/seasons/2011/contrib/20110915hjg9rp

Bethany vs. W&J Preview

More news about: Bethany

After getting an unscheduled week off last Saturday, the Bethany College football team will return to the field with a stiff test Saturday when Washington & Jefferson invades Bison Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff in the league opener for both squads.

The Bison opened the season with a 28-7 victory at Allegheny Sept. 3 and were slated to take on King's last Saturday in the home opener. However, due to flooding and a mandatory evacuation of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which shut down their school, King's was unable to make the trip out and the game was postponed. The possibility remains that the teams will make up the game Nov. 19th if neither Bethany nor King's makes the postseason, but that is little consolation to ease the disappointment of having a final tune-up for conference play eliminated.

"Not getting to play last week was disappointing in a whole bunch of ways," said Bison head coach Tim Weaver. "Any time you miss a chance to play it's tough because you only get 10 a year and it's not like you can just reschedule it up on Tuesday. We also really felt like playing a second game and getting to put kids in game situations one more time would be very beneficial heading into conference play.

"And strictly from a football lifer standpoint, we are creatures of habit and our whole routine was smashed," said Weaver. "But I was very happy with and proud of our players for how they handled it. We went full pads for practice Friday, which we never do, and full pads on Sunday, which we never do. Our guys didn't get pouty, got their focus back quickly and we went back to work."

There were upsides to having the weekend off according to Weaver, including being as close to 100 percent healthy as a team can be a couple weeks into the season and getting in some extra work in studying this week's opponent.

"Obviously we were able to control our injury situation, so we will be healthy," said Weaver. "We also gave everyone off all day Saturday and anytime you can give the guys a chance to clear their head and act like college kids, it can be a good thing because you don't get to do that often during the grind of the season. And from a coaching standpoint, we had all day Friday to watch W&J on film and were able to steal a couple extra days prep-wise, so there were positives."

The extra preparation couldn't have come at a better time for Bethany than leading up to W&J. The longest running series in the PAC has been controlled by the Presidents lately, as they hold a 68-20 advantage all-time against the Bison and have claimed 28 straight decisions. Unfortunately for BC, many of the contests have been decided early, as W&J has scored an average of 40 points in the first half in the last three games.

That story was true in last year's game, as the Presidents bolted out to a 45-0 halftime lead and went on to a 59-21 triumph at home. Quarterback Matt Grimard (Lowell, Mass./Dracut) rushed for 129 yards and one TD and threw for 140 yards and another score, but also threw two interceptions and W&J gained 497 yards of total offense in the victory.

As Weaver and his staff have rebuilt the Bison, they have torn down many walls that impeded the progress of the program. The losing streak to W&J is one that remains standing and Weaver says his team is moving past the psychological impact the streak has had.

"That has been our challenge and we addressed it briefly on Sunday and moved the focus to ourselves and what we need to do," said Weaver. "One key for us is we have a more experienced roster and we know that none of the previous games have any impact on this one. I do hope that every kid who puts the pads on Saturday night wants to be on the team that ends the streak.

"When you look at last year, we beat Waynesburg and they took W&J to overtime, so there is no reason for W&J to be up on us 45-0 at halftime," said Weaver. "But now after Sunday, our focus is on the 2011 W&J team, their personnel and this team."

The 2011 W&J team brings a 1-1 record into Saturday's affair. After opening the year with a 40-0 victory at Juniata, the Presidents suffered a 20-19 defeat to #25 Delaware Valley Saturday. Making his second career start, junior QB Matt Bliss threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with his top target being Adam Dominick, who hauled in seven aerials for 105 yards. However, the W&J offense was hurt by three turnovers, six sacks and a 0-for-12 conversion rate on third downs. The team also suffered a missed extra point and a pair of missed field goals from 31 and 21 yards.

The Presidents' miscues Saturday were a combination of Delaware Valley's efforts and unforced errors, but Weaver doesn't expect the same fortunes this week unless Bethany can create big plays.

