October 6, 2012

Bethany Pulls Out 42-36 OT Thriller Over Geneva

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After watching Geneva send the game to overtime with a Hail Mary pass on the final play of regulation, a 24-yard touchdown toss from junior Matt Grimard to senior WR Ed Holmes on their first possession of OT gave the Bethany College football team a 42-36 Homecoming victory Saturday.

The overtime ending was a fitting ending to a wild game that saw two touchdowns scored in the final 18 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Bison (1-4, 1-2) forced a Geneva fumble on the Golden Tornadoes' 34-yard line with 1:36 to play. Nine plays later and facing third down, Grimard ran off the right side into the end zone from five yards away to give BC a 36-29 lead with only 18 ticks on the clock.

The GTs returned the kickoff to its own 35 and two quick completions put them at the Bison 41 with time for one last play. Geneva QB Zack Hayward lofted the Hail Mary pass into the end zone and just over the outstretched hands of the big group of bodies in the middle of the end zone to where Rocco Colavecchia managed to be to catch the improbable 41-yard touchdown pass and the extra point tied the game at 36-36 to send it to overtime.

In the extra session, Geneva had possession first and picked up a first down. Then on second down, Colavecchia threw a pass into the corner of the end zone that Bison sophomore cornerback Wyssmy Despange picked off to end the threat and set up the final heroics. The winning score came on the second play of the Bison drive, as Grimard lobbed a perfect aerial down the right sideline to a streaking Holmes to give Bethany its first ever overtime win after the program lost its only previous three ventures into extra time.

The last score of the game involved the same two who provided the first touchdown of the contest. Grimard began a huge day by connecting with Holmes on a 34-yard scoring pass five minutes into the game and the teams were off and running. The momentum turned when Geneva blocked a Bison field goal and then drove 84 yards for the tying score on a Colavecchia three-yard scoring run. A fumbled snap on a punt on BC's next drive gave the Geneva great field position and they took advantage, driving 14 yards to paydirt on a Hayward one-yard keeper for a 14-7 lead.

Special teams would turn the tide again in the second quarter. Geneva spent much of the day pinned deep in its own territory and with six minutes left before halftime, a bad snap when the GTs were punting from their own end zone resulted in a safety to trim the visitors' lead to 14-9. When Bethany got the ball back, Grimard was 3-for-3 on the ensuing drive for 57 yards, culminating with a 29-yard touchdown strike to junior WR Chris Collins to put the Green and White ahead 16-14.

The margin didn't last long, as two plays after the kickoff Colavecchia broke off a 65-yard touchdown jaunt to lift Geneva back into a 21-16 advantage. Bethany had a chance for points just before halftime. They drove down to the GT's one and went for the touchdown on the final play of the half. But a pass into the end zone was broken up by Jake Delmonico and the score stood at 21-16 Geneva going into the intermission.

A missed field goal on Bethany's second drive prevented them from cutting into the Geneva lead, but they made up for on the next possession. One play after forcing a GT punt, Grimard rifled a 60-yard touchdown pass to freshman WR Eric Blinn, but the missed extra point left it a 22-21 Bison lead. Bethany extended it to 29-21 early in the fourth quarter on a 36-yard scoring dash by sophomore RB Phil Acrie, but Geneva began the late game drama by immediately answering with a scoring drive capped by a Lameul Fuller three-yard TD run and a Hayward two-point conversion run that tied the game with 7:14 to play.

Bethany finished the afternoon with 521 yards of total offense, compared to 376 for Geneva. Grimard's final line included completing 23-of-36 through the air for a career-high 343 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed for one score, although the top ground gainer was Acrie with a career-high 146 yards on 28 totes of the pigskin. Blinn (121 yards, one TD) and Collins (81 yards, one TD) were the top receivers with seven catches apiece.

For Bethany's defense, senior linebacker Kyle Arrington, who at halftime of the game was named Homecoming King, set a new career-high with 17 tackles. That also put him over 300 for his career, as he now has 309 to his credit. In addition to Despgane's pick,  sophomore CB Eddie Chance also had in interception, his second of the year.

The Bison will try to use the momentum from today's win to build for next week's big tilt with PAC-leading Waynesburg. The Yellow Jackets improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference with a 21-14 triumph over Grove City Saturday. Kickoff at Bison Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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