Late Field Goal Sinks Bison in 23-21 loss to Waynesburg

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The Bethany College football team led undefeated Waynesburg until the very end when a 26-yard field with 16 seconds to play lifted the Yellow Jackets to a 23-21 triumph over the Bison Saturday afternoon at Bison Stadium.

The two-point loss, which dropped Bethany to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the PAC, means BC has dropped its three conference games by a combined eight points. Waynesburg improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the league, with its last four PAC wins coming by a total of 14 points.

The first drive of the game saw Waynesburg drive down into Bethany territory, only to see a fumble stop the march. The Bison then drove deep into Yellow Jacket territory and when the drive stalled out, freshman kicker Justin Evans cashed in a 25-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead BC would take into the second quarter.

The second quarter featured two long Bison drives sandwiched around one quick one for the Yellow Jackets. Bethany moved 85 yards in 13 plays and took 7:17 off the clock to post its next score. Facing a third-and-six, junior QB Matt Grimard, who set a new Bethany record in the contest, lofted a pass to the right corner of the end zone. A Waynesburg defender deflected it, but senior wide receiver Ed Holmes was able to reel in a juggling catch for the 11-yard touchdown catch. The extra point was blocked, leaving it a 9-0 Bethany lead.

On the fourth play after taking possession, the Yellow Jackets' Bertrand Ngampa broke through for a 53- yard touchdown run to trim the Bethany lead to 9-7. When BC took over, they used nearly every remaining second to find the end zone again. The Bison drove into Waynesburg territory and on third-and-four, Grimard hit Holmes for a 21-yard strike down the WU one. With the clock under 10 seconds and no timeouts, Grimard hurried the offense to the line and bulled into the end zone for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked again, leaving Bethany to take a 15-7 lead into halftime.

Bethany would add to their lead on the first drive of the second half. This march covered 65 yards in nine plays, but the ending was not a foregone conclusion. The Bison faced a fourth-and-seven at the 25 and Grimard lobbed a pass towards the left side of the end zone. Holmes made a spectacular catch for the score, snaring the pass with one hand while just staying in bounds long enough to get credit for the grab. Bethany went for two and the pass was incomplete, which mean it was still a two-score game at 21-7.

When Waynesburg got the ball back, it turned to its top-ranked rushing offense in the PAC. The unit churned out all 61 yards on the ensuing drive, which ended with a two-yard scoring run by Dominic Moore, to bring the visitors within one TD at 21-14. Then early in the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets started by midfield and quickly moved into Bethany territory. Ngampa found the end zone for a second time on a 14-yard scoring jaunt, but this time, it was the Bison who came up with a blocked extra point. Sophomore CB Wyssmy Despagne came off the edge to swat away the kick and Bethany held the slimmest of leads at 21-20.

Both teams would miss scoring chances on their next drive, as Bethany drove to the Waynesburg 30, but turned it over on downs. That was answered by the Yellow Jackets moving down in position for a potential go-ahead field goal, but the 36-yard try by Dominic Zappa was wide left with 3:33 to go. Bethany was able to pick up one first down, but needing one more to run out the clock after Waynesburg burned its final timeout, the Bison were unable to get 10 yards and punted back to the Yellow Jackets with 1:45 to play.

After an incomplete pass on first down, Waynesburg went to Ngampa, who shook free for runs of 15 and 35 yards to immediately put the visitors in field goal range. After one run and two shots to the end zone, Waynesburg sent out Alex Henry, who split the uprights with a 26-yard boot to put the Jackets ahead 23-21 with 16 ticks on the clock. Bethany's last ditch effort came up short and Waynesburg escaped with the hard-fought win.

A pair of Bison players reached milestones in the setback. Grimard threw for 261 yards and two scores while rushing for another 39, which gives him 6,857 yards of total offense break the Bethany record held by Bob Fromm, who had 6,700 from 1994-97. Grimard's top target in terms of receptions was senior Johnathan Foster, who caught 10 balls for 70 yards and he became the ninth player in Bethany history to surpass 100 career receptions (105).

The other big receiver was Holmes, who snared eight aerials for 121 yards and two touchdowns, his third game this season with a pair of TD catches. He has now moved up to fourth all-time at Bethany with 128 receptions and sixth with 1,527 career receiving yards.

On the defensive side, senior linebacker Kyle Arrington posted 14 tackles, his second straight double-digit performance. It also gives him 323 for his career for the second highest total by a Bison since 1989. Also reaching double figures were junior safety Jordan Joyce and sophomore linebacker Chris Burg with 11 hits apiece.

The Bison will go out on the road two straight, beginning next Saturday with a road tilt at Westminster. The Titans are also 1-3 in the league and 2-3 overall after a 24-21 defeat at Washington & Jefferson Saturday. Kickoff in New Wilmington is scheduled for 1 p.m.