GREENVILLE, Pa. – In one of the highest-scoring games in Thiel College history, the Thiel Tomcats defeated the Bethany Bison 57-47 Saturday at Alumni Stadium in the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) opener for both teams.
The two conference foes combined for 1,115 yards of offense Saturday and 51 first downs. The Tomcats, who never trailed, made splash plays in all three phases of the game to earn the win. They also won the turnover battle, 3-1.
One of the Tomcats' splash plays came early in the fourth quarter when LaRonald Smith broke through the line, blocked a Bethany punt and scored a touchdown on a 25-yard return to give the Tomcats a 43-21 lead.
The Bison refused to give in, however. Quarterback Chase Kinemond threw touchdown passes of 42 and 45 yards to Dustin Hess and Tyler Ambush, respectively, less than three minutes apart to cut the Tomcats' lead down to 10 points (43-33).
Tomcat quarterback Ryan Radke responded with a 64-yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive, but Kinemond went on to throw a touchdown pass and run for another touchdown late in the fourth quarter to get the Bison within a field goal (50-47).
Radke went on to ice the game for the Tomcats on the ensuing drive when he scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, this one a 37-yarder with just 1:16 remaining in regulation.
Radke connected with Jaquan Hicks for the opening touchdown of the game, a 72-yarder on Thiel's first possession. After the Bison knotted the score 7-7, cornerback Richard Proper put the Tomcats back on top, 14-7, on a 29-yard pick-six down the near sideline. Radke tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Eugene Bailey with 6:14 left in the second quarter to increase Thiel's lead to 20-7.
Chase Kinemond scored on an eight-yard run late in the second quarter, but Tomcat Chris Rosales drilled a 24-yard field goal from the left hash to send the his team to the locker room with a 23-14 lead.
The two teams exchanged touchdowns midway through the third. Bailey scored on a six-yard pass from Radke while Kinemond scored on a one-yard run. With the Bison driving late in the third quarter for a potential game-tying score, Thiel's defense stepped up. In a fourth-and-two situation from the Thiel 15-yard line, Bison running back Raekwon Wright fumbled on a hit by nose tackle Joe Krimm. Safety Randy Groves scooped up the ball and ran 84 yards to the house to give the Tomcats a 36-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Radke completed 15-of-29 passes for 263 yards. He threw three touchdown passes and his first interception of the season. He also ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 11 totes. Nick Barca added 71 yards on 22 carries.
Hicks led the Tomcats with 113 receiving yards on four catches, one of which was a 72-yard touchdown catch. Bailey caught five passes, two of which were touchdown grabs, for 70 yards.
Kinemond completed 39-of-50 passes for 417 yards. He threw three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. Tyler Ambush was Kindemond's favorite target. He caught 18 passes for 171 yards and scored one touchdown.
Jake Elk, Tyron Bynum and Trey Andrews led the Tomcats with eight tackles apiece. Proper intercepted two passes, one of which he returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
Donovan Hayden racked up a game-best 17 tackles for the Bison while Daulton Freeman made seven tackles and intercepted a pass. Defensive end Khalid Pierce made five tackles and recorded four quarterback hurries.
Thiel's 57 points were the most since they earned a 62-14 win over the Saint Vincent Bearcats on Nov. 10, 2007.
The Tomcats (2-1, 1-0 PAC) will travel Saturday to Beaver Falls, Pa., to face the Geneva Golden Tornadoes. Kickoff for the PAC contest is scheduled for 3 p.m.