"Saturday was a great learning lesson that no team is good enough to overcome turnovers and missed extra points, things you take for granted," said Weaver. "(W&J's) last interception was the only real unforced error though, so Del Valley had a lot to say about what happened with the other ones. Del Valley did a great job pressuring Bliss and it's tough for any young quarterback if they can't get comfortable in the pocket. But W&J has a great coaching staff and they know how to bounce back."

The Presidents' defense has been strong the first two weeks. They held Juniata to a paltry 68 yards of total offense in week one and although Del Valley totaled 375 yards last Saturday, W&J did have six sacks and forced a trio of turnovers. Through the first two weeks, the Presidents have allowed teams to convert just 17 percent (5-29) of third down chances.

Linebacker Neil Sorice is a key man for the Bison to contend with Saturday. He was named PAC Defensive Player of the Week after amassing 17 tackles, the most by a President since 2003, one sack and one forced fumble. His 25 stops for the year are the most in the league and far ahead of W&J cornerback Nathan Melhorn (15) and safety Matthew Gal (13) for the team lead. Weaver says moving the ball against a good fundamental unit like the Presidents will be a challenge.

"Schematically, they are not the same but they are similar to Allegheny in they are well-coached and they don't beat themselves often, so you must execute," said Weaver. "They tackle very well, understand their coverage schemes and have a strong, aggressive front group. They don't need to rely on blitzes to generate pressure, but when they bring people, it is very effective. And watching them last week, Sorice had one of the best games by a PAC linebacker I've seen since we've been here."

If the Bison are going to start out 2-0 and win an opening game in PAC play for the first time since 2001, Weaver says the game obviously can't follow a similar script as previous W&J match-ups and the team must execute both offensively and defensively on the most important down.

