BETHANY, W.Va. - After rushing for 140 yards in its first four games combined, the Westminster College football team exploded on the ground for 296 rushing yards during a 30-27 win at Bethany Saturday in a Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) game that saw eight lead changes. The Titans improve to 3-2 overall and they are 2-1 after their first three PAC games for the first time since 2003. Bethany falls to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the PAC.
Westminster's 296 rushing yards were the most since the Titans rushed for 306 yards in a 41-22 win over Hiram in 2004 and their 54 passing yards were the fewest since they threw for 34 in a 12-7 win at Geneva in 2001.
Junior running back John Proano rushed for a career-high 144 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown as he rushed for the most yards by a Titan since Nick McKolosky scampered for 146 in a win over Saint Vincent in 2008. Proano's 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave Westminster a 17-14 lead was his third of the season and fifth of his career.
Sophomore running back Tyler Banks also rushed 13 times for 80 yards including a 3-yard touchdown for the game's first points in the second quarter.
Bethany quarterback Matt Grimard sandwiched a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes around a Westminster field goal to give the Bison a 14-10 halftime lead.
Grimard finished 19-of-28 passing for 215 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Grimard's final pass of the game was intercepted by Westminster junior linebacker Nate Moot on the Titan 8-yard line after Bethany opted to go for it on fourth-down-and-goal from the Titan 6-yard line with 1:18 remaining rather than attempt a game-tying field goal.
It was the second time during the game that Westminster intercepted Grimard at the Titan 8-yard line as junior safety Kyle Allen posted his PAC-leading fourth interception of the season and his ninth career interception with 1:41 left in the third quarter and Bethany leading 21-17.
After Allen's interception, Westminster went 83 yards in 13 plays to retake the lead when junior Geno Pasquinelli caught his first of two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from senior quarterback Shawn Lehocky.
Pasquinelli, who caught four passes for 35 yards, hauled in touchdowns from 10 and 20 yards, the latter giving Westminster its final lead with 5:24 remaining. Pasquinelli now has five touchdowns this year and 12 for his career.
Two of Lehocky's five completions and eight pass attempts went for touchdowns while he was also intercepted once before finishing with 54 passing yards.
Bethany outgained Westminster 371-350 as Nico Irizarry led the Bison with 74 rushing yards on 11 attempts including a 41-yard touchdown run gave Bethany a 27-24 lead with 8:33 remaining. Bethany's leading receivers were Alex Evans with six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown and Ed Holmes with five snares for 65 yards and a score.
Other notables for Westminster included sophomore kicker Zac Henry converting a season-long 38-yard field goal to put the Titans up 10-7 in the second quarter and sophomore linebacker Alex Kernicky leading the Titans with a game-high 14 tackles.
Westminster will host Waynesburg on Saturday, Oct. 15, for its annual Homecoming game for a 1 p.m. kickoff.