BETHANY - Freshman quarterback Matt Grimard scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:45 to play, and the Bethany College defense stopped a drive inside its red zone to cement the 24-17 victory over Waynesburg Saturday in front of the Homecoming crowd at Bison Stadium.
Bethany (2-3, 1-1) used one short drive and one long march for scores in the first quarter to jump out to a 14-0 lead. Junior Alex Evans returned the opening kickoff 68 yards to the Waynesburg 30. Three plays later junior Eric Walker bolted into the end zone from 9-yards out for a 7-0 Bethany lead.
Waynesburg (2-2, 2-1) was forced to punt on its first possession, and the Bison started on their own 15 yard line. Grimard was 5-for-5 on the 88-yard drive for 49 yards, including completions of 16 yards to sophomore wide receiver Ed Holmes and 12 yards to freshman receiver Chris Collins to convert third down opportunities. On the 18th play of the drive, Walker bulled his way on fourth-and-goal to put Bethany up, 14-0.
The Yellow Jackets reached the end zone for the first time early in the second quarter. They needed just three plays to score as Bertrand Ngampa ran in from the 2.
The Yellow Jackets used a 38-yard return on the second half kickoff by Troy Garove to establish good field position but stalled out after reaching the Bethany 18. Jon Storck booted a 35-yard field goal to make it 14-10.
On the opening play of the ensuing drive, Grimard raced 34 yards into Waynesburg territory and Bethany was in business. The freshman signal caller later converted a third-and-17 with a 30-yard hook-up with sophomore C.J. Thomas to the Jackets' 11 yard line.
The Bison reached the Waynesburg 3 before Robert Headden made a 20-yard field goal. It was Bethany's first made field goal since the 2008 season finale.
After an interception, Waynesburg quarterback Brad Dawson hit on all five pass attempts for 52 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown toss to tight end Adam Moses with 10:49 remaining to draw the visitors even at 17-17.
Bethany's 60-yard final drive was dominated by Grimard, who hit Holmes for three straight completions totaling 23 yards. He later fired a six-yard pass to Thomas to give Bethany a first-and-goal at the Waynesburg 5.
Grimard kept it on the next play and took it into the end zone for the five-yard touchdown that gave the Bison a, 24-17, lead.
Waynesburg mounted a serious threat to tie the game again with their next possession. Dawson fired three completions in a row that covered 35 yards and the Yellow Jackets had a first down at the Bison 21 yard line. Two runs gained five yards and an incomplete pass put Wayneburg in a fourth-and-five at the 16. Dawson went play-action and tried to roll out to his left, but Bethany junior defensive end Kasib Taalib-Din sacked Dawson for a nine-yard loss to give the ball back to the Bison.
Bethany turned to their backfield combo of Grimard and Walker. Grimard picked up one first down with consecutive seven-yard runs. That was followed by a pair of three-yard gains by Walker sandwiched around a three-yard run by Grimard to give the Bison a fourth-and-one at their own 48. Head coach Tim Weaver sent the offense back out on the field and Grimard sealed the victory with a two-yard quarterback sneak to give Bethany their first PAC win of the season and hand Waynesburg their initial conference defeat of the year.
Grimard posted impressive numbers for the Bison recording 256 of their 353 total yards in the contest. He had his string of consecutive 100-yard rushing games stopped at three, but still gained 83 yards and the winning touchdown on the ground. Through the air, he completed 17-of-22 for a career high 173 yards and used six different receivers.
Walker was the leading ground gainer in the ball game, piling up 96 yards and the two scores on 26 carries. In the process, he surpassed Brandon Isbell (2,036) and Demrey Brandon (2,083) on the Bethany career rushing yards list and now has 2,098 yards in his two and half years in Green and White.
The Bison defense also had a stout game, as they limited the Yellow Jackets to 273 total yards and allowed the visitors to convert on just 2-of-11 third down situations. Freshman safety Jordan Joyce sparked the effort with 11 tackles, while sophomore LB Willis Powell was in on nine stops.
Bethany will be on the road for its next two contests, beginning next Saturday with a road trip to Westminster. Kickoff in New Wilmington is scheduled for 1 p.m.