Bethany Hangs On To Snap Long Losing Streak Versus W&J
BETHANY, W.Va. -- Aaron Frye intercepted a pass in the end zone with 29 seconds remaining to end Washington & Jefferson's comeback bid and give Bethany a 24-19 PAC football victory over the Presidents on Saturday night at Bison Stadium.
The win snapped a 30-game losing streak for Bethany (2-3, 2-1 PAC) against W&J (3-2, 2-1 PAC). The Bison, who hadn't defeated the Presidents in West Virginia since 1981, scored all 24 points in the first half, while W&J roared back with all 19 of its points in the final two quarters.
Bethany dominated the first half behind quarterback Matt Grimard. The Bison drove 81 yards on the first possession of the game and Phil Acrie scored on the seventh play of the drive for a 7-0 lead.
Senior punter Eric Eberle (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) pinned BC on its own one-yard line later in the quarter, but the Bison responded with a 10-play, 99-yard drive to claim a 14-0 lead. Grimard completed four passes on the drive, including a 14-yarder to Chris Collins for the touchdown.
W&J fumbled on the first play after the kickoff and Bethany upped its advantage to 17-0 six plays later on Pedro Lalor's 18-yard field goal.
After the Presidents' third punt of the half, the Bison strung together another long drive (86 yards in 7 plays) and Acrie burst through the right side of the defense for a 34-yard touchdown run and a 24-0 lead. BC tried to tack more points before the half ended, but Grimard's desparation heave into the end zone as time expired was picked off.
The second half was a completely different story as W&J began to claw back into the game. The Presidents, who trailed the Bison at halftime in 2011 and 2012 before rallying, used a 48-yard completion from senior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) to junior wide receiver Max Creighan (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) to set up a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) at the 9:16 mark. The drive spanned 93 yards and lasted nine plays.
The W&J defense forced the Bison to turn the ball over on downs and 79 seconds later, the deficit was cut to 24-13 after another Wiegand one-yard scoring jaunt. Wiegand carried five times on the possession for 46 yards, but the extra-point attempt missed wide left.
Senior wide receiver Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Bliss with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap to 24-19, but a two-point conversion pass was unsuccessful.
W&J got the ball back twice in the final 2:03, but could not complete the comeback. On the final possession, a Baroffio 28-yard catch set the Presidents up at the 15-yard line. However, two plays later Frye jumped in front of a Bliss fade pass to the right corner of the end zone and the Bison escaped.
Bethany held possession of the ball for over 41 minutes (41:06-18:54) and outgained W&J 563-439. Grimard passed for 335 yards and rushed for 89, while Acrie piled up 126 yards on the ground and caught five passes for 74 yards.
Wiegand gained a career-high 182 yards rushing and increased his season rushing touchdown total to 12. He added three receiving yards and 39 on kickoff returns to finish with 224 all-purpose yards. Baroffio caught nine passes for 114 yards, while Creighan totaled 83 receiving yards.
Bliss, who played for the first time since the first half of the Grove City game two weeks ago, completed 21-of-47 passes for 273 yards. He was sacked four times. Defensively, junior linebacker Jared Pratt (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) had a game-high 15 tackles, while sophomores safety Anthony Tutino (Stahlstown, Pa./Ligonier) and defensive end Jon Turner (Freeport, Pa./Freeport) notched 12 and 10, respectively. Turner grabbed 2.5 stops for a loss, including a sack.
The Presidents will have to regroup quickly as the undefeated Thomas More Saints (4-0) come to Cameron Stadium next Saturday night (7:00 pm). 24th-ranked Thomas More has shut out its opponent three times already this season.