Quarterback Jordan Fowler, ’12, showed some growing pains in Saturday night’s opener, but what hurt the Gators more was his counterpart.
Bethany College quarterback Matt Grimard accounted for four touchdowns-two rushing and two passing-and had 301 all-purpose yards in a 28-7 win over the Gators at Robertson Field.
“He’s a major college prospect,” said Matlak about Grimard, who accounted for 66 percent of Bethany’s offense. “He certainly is a superior player out there on the field.
The first quarter went scoreless mainly because each team squandered red zone opportunities. After recovering a fumble at Bethany’s 24-yard line, Fowler was intercepted by Jeff Joyce in the end zone to give the ball back to the Bison.
Bethany (1-0) then drove the ball to the Allegheny (0-1) 4-yard line, but the 21-yard attempt by Stephen Amic was low from the start and flew under the crossbar.
At 6:40 in the second half, Bethany made the first strike of the game on a 55-yard catch and run from Grimard to senior wideout Alex Evans. After an Allegheny punt, Bethany took advantage of a personal foul on a 3rd and 15 play and found the end zone a second time, this time on a 6-yard pass to Ed Holmes with 11 seconds left in the half.
Allegheny responded with a touchdown drive in their first possession of the first half, capped by a 31-yard strike from Fowler to Sean Griffin, ’12. That brought the score to 14-7 and energized a defense that had been drained by having to play 42 snaps in the first half on a muggy evening in Meadville.
The rejuvenated defense held Bethany to a three and out following the touchdown highlighted by a third down sack by Josh Douglass.
The offense failed to put together a lengthy drive, however, and with the ball back in his hands, Grimard led the Bisons on a 12-play, 6:49 drive and finished it with his first rushing touchdown of the game.
“We came right out and scored again [in the second half], but then we stalled out again,” Matlak said.
He added his second rushing touchdown at the 8:50 mark in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard run following a Fowler fumble.
The Allegheny offense showed flashes of efficiency throughout the game, Matlak said they really struggled to perform at the level they needed to.
“Good effort, lack of execution. That’s what I told our guys,” Matlak said. “They executed at a higher level than we did and that was evident out there.”
Matlak was comfortable with letting Fowler throw the ball downfield, but the senior making his first collegiate start showed signs that there is much work to be done. He finished the game going 14-26 with 128 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble.
As a whole the Gator offense was not nearly as potent as their opponent’s. They totaled 189 yards compared to Bethany’s 456.
Allegheny will look to get back in the win column next week when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on Carnