Behind three second-quarter touchdowns and a defense that limited Thiel to 258 yards and forced three turnovers, the Bethany College football team blanked the visiting Tomcats 20-0 at a windswept Bison Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Thiel had the first scoring chance of the day, driving down to the BC nine-yard line before a sack by Bison senior DE Kasib Taalib-Din on fourth down turned the ball back over to Bethany. The Green and White was unable to move the ball on that possession but a 65-yard punt by freshman Stephen Amic shifted field position.
After the Bison forced a three-and-out, they took over at the TC 49 following a short punt. A personal foul call against Thiel ignited Bethany following a sluggish offensive start and the drive reached the Tomcat three. Then on third down, sophomore QB Matt Grimard lofted a three-yard touchdown pass to junior linebacker Gage Lotozo, who was in the game as an extra blocking back, and the Bison went in front 7-0.
The Tomcats fumbled the ensuing kickoff and BC pounced on the loose ball at the Thiel 32. Seven plays later, Grimard hit junior WR Ed Holmes for an eight-yard scoring pass and the extra point swelled the lead to 14-0.
Late in the half, the Green and White struck again. Highlighting the eight-play, 80-yard march were two big plays by sophomore RB Nico Irizarry. First was a 17-yard run, which was added to with a personal foul call on Thiel. Then Irizarry snared a 19-yard completion from Grimard to take BC down to the one. The next play saw the second-year back dart off left tackle for a one-yard touchdown run and although the extra point was blown wide by the wind, Bethany's lead stood at 20-0 going into halftime.
The second half belonged to the Bison defense. On Thiel's first possession of the third period, freshman cornerback Wyssmy Despagne picked off his first career pass to snuff out a Thiel drive in Bethany territory. On the visitors' next drive, they moved to the Bison 32, but the defense stripped the ball from De'Von Drish, who rushed for 131 yards in the game, and Taalib-Din recovered the fumble to end another threat.
In the fourth quarter, Thiel had the ball twice but did not drive closer than the BC 48 and the Bison completed their first shutout since a 24-0 whitewash of Westminster in Oct., 2001. Leading the Bethany defense was junior LB Kyle Arrington with 14 tackles. Taalib-Din stepped up with nine tackles, including two for loss and a sack and recovered a fumble, while freshman Demetrius Wellington made nine stops in his first career start.
The BC offense only outgained the Tomcats 264-258, but controlled the football for 32:57, including over 20 minutes of possession in the second half. Irizarry, making the start in place of injured senior RB Eric Walker, amassed 117 rushing yards on 22 carries and scored the one touchdown. He also caught five passes for 57 yards. Grimard was efficient on the day, completing 21-of-28 for 171 yards and two scores.
Counting his touchdown reception, Holmes finished the afternoon with a game-high eight receptions for 74 yards.
Bethany will go on the road next week for a tough challenge, as BC travels to Kentucky to face sixth-ranked Thomas More. The Saints are 6-0 this year following a 20-17 triumph at Saint Vincent Saturday. Kickoff at The Bank of Kentucky Field is slated for 1:30 p.m.