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Bethany Snaps Losing Skid, Blanks Thiel

Despite weather, Grimard has solid day through air

October 16, 2011
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BETHANY - Weather conditions can be a funny thing in the game of football, taking away strengths and sometimes creating overall havoc on offenses.

With heavy, gusty winds Saturday afternoon, it appeared as though the passing game might not play much of a factor in the President's Athletic Conference match up between Thiel and Bethany.

Of course, things are not always as they appear.

The Bison used a precision, short passing attack by sophomore quarterback Matt Grimard to take control, scoring all of the game's points in a big second-quarter rally leading to an impressive 20-0 victory against the winless Tomcats at Bison Stadium.

With the victory Bethany wipes out the effects of a modest two-game losing streak and also picks up its third consecutive victory in the series against Thiel. For the Tomcats it continues a string of losses dating back to the 2009 season.

Wind, a short punt and a devastating defensive penalty all played a factor in the first score of the game as Bethany (3-3, 2-3 PAC) finally dented the scoreboard early in the second period.

The hosts took over at the Tomcats' 46 following a short, wind-blown punt, but it looked as though the drive may stall after a three-yard run and a pair of long incomplete passes. However, a roughing the passer penalty gave the hosts new life.

Grimard's 3-yard pass to Gage Lotozo, off a beautiful play-action, got the Bison off and running at 13:13 of the second period, capping the eight-play drive, with Stephen Amic's point-after making it a 7-0 count.

Another Thiel (0-6, 0-4) mistake, this time Nate Houpt's fumble on the ensuing kickoff, put Bethany in business again, this time at the Tomcats' 32.

With a heavy wind blowing in their faces, and the running game bottled up early, the Bison went to the short passing game to near perfection. Grimard, who at one point completed 12 consecutive attempts, worked the hosts down to the 8 before finding junior Ed Holmes with a touchdown strike at 9:19. Amic's boot pushed the margin to 14-0.

Thiel managed to go on a march of its own later in the period, driving all the way to the enemy 25 before a Prince Aguzie sack forced a punt with the hosts taking over at their own 20 with 1:59..

Bethany used the short, quick passing attack to push the ball down the field, eventually finishing off an eight-play, 80-yard march on Nico Irizarry 1-yard run around left end with 38 seconds remaining. The point-after failed, but it was 20-0, and all that the Bison needed.

Taking over at their own 40, the Tomcats moved to the Bison 14 before time ran out in the half.

''It really is a tribute to Thiel's defense that we weren't able to establish the run on them early on,'' Bethany coach Tim Weaver said. ''They had great contain, but we felt that we had the athletes to attack the perimeter with the short passes so we went that route.

''We have an experienced offense, so there was no panic. The touchdown at the end of the half was big, but we have done well in our two minute offense this season.

''The players really executed, Matt (Grimard) did a great job and has really continued growing, but I think the defense was the story of the day. They gained some yardage on us on a few drives, but nobody was open deep and we were able to stop them in the red zone.''

Grimard was an impressive 21 of 28 throwing the football for 171 yards and the two scores. Filling in for injured senior Eric Walker, Irizarry, a sophomore, finished with 117 yards on 22 yards.

''Niko (Irizarry) is very shifty and a playmaker,'' Weaver said. ''He did a good job on draws, and if he gets a little space he is dangerous. But honestly, I really didn't think he had that many yards and if you asked him I don't think he would tell you he had a great game.''

Thiel's De'Von Drish moved the Tomcats up and down the field most of the day, but was unable to get the visitors into the end zone. Drish finished with 131 rushing yards on 30 totes. On the defensive side, Thiel junior Tim Taylor collected five quarterback droppings.

Both teams ran 62 offensive plays in the contest with Bethany finishing with a 264-258 advantage in yardage.