Bison Hope to Reignite Offense Against Grove City

BY: DANIEL SEAMAN

 

BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany Bison football team is currently 5-3 this season after accumulating two consecutive losses. The Bison will look to end their two game losing streak against Grove City College this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. after suffering loses against PAC rivals W&J and Geneva. After a strong start to the season, and what seemed to be a guaranteed spot in the PAC playoffs, the Bison must win-out to maintain a spot in the postseason with hopes of also qualifying for the ECAC tournament.

The game against rival Washington and Jefferson was dominated by running back Ryan Ruffing. The running back continued his great statistical season by running all over the Bison defense. He rushed thirty-seven times for 171 yards and one touchdown on the day. More importantly, he helped Washington and Jefferson control the tempo and clock of by averaging 4.2 yards per carry. For the Bison, the offense struggled the entire game. Running backs Jalen Holmes and Brandon Hill struggled to find holes in the W&J defense. Both backs touched the ball eleven and twelve times respectively for thirty-nine and forty yards. Both running backs could not score a touchdown for the Bison.

Entering the game, it was expected that both quarterbacks would exchange touchdowns, however, only one would lead his offense to success.  Washington & Jefferson quarterback, Pete Coughlin easily won the quarterback battle. He completed nineteen of twenty-six passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw one interception early in the game. Overall, Coughlin managed the game very well for W&J and kept the Bison defense at bay. The sophomore quarterback of the Bison, Brian Vales, took a big step backwards in his development this season. He finished the game twenty-one of thirty-nine passing for 142 yards and no touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions that killed the Bison’s offensive drives and ultimately sealed the game for the W&J Presidents.

Despite the struggling offense, the defense of the Bison played well and was led by Donovan Hayden who recorded seventeen tackles in the game, four of which were tackles for a loss. He also recorded half a sack as well. Sophomore, Matt Conover continued his assault on opposing running backs. He finished with ten tackles with four tackles for a loss. All of those tackles for a loss occurred on third down for the Bison. He also recorded half a sack. In all, the offensive struggles for the Bison resulted in a final score of W&J: 34, Bethany: 7.

After the crushing defeat to Washington and Jefferson, the Bison traveled to Beaver Falls, Pa. to play the Geneva College Golden Tornadoes.  In the game, the offensive struggles continued to plague the Bison. The leading rusher for the Bison was quarterback, Brian Vales who finished with twelve rushing attempts for sixty-one yards and no touchdowns. Similar to Washington and Jefferson, Geneva controlled the game and the clock with their rushing attack. Running back Dylan Jones had twenty-three attempts for 102 yards and one touchdown on the day. His strong performance in the running game gassed the tired Bison defense as he averaged 3.7 yards per attempt.

The major offensive issue for the Bison against Geneva was the growing pains of sophomore quarterback, Brian Vales. He completed twenty-four of forty-seven passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly he threw five costly interceptions that allowed Geneva to control the game. Geneva’s quarterback, Aaron Channing did not have a very successful game against the strong Bison defense only completing fourteen of thirty-one passes for 104 yards and no touchdowns. To add to the quarterbacks woes, he threw an interception that could have turned the game in favor of the Bison had it not been for the play of the Tornadoes defense.

Both respective quarterbacks struggled during the game; however, their wide receivers on the other hand had pretty solid performances. Bison receiver, Eric Blinn recorded nine catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Another wide receiver that did well for the Bison was sophomore, Tyler Ambush who recorded six catches for 115 yards. Geneva’s leading receiver was Lemuel Fuller who recorded six catches for forty-four yards and zero touchdowns.

The Bison defense for the second week in a row was led by linebacker Donovan Hayden. He recorded ten tackles and three tackles for a loss. Nadim Raddar also had a pretty solid performance. He recorded nine tackles and two tackles for a loss. He also recovered a fumble and sacked the quarterback. The offensive struggles by Vales continued and the Bison could never control the game and ended up losing to Geneva, 20-14.

It will take a unified group effort from the Bison to end their losing streak this Saturday against Grove City College. The Bison will need to get back on track and develop a game plan that will allow the offense to produce at the level that its caliber should be. Second, the Bison will need to fix the turnover problem that has proved to be costly in recent games. The offense must work on keeping the ball in their possession and manage the game clock. All eyes will be on quarterback Brian Vales and his ability to distribute the football ultimately putting his team in a position to score each possession. 

 

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