BETHANY - In a game that saw 35 fourth-quarter points, Bethany was defeated, 30-28, by Thiel College on Saturday afternoon.
Despite 305 yards passing and three touchdowns by Matt Grimard, the Bison (3-5 overall, 3-3 PAC) were unable to hold off a strong second half by Thiel, which racked up 312 yards rushing.
The first half saw two scores, as each team found the end zone. The Tomcats struck first on their first drive, going 95 yards on seven plays. The biggest play came on a fourth-and-8 from the Bethany 48. Thiel decided to kick the ball away, but a roughing the kicker penalty set the Tomcats up with a first down on the Bethany 33. On the next play, Josh Wannamaker ran 33 yards for a touchdown.
The Bison offense was unable to get anything going in the first quarter as the team ran just 12 plays, going three-and-out on four separate drives in the frame.
At the end of the first quarter, a punt by Stephen Amic pinned the Tomcats back at their 3, and the Bison defense held Thiel to a three-and-out to set up fine field position for the Bison offense.
Bethany was able to take advantage swing as it needed five plays to answer the call with a 20-yard touchdown strike from Grimard to Jaylen Jennings. The extra-point attempt was no good and the Bison remained behind, 7-6.
The Bison held Thiel to 135 yards in the first half, including 38 yards in the second quarter. However, the Bison offense was also held in check, notching just 16 yards in the first quarer and 134 in the half.
Thiel scored first in the second half. After another booming punt by Amic trapped the Tomcats at their 1, an 84-yard pass from Ryan Radke to Matt Fedzen set up Thiel with a first down at the Bethany 14. However, the Bison defense was able to hold strong and kept the Tomcats to a field goal, which was made, to put Thiel up 10-6.
After the Bison went three-and-out, Amic put another punt inside the Thiel 10, and the Tomcats took over deep in their own territory. On the next play, a bad snap had the ball on the ground, which was pounced on by Bethany's Josh Moody. Three plays later, Grimard scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give Bethany its first lead, 13-10.
Thiel answered in the fourth quarter, going on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard TD run by Radke to make the score, 17-13. The Bison looked as though they would respond, as Grimard found Eric Blinn on a 41-yard hookup the had Bethany on the Thiel 27. However, the Bison then turned the ball over on downs with Grimard being sacked by RJ Malson on fourth down. The Tomcats scored again, this time on a 17-yard scamper by Radke to go up 24-10.
With 1:49 remaining in the game, the Bison weren't done yet. Grimard marched Bethany down the field as the team went 55 yards in just 46 seconds, finishing on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Ambush (Germantown, Md./Northwest). The two-point conversion was no good and Bethany found itself down 24-19 with 1:03 remaining.
After an onside kick was recovered by Thiel, the Tomcats tacked on another score on their first play from scrimmage. Josh Wannamaker ran straight up the middle 45 yards for a TD. The extra point was then blocked by Eric Campbell and recovered by Wyssmy Despagne, who took the ball the length of the field for the defensive PAT. After the dust settled on that play, the Bison faced a 30-21 deficit.
Grimard, doing his best to keep his team in the game in his final contest at Bison Stadium, kept hopes alive. With 51 seconds remaining, Grimard used four plays and 29 seconds to take Bethany into the end zone once again. The scoring play was a 26-yard pass to Jennings, which made the advantage, 30-28 in favor of Thiel.
The comeback was not completed, however, as the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Tomcats and the Bison fell by less than a field goal for the second straight week, 30-28.
Despite the loss, another Bethany offensive record fell in the game, as Blinn made 12 catches in the contest to give him 74 on the year, breaking the Bethany single-season mark of 72 set by Jonathan Foster a year ago. Blinn finished the day with 12 receptions for 140 yards. Jennings also had a big day, catching two touchdown passes for the second time this season (also had two TD receptions on Sept. 14 at Geneva).
Grimard finished with four total touchdowns, passing for three and running for one more. He also totaled 57 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Nick Greer led the team with 7.5 tackles while Khallid Pierce, Dion Williams and Campbell finished with five. Moody and Chris Burg were each credited with a fumble recovery.