September 22, 2012

Fourth Quarter Rally Gives Grove City 44-40 Win over Bethany

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The Bethany College football team took a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter Saturday at Grove City, but the Wolverines scored 20 unanswered point to come all the way back for a 44-40 victory over the Bison.

For the third time in three games, the Bison (0-3, 0-1) took the opening kickoff and scored the first points of the game. A 12-play, 68-yard drive was capped off by a two-yard scoring pass to senior WR Johnathan Foster from junior QB Matt Grimard. It was the start of a big first quarter for the Bison, who late in the period recovered a fumble on the Grove City nine and went ahead 14-0 when Grimard toted the pigskin into the end zone from four yards out.

The lead grew to 21-0 one minute into the second quarter when Grimard fired a 40-yard scoring pass to senior WR Ed Holmes. But as quickly as Bethany built the lead, the Wolverines battled back into the game. They answered the Holmes score with a seven-play, 69-yard drive, which ended on a Brian Pell-to-Tony Britt 45-yard scoring pass. The extra point was missed, leaving it a 21-6 score.

Three turnovers in a span of six plays was the key to the GCC second-quarter rally. The second of those miscues was a fumble that Grove City recovered on the Bison five and two plays later, Shane Kaclik scored on a three-yard run to make it 21-12. Two plays into their next possession, Grimard was picked off and a few snaps later, Kaclik broke off a 41-yard scoring jaunt to slice the BC lead to 21-18.

Bethany would put the final points on the board in the first half. Taking over with 54 seconds left, Grimard went 6-for-6 for 48 yards to drive BC into field goal position and freshman kicker Justin Evans split the uprights with a 33-yard field goal for a 24-16 Green and White margin going into halftime. It's the longest field goal by a Bison booter since Evan Plescia made a 34-yard kick at Thiel in Oct., 2008.

A steady dose of Kaclik is how Grove City opened the second half, as he touched the ball on nine of 11 plays and gained 39 yards, including the final yard on fourth-and-goal for the score that made it 24-24. The Wolverines' extra point woes continued however, as the kick was blocked and returned for a defensive PAT by sophomore DB Eddie Chance, who also had an interception in the game, and Bethany was back on top 26-24.

That play was a big momentum shift, as the Bison's next possession was a 73-yard scoring drive, with the touchdown coming on a 41-yard scoring strike from Grimard to freshman WR Eric Blinn. After forcing a three-and-out, BC needed just three plays to move 57 yards for its next touchdown. Grimard rifled his fourth scoring pass of the day, this one a 19-yard hook-up with Holmes, and the Green and White took a 40-24 advantage into the fourth period.

The Wolverines' comeback started with a 14-play, 79-yard march that ended with Kaclik scoring from a yard out again, but the two-point attempt was no good and the spread was 40-30. After the Bison were forced to punt, three pass interference penalties against Bethany sparked the next Grove City drive. A Pell sneak from one yard away brought the home team within three at 40-37.

The turnover bug bit BC again on the next drive, as an interception gave Grove City possession at the Bison 37. Six plays later, Kaclik scored from a yard away, his fifth touchdown of the game, and the extra point lifted the Wolverines to a 44-40 lead. Bethany was forced to punt on its next possession and Grove City converted a key fourth down, which allowed them to run out the clock and claim the victory.

Bethany finished the game with a 346-318 advantage in total yards, but the four turnovers were the crucial blow to the Bison hopes. Grimard completed 25-of-33 for 289 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. His top receiver was Holmes, who set a career-high with nine receptions that went for 98 yards and a pair of scores.

Senior linebacker Kyle Arrington led the defense with eight tackles, a half-sack and one fumble recovery.

The Bison will complete a three-game road swing next Saturday with a 7 p.m. kickoff at Washington & Jefferson.
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