seen since we've been here."

If the Bison are going to start out 2-0 and win an opening game in PAC play for the first time since 2001, Weaver says the game obviously can't follow a similar script as previous W&J match-ups and the team must execute both offensively and defensively on the most important down.

"Very simply, if we want to win Saturday, it has to be a game at the end of the first quarter, which we haven't been able to say the last few games with them," said Weaver. "We also have to find ways to make enough plays on third down on defense to get them off the field and in the passing game on offense to maintain possession."
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
7:00 PM
Denison at Marietta
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
8:30 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos