BETHANY - Coming off its second straight setback by four points or less, the Bethany ootball team will try to make it a happy Homecoming when it plays host to 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 Presidents' Athletic Conference with a 28-26, heart-breaking loss at Washington & Jefferson. It was the closest game between the rivals since a 14-12 Bethany victory 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 QB Matt Grimard to freshman Eric Blinn with 54 seconds to play, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed and W&J managed to hang on for a victory.
Grimard finished 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 Coach Tim Weaver.
''Last week is hard to talk about,'' Weaver said. ''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 was the play of sophomore running back Phil Acrie, a Linsly product. 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,'' Weaver said. ''He showed it last year, but got hurt two or three separate times and was never able to compete for the backup 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.''
The Bison may need to focus on the field position battle 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 victory 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 5-yard TD run in the final extra period.
Geneva will use two quarterbacks in the game 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 No. 18 Hobart. Although it won't be easy, Weaver is hoping his team can replicate the success Thiel and Hobart found.