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Bethany vs. Geneva Preview

More news about: Bethany

Coming off its closest loss of the year and second straight setback by four points or less, the Bethany College football team will try to make it a happy Homecoming when it hosts Geneva at Bison Stadium in a 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday.

The Bison saw their record dip to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the PAC with a 28-26 heart-breaking loss at Washington & Jefferson. It was the closest game between the long-time rivals since a 14-12 BC win in 1961. Bethany raced out to a 20-7 halftime lead, only to see the Presidents score three straight touchdowns in the second half. The Bison moved within two points on a 21-yard touchdown pass from junior QB Matt Grimard to freshman WR Eric Blinn with 54 seconds to play, but the two-point conversion attempt failed and W&J managed to hang on for the victory.

Grimard finished the night with 234 passing yards and two touchdowns, while the Bison defense was paced by senior linebacker Kyle Arrington with 12 tackles, but the loss was a tough one to take for the Bison program and head coach Tim Weaver.

"Last week is hard to talk about," said Weaver. "We played some of the best football we have in our time here in all three phases. The players gave a great effort and executed at a high level. I thought the coordinators came up with a great game plan. We came up one play short. We have to figure out how to make that one play at the end, whether it's a creative call by a coach, one extra step by a player or a unit stepping up to make a play happen."

Another highlight to the game was the play of sophomore running back Phil Acrie. He carried 18 times for a career-high 94 yards and scored on a 19-yard touchdown gallop in the first half, while also pulling in two receptions for 30 yards. The running back position was a question mark coming into the year due to the inexperience of those returning, but with Acrie, who has rushed for 210 yards and two TDs in four games, and sophomore Brandon Hill, who has earned 12 carries, Weaver says the Bison are pleased with their depth.

"We thought when we recruited Phil, we were getting a special talent," said Weaver. "He showed it last year, but got hurt two or three separate times and was never able to compete for the back-up job because of his health. He had a good spring and then came into camp and got hurt again. But now he's healthy, showing his ability and we think he has a chance to be an all-conference back.

"Brandon has also really developed," said Weaver. "We knew he was really fast. We weren't sure what kind of football player we were getting, but now we feel real good about him too. Brandon is a good blocker, which is a place Phil can improve, and both can catch it. We really like our running back situation going forward."

Bethany also enjoyed a big week from freshman kicker Justin Evans. In addition to drilling field goals of 29 and 39 yards to help propel BC to its halftime lead, five of his six kickoffs went inside the W&J 10-yard line, with the lone exception being an onside attempt at the end. With Evans' work so far, that has freed up sophomore Stephen Amic, who handled both kicking jobs last fall, to just focus on punting and he was excellent on Saturday too, averaging 42.3 yards on five punts with a long of 63. Having those kinds of weapons on special teams is a big help in game planning for the Bison.

"It changes a ton of stuff," said Weaver. "When you feel really good about kickoffs going inside the five-yard line and the other teams' average starting field position is inside the 35, it makes them much easier to defend. I think it raises the whole teams' confidence when you get inside the red zone and knowing if we stall out, we're still going to get three points. Then the offense can just play and not force things, which I think is why we've been so effective at scoring touchdowns inside the red zone because not every play is do-or-die.

"And a hidden benefit to Justin's development is that it's allowed Stephen to relax," said Weaver. "Now he can just focus on punting and as he showed Saturday, he can be one of the best punters in the conference. Now we have two really good specialists who can help us in field position and the red zone."

The Bison may need to focus on the field position battle on Saturday against a Geneva team (1-3, 1-1) that ranks first in the PAC in scoring (31.0) and total offense (433.5). The Golden Tornadoes picked up their first win of the season last Saturday by surprising Thomas More 50-48 in a four-overtime thriller. Quarterback Rocco Colavecchia, who is this week's PAC Offensive Player of the Week, scored two touchdowns in the final 2:30 of regulation to tie the game and then scored twice more in OT, including the game-winning five-yard TD run in the final extra period.

Geneva will use two quarterbacks in the game Saturday and can employ two completely different looks. Colavecchia is the stronger runner of the two, as he's rushed for 268 yards and six touchdowns, but Zack Hayward is leading the PAC with 266 passing yards per game, as well as nine touchdowns. It's been an inconsistent season for the GTs offensively, as they scored 50 against Thomas More and 53 in a loss to Frostburg State, but were held to 14 in an OT defeat at Thiel and seven in a loss at #18 Hobart. Although it won't be easy, Weaver is hoping his team can replicate the success Thiel and Hobart found.           

"Well, you have to give Hobart and Thiel credit because they are very good on defense," said Weaver. "But Geneva is similar to Grove City in that they have two offensive philosophies they can use in a game. And when they get in a groove with one of them, they can be hard to stop. Last week against Thomas More, they spread it out and by the end, they were throwing it and catching it and when they did sneak a run in, it went for big yards.

"For us this week, we need to keep it simple as we can," said Weaver. "We need to have a good handle on what to expect when they spread it out and on their misdirections when they go with bigger sets."

The Geneva defense has been similar to the offense. Frostburg rang up 56 points in a season-opening win and Thomas More was able to post 48, but the GTs were solid in the 21-14 loss to Thiel, with the winning touchdown coming on a busted field goal attempt, and the 28-7 defeat to Hobart. Linebacker Dillon Goodell is the PAC leader with 43 tackles in four games, including five for loss, and safety Brett Hutira is tied for second with 39 stops.

"Geneva is committed to what they do on defense," said Weaver. "They know it, understand it and execute it. They take a lot of things away on their alignment. We'll have to make plays in the passing game to try to loosen them up. Then we can establish some balance, get the ball in Phil's hands and let Matt run a few."

Saturday marks the midway point of the season and a disappointing start can begin to get turned around if the Bison can pick up a victory in front of a Homecoming crowd. But for that to happen, Weaver says they must focus on things like not turning the ball over and not worrying about their record or the score and just take care of their assignments.

"First key for Saturday is win the turnover battle," said Weaver. "We also need to be the better team on third down. Not only convert them on offense, but stop them to get them off the field and keep their offense off the field. And the team needs to make sure we don't press. We've done a good job with that so far.

"There is a difference between our 0-4 and other 0-4 teams who are getting blown out every week and there is no hope," said Weaver. "We've had a chance to win every game in the fourth quarter. It's frustrating we haven't, but it shows we are a good football team. We've been telling the team to not focus on the score, but focus on the little things needed to win and the score will take care of itself."
Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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at Dean 25, Becker 10
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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at Albright 9, Widener 7
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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at Western New England 21, Husson 14
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
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at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
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at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
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at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
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at Eureka 44, Crown 20
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at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
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at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
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at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
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at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
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at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
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at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
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at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
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at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
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at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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at Berry 28, Centre 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
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at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 28: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Shenandoah at Randolph-Macon
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Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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