After a scoreless first half by both teams, the Bethany College football team exploded in the second half for five touchdowns and went to post a 33-14 victory over visiting Grove City Saturday afternoon at Bison Stadium.
The win, which was just the Bison's second over GCC in the last 15 years, raised the Green and White's records to 4-4 overall and 3-4 in the PAC. The Wolverines fell to 2-7 and 2-5 in the conference.
Both teams had chances in the opening quarter. Bethany took the opening kickoff and reached the Grove City 33 before turning the ball over on downs. Late in the quarter, the Wolverines recovered a fumble at the BC 34, but the Bison defense stoned the visitors on four straight plays to deny Grove City and get the ball back.
Missed opportunities ruled the second quarter as well. Early in the period, the Bison marched down to the Grove City four, but an incomplete pass on fourth down left the Green and White empty-handed. The Wolverines followed a similar script by taking possession and moving 64 yards in 14 plays, only to have three straight incomplete passes end the drive at the BC 32.
The final scoring chance of the half went by the board for Bethany when sophomore QB Matt Grimard was pressured into an interception at the Grove City five-yard line and the game remained scoreless going into halftime.
It didn't take long for the points to start flowing in the second half. After the Bethany defense forced a three-and-out on GCC's opening drive, senior Alex Evans returned the ensuing punt 44 yards to the Wolverine 17. Five plays later, Grimard bulled in from a yard out and the Bison were in front 7-0.
The BC special teams set up the next score as well. Sophomore Michael Howcott streaked through and blocked a Grove City punt, which Bethany recovered at the GCC one. The next play saw sophomore RB Nico Irizarry find the end zone for a 14-0 Green and White lead.
Grove City bounced back with their best drive of the afternoon, going 61 yards in 11 plays and scoring on a 14-yard scramble by quarterback Brian Pell. Early in the fourth quarter, Bison freshman CB Wyssmy Despagne picked off a Pell aerial and BC was in business again. A seven-play, 56-yard drive was capped off when Grimard tossed a two-yard scoring pass to junior linebacker Gage Lotozo, who was in the game as a goal-line blocker, and the Bison lead grew to 20-7.
Special teams continued to shine for Bethany, as a 33-yard punt return from junior Jordan Joyce put BC in prime scoring position again at the Wolverine 38. On fourth-and-12, Grimard lobbed a deep ball into the left corner of the end zone and junior wideout Johnathan Foster wrestled the pigskin away from two Grove City defenders for a 26-yard touchdown catch to make it a 27-7 Bethany lead.
Late in the period, the Wolverines scored one more time on a four-yard pass from Pell to Anthony Reda, but BC recovered the ensuing onside kick, which set up the final score of the game. Irizarry had a 36-yard run to get deep into GCC territory and on his third straight carry, senior RB Eric Walker scored from a yard out to push the final margin to 33-14.
Grimard triggered the Bethany offense that rang up 367 total yards in the victory. He completed 16-of-25 through the air for 209 yards and a pair of scores and added 60 yards and one more touchdown on the ground. Irizarry accounted for the highest rushing total in the game with 71 yards on only seven carries, while Evans hauled in four passes for 52 yards.
The Bison defense limited Grove City to 259 total yards and was led by sophomore safety Jamaan Webb with 11 tackles. Bethany also collected sacks from junior cornerback Jeff Joyce and sophomore DE Prince Aguzie and interceptions from Despagne and senior DB Kyle Nannah.
Bethany will be out on the road next week for the final time in 2011, as it travels to Saint Vincent for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Bearcats (5-4, 4-3 PAC). The Bison will close out the season on Nov. 19 with a home game against King's at 1 p.m. The contest is a make-up of a game originally scheduled to be played Sept. 10, but was postponed due to heavy flooding in the Wilkes-Barre, Pa., area.