BETHANY - Bethany will go out on the road for the final time in 2012, as the Bison journey to Greenville, Pa., Saturday to take on Thiel in a 1 p.m. matchup.
The season continued to be a maddening one for BC last week, as Bethany nearly rallied from a 17-point deficit, only to give up two late scores in a 45-28 loss at Westminster.
Junior quarterback Matt Grimard had a big game, passing for 357 yards and two TDs and rushed for another 78 yards. His 435 total yards was the third-most in a game by a Bethany player. The Bethany defense, despite 12 tackles and an interception from senior linebacker Kyle Arrington, surrendered 396 rushing yards and the team's overall performance continued with a season-long trend, according to Bison coach Tim Weaver.
"We're consistently inconsistent," Weaver said. "It's very frustrating, not just for the coaches, but for the players as well.''
The Bethany defense is hoping to right the ship some this week when they take on a Thiel team ranked last in the conference in scoring (12.9) and total yards (251.4). The Tomcats were off last week and in their last action, lost to Thomas More 28-16.
Thiel trailed by just five with 3:42 to play in that game, but an interception killed their final drive and set up the Saints' clinching score.
Despite their struggles at times this season, Weaver says the unit still has potential problems for the Bison. Junior quarterback Andrew Smith is fourth in the league in passing efficiency and is completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,080 yards this season.
Running back Josh Potter, who has rushed for 147 yards and two TDs, has caught the Bison staff's eye with his skills and tight end Berend Grube is the Tomcats' top receiver with 27 catches for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
"Their offense is very much improved," Weaver said. "The quarterback has really matured, become more accurate and developed into a good player. They do things in the pass game that most won't by throwing curls and out cuts to the field.
"Thiel have a freshman running back they like who has a little explosion and have worked in more reps for him. They also have a big tight end they like to get the ball to and are bigger and more physical up front than Westminster.
Another stiff challenge awaiting the Bison is a Thiel defense that ranks at the top of the conference in yards allowed (281.6) and second in scoring (17.0). Defensive end Tim Taylor, who had 10 tackles and 4.5 sacks in last year's 20-0 Bison victory against the Tomcats, is having another outstanding season with a PAC-high 10.5 sacks and is second with 15 tackles for loss.
But Taylor is not a one-man crew. Linebacker Ethan Ludwig is among the top tacklers in the conference with 69 stops and fellow linebacker Jack Sidlinger is right behind him with 59 tackles. Weaver is also impressed with Taylor's line mates Kris Tursky (20 tackles, seven for loss) and Cody McClelland (4.5 sacks).
"Their defense is as good as anyone whose gone to the playoffs from our league the last three or four years," Weaver said. "The way the schedule has worked out this year in scouting other teams' offense, we've watched Thiel a bunch and they are very, very good. They've dominated every offense this year and the highest point total they've allowed is 28. That was to Thomas More and they had scoring drive of nine and 20 yards and only gained 180 for the game.