Geneva-Bethany Football Preview

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Bethany College (2-5) vs. Geneva College (6-1)

1:00 pm - Reeves Field

Beaver Falls, PA

It has been 14 years since a Geneva College football team ran the table and enjoyed an undefeated home regular season. In 1995, the Golden Tornadoes finished the season with a perfect record at home before dropping a one-point decision to Malone in the play-offs. When you flash forward to 2009, the Golden Tornadoes have put themselves in a similar situation with only the Bethany College Bison standing in the way of a 5-0 record on the home turf of Reeves Field.

Geneva won its fourth straight home game last Saturday when it came back from three points down in the fourth quarter against Saint Vincent and managed 21 unanswered points for a 38-20 victory. It was the second time this season that the Golden Tornadoes had rallied for a comeback victory over the Bearcats. Matt Dean scored three touchdowns giving him a team leading ten rushing touchdowns on the season. A.J. Delmonico stole the momentum from Saint Vincent in the fourth quarter with a 74 yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Golden Tornadoes a lead it would never relinquish. The Golden Tornadoes and junior quarterback David Girardi have become an efficient offensive machine. Girardi completed 20-25 passes and once again did not throw an interception. Girardi has attempted 187 passes in 2009 and has thrown only three interceptions all season.

Girardi has found a new favorite receiver in freshman Sam Thurston. Thurston caught nine passes against Saint Vincent and leads the offense with 29 catches and 294 yards in his first seven collegiate games. While the offense has certainly found its stride, the Geneva College defense continues to play takeaway from its opponents. Geneva has forced a conference leading 21 turnovers including four takeaways against Saint Vincent. Rich Kolesar leads the PAC with five interceptions on the season.

Bethany comes into action having dropped its last two games including a 52-13 loss to Waynesburg last Saturday. The Bison are averaging just under 23 points per game and allowing almost 35 points per contest. Only twice this season has Bethany kept an opponent under 30 points. Dan Pegg has taken over as the starting quarterback replacing Chad Smith who threw nine interceptions before being lifted. Pegg is yet to throw an interception in completing 22-40 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns. On the ground, Bethany relies on Eric Walker and his 739 yards and 5.8 yard per rush average. Walker has found the end zone nine times on the ground and four more times on the receiving end of passes thrown by Smith and Pegg.

The Bison feature three defensive players with 40+ tackles on the season. Led by Matt Dahle′s 68 tackles, Nelson Mitzen (51 tackles) and Kyle Arrington (43 tackles) have also enjoyed solid campaigns. Bethany is 1-2 away from home this year and is yet to win a PAC road contest with losses at Thomas More and Waynesburg.

Geneva defeated Bethany 38-23 last year and has posted four consecutive victories against the Bison dating back to 1973. The Golden Tornadoes lead the all-time series by a decisive 27-7-1 margin and opened the series back in 1909 with a 3-0 victory.

Geneva closes out the regular season on the road at defending PAC champion Thomas More next weekend and at Westminster on November 14th. The Golden Tornadoes remain at the top of the NCCAA polls with their 6-1 record. If that ranking were to remain at the end of the regular season, Geneva would be in a position to host the NCCAA Victory Bowl on November 21st. Geneva would be the first NCCAA team to compete in its sixth Victory Bowl. The Golden Tornadoes are 4-1 all-time in the NCCAA title game with the loss coming in Geneva′s most recent contest against Malone on College Hill back in 2007.