"Very simply, if we want to win Saturday, it has to be a game at the end of the first quarter, which we haven't been able to say the last few games with them," said Weaver. "We also have to find ways to make enough plays on third down on defense to get them off the field and in the passing game on offense to maintain possession."
Sep. 16: All times Eastern
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at Worcester State 42, Fitchburg State 26
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at Ursinus 35, Juniata 28
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Salve Regina 27, at Dean 0
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at Johns Hopkins 37, Moravian 7
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Massachusetts Maritime 34, at Maine Maritime 25
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Wesley 33, at TCNJ 0
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at RPI 31, Western New England 14
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Buffalo State 53, at Morrisville State 48
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at Rochester 14, Alfred State 7
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Stevenson 52, at FDU-Florham 14
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Union 31, at Gallaudet 21
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at Williams 28, Bowdoin 14
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Sewanee 29, at Austin 17
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at Middlebury 30, Wesleyan 27
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at Tufts 35, Hamilton 28
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Salisbury 21, at Kean 13
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at Olivet 37, Aurora 21
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at Amherst 41, Bates 17
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at Trinity (Conn.) 35, Colby 0
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at Franklin and Marshall 43, McDaniel 41
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Montclair State 24, at Southern Virginia 0
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Rowan 41, at William Paterson 14
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Springfield 66, at Mount Ida 20
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UW-Platteville 38, at Hampden-Sydney 29
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DePauw 55, at Hiram 28
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at Alma 45, Benedictine 40
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at Trine 55, Wisconsin Lutheran 7
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at Albion 79, Concordia (Wis.) 7
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Dickinson 24, at Gettysburg 21
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at Wooster 38, Ohio Wesleyan 20
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Thiel 28, at Bethany 13
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LaGrange 39, at Methodist 30
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at Wabash 62, Kenyon 7
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King's 44, at Lebanon Valley 39
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at Martin Luther 42, Iowa Wesleyan 20
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at MIT 31, Endicott 26
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at Alfred 24, Utica 17
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Maryville (Tenn.) 56, at Emory and Henry 46
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Averett 19, at Ferrum 7
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at Catholic 25, Randolph-Macon 20
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Susquehanna 14, at Muhlenberg 11
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at Cortland 31, Hartwick 30
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Brevard 63, at Greensboro 7
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Ithaca 24, at St. Lawrence 13
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at St. Scholastica 48, Westminster (Mo.) 18
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MacMurray 48, at Crown 34
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at Greenville 21, Northwestern (Minn.) 15
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Eureka 48, at Minnesota-Morris 20
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UW-Whitewater 40, at Washington U. 21
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at Widener 34, Misericordia 21
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at Coast Guard 13, Nichols 0
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at Hope 37, Lakeland 35
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Heidelberg 40, at Ohio Northern 21
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Carnegie Mellon 30, at Waynesburg 20
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Mount Union 69, at Marietta 3
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at Centre 52, Hendrix 42
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Albright 21, at Lycoming 17
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Bluffton 32, at Mount St. Joseph 31
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at Franklin 42, Defiance 12
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at Anderson 27, Earlham 16
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SUNY-Maritime 38, at Merchant Marine 31
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Concordia-Chicago 41, at Kalamazoo 29
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at Rose-Hulman 38, Hanover 28
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John Carroll 24, at Baldwin Wallace 21
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at Otterbein 56, Wilmington 28
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Trinity (Texas) 28, at Millsaps 26
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at Buena Vista 39, Central 38
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at Concordia-Moorhead 31, Bethel 7
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St. John's 56, at St. Olaf 7
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Gustavus Adolphus 42, at Augsburg 37
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Coe 35, at Nebraska Wesleyan 25
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Wartburg 40, at Simpson 31
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Elmhurst 23, at North Park 20
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at Huntingdon 41, N.C. Wesleyan 30
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at Hardin-Simmons 55, Louisiana College 10
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UW-River Falls 30, at Missouri Baptist 3
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at Whitworth 53, La Verne 0
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St. Thomas 63, at Carleton 0
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Denison 62, at Allegheny 26
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Lewis and Clark 40, at Pomona-Pitzer 29
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at Wittenberg 34, Oberlin 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Plymouth State 29
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Washington and Lee 24, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 14
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Warner at Pacific Lutheran
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Cal Lutheran 28, at Willamette 13
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, at Linfield 3
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at George Fox 13, Redlands 10
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at Mass-Dartmouth 51, Westfield State 26
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at Castleton 28, Norwich 14
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at Berry 34, Rhodes 13
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Brockport 38, at St. John Fisher 7
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at WPI 38, Becker 0
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at Adrian 62, Rockford 7
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Frostburg State 33, at Christopher Newport 30
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at Hobart 56, Shenandoah 30
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at Case Western Reserve 42, Grove City 10
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at Davidson 42, Guilford 21
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at Bridgewater 52, The Apprentice School 0
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at Capital 39, Muskingum 28
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at Washington and Jefferson 37, Thomas More 29
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at North Central (Ill.) 26, Illinois Wesleyan 13
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at McMurry 33, Howard Payne 21
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at Dubuque 27, Loras 24
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 37, Carthage 14
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at Texas Lutheran 37, Belhaven 0
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at Carroll 28, Augustana 25
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St. Vincent 31, at Geneva 27
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East Texas Baptist 28, at Southwestern 10
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Pacific at Occidental
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Sep. 16: All times Eastern
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Wesley 33, at TCNJ 0
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at Johns Hopkins 37, Moravian 7
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at Alfred 24, Utica 17
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UW-Platteville 38, at Hampden-Sydney 29
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Mount Union 69, at Marietta 3
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John Carroll 24, at Baldwin Wallace 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 55, Louisiana College 10
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St. John's 56, at St. Olaf 7
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at Concordia-Moorhead 31, Bethel 7
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at Whitworth 53, La Verne 0
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St. Thomas 63, at Carleton 0
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at Wittenberg 34, Oberlin 0
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, at Linfield 3
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at George Fox 13, Redlands 10
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Brockport 38, at St. John Fisher 7
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Frostburg State 33, at Christopher Newport 30
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at Case Western Reserve 42, Grove City 10
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at Washington and Jefferson 37, Thomas More 29
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 37, Carthage 14
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at North Central (Ill.) 26, Illinois Wesleyan 13
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