Junior quarterback Matt Grimard had a hand in three touchdowns and broke two school records and the Bethany College football team used 20 fourth-quarter points to rally for a 26-13 victory at Thiel Saturday.
The game had a tough start for the Bison (2-6, 2-4). After a nice return on the opening kickoff, the Tomcats (2-6, 2-4) needed to drive just 47 yards to hit the end zone, as QB Andrew Smith snuck over from a yard out to give Thiel a 7-0 lead. The Bison offense sputtered in the first quarter, posting just one first down, although BC did reach the Thiel 29 before turning the ball over on downs.
Bethany began moving the ball in the second quarter, but missed opportunities haunted the Green and White. After turning the ball over on downs again after reaching the TC 31, the Bison defense stepped up with an interception by senior safety Simeon Young. His return to the Tomcat 25 put Bethany in business, but Thiel's defense stopped the threat with an interception in the end zone.
The Bison finally got on the board late in the half. The 10-play, 79-yard march culminated in a 14-yard touchdown scamper on a fourth-and-one by Grimard, who completed six passes for 44 yards during the drive. The extra point was no good, but the touchdown, which came with 36 seconds to go in the half, made it a 7-6 Thiel advantage at the break.
Both teams missed chances to put points on the board in the third quarter. Bethany came up short on a fourth-and-four play at Thiel's 19, while the Tomcats reached the BC 22 and also failed to convert on a fourth-and-four situation. A short Bison punt then gave Thiel good field position and they drove into the red zone. But the Bison defense again delivered a turnover, as junior safety Jordan Joyce intercepted a pass at the Bethany 13.
That Thiel miscue turned the tide in the Bison's favor. Following the pick, Grimard and freshman wide receiver Eric Blinn hooked up three times for 56 yards on the ensuing drive. That highlighted the 12-play, 87-yard march, which ended on a five-yard scoring run by Grimard to put Bethany in the lead for good. The two-point conversion attempt failed, so the Bethany lead stood at 12-7 with 14 minutes left in the game.
Bethany forced a quick Thiel punt on its next drive, but the Tomcats then picked off a Grimard aerial. Just two plays later, Joyce snared his second interception of the game and a short return put BC at the Tomcat 43. On the next snap, Grimard tossed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Blinn to extend the Bethany lead to 19-7. Following another Tomcat punt, the Bison turned to the ground game, running five plays to gain 59 yards, with the final blow being an 11-yard scoring jaunt by sophomore Phil Acrie that gave Bethany a comfortable 26-7 margin.
Thiel would put a late TD on the board to make the final score 26-13 for the Bison, who turned in their best defensive performance of the season. The Green and White limited the Tomcats to just 59 yards passing and 283 total yards for the game. Senior linebacker Gage Lotozo turned in a team-high nine tackles, including 2.5 for loss and one sack. Joyce added seven hits to go with his two interceptions and Young also made seven stops and had an INT.
Grimard's day included 26 completions for 293 yards and one touchdown to go along with two rushing scores. He broke Bob Fromm's Bethany records for career completions and passing yards, as Grimard has now connected on 475 passes for 5,912 yards. He adds that to his career total yards record that he broke two weeks ago.
Pacing the BC rushing attack was Acrie with 55 yards on 12 carries. Blinn posted his second straight huge game on the outside with eight receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown. It's the most receiving yards in a game by a BC wideout since Matt Cruse turned in 186 against Thiel in Oct., 2009. Senior WR Johnathan Foster continued his strong play of late with eight more catches, giving him 28 in the last three games.
The Bison will close out the regular season with a pair of home contests. First up is a visit from Thomas More next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Bison Stadium.