November 19, 2011

Bethany's Walker Sets Rushing Record in Win Over King's

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In addition to scoring two touchdowns, Bethany College senior running back Eric Walker ran for 132 yards to become the all-time leading rusher in school history, as the Bison shutout King's 48-0 Saturday afternoon in the season finale.

The game was originally scheduled to be played Sept. 10, but was postponed due to flooding in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on the King's campus. The victory gave Bethany a final mark of 5-5 for a second straight .500 season. It's the first time consecutive .500 seasons have been posted since going 5-5 in 2000 and 6-3 in 2001. The Monarchs finished the season with a 1-9 record.

Walker entered the game needing just 31 yards to surpass Will Anderson's (1999-02) total of 2,946 rushing yards and he didn't wait long to secure the record. He took eight straight handoffs to open the game, but his fifth attempt, a seven-yard run, is what put him past Anderson and atop the Bison record books for rushing yards. Walker would cap the drive with a ninth carry covering five yards for the touchdown to put Bethany in front 7-0.

The Bison offense was on the move late in the first quarter and the drive culminated in another TD early in the second period. Sophomore RB Nico Irizarry completed an 11-play, 61-yard drive with a three-yard scoring jaunt to extend the cushion to 14-0.

The game looked like it would go to halftime with Bethany on top by two touchdowns until a frantic final minute of the second quarter. After King's missed a field goal attempt, the Bison needed just six plays and one minute to motor 89 yards for another score. Sophomore QB Matt Grimard threw a strike to junior WR Ed Holmes, who carried a defender into the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown pass.

One play after the kickoff, Bison junior cornerback Jeff Joyce picked off a Monarchs' pass and took it back 40 yards for a touchdown. The second Green and White TD in 24 seconds sent the home team into the locker room with a 28-0 lead.

Bethany tacked on two quick touchdowns in the third quarter. On their opening possession of the second half, the Bison moved 74 yards in six plays with Grimard hitting a diving Johnathan Foster in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass. After forcing a three and out on King's next possession, Walker had a 12-yard run and then broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run to extend the margin to 41-0 following a missed extra point.

The scoring was completed early in the fourth quarter. Bethany drove 91 yards in 13 plays and found paydirt for the final time this season when Grimard took off on a 25-yard touchdown run to take the final margin to 48-0. The only question left unanswered was whether Bethany would earn the shutout and BC did not allow the visitors to get into their territory on any of the final three drives.

In pitching their second shutout of the season, the first time since 2001 when BC blanked Shenandoah 17-0 and Westminster 24-0, the Bison limited the Monarchs to only 74 total yards. It was the fewest yards allowed by a Bethany defense since giving up 70 in a 45-3 victory at Gallaudet in Sept., 2001.

The leading tacklers for the Bison were junior LB Kyle Arrington and Joyce with seven each, but the big story defensively was the pass rush, which gathered six sacks. Sophomore LB Tyrell Scott had 1.5, while junior LB Gage Lotozo and freshman DE Greg Roberson had one full sack each. Also getting in on the sack parade were linemen Ryan Busch, Blake DeBord, Nick Greer and Kasib Taalib-Din and safety Jamaan Webb with a half-sack apiece.

On the offensive side, Walker's record-breaking day also included 132 rushing yards and two scores on 21 carries. It was his 13th career 100-yard rushing day and he completed his tenure as a Bison with 41 rushing touchdowns and 47 total TDs, which are also all-time Bethany standards.

He wasn't the only Bethany player to set a new record Saturday. Grimard was 15-of-21 through the air for 216 yards and two TDs while adding in 74 rushing yards and another score. His 290 total yards give him 2,685 for the year, which broke the Bethany single-season record that had stood since 1980 when Jeff Beer accounted for 2,495 yards in the last season the Bison won the PAC championship.

The top receivers in the game included senior Alex Evans, who caught six passes for 75 yards, and Holmes, who hauled in five balls for 82 yards and the touchdown.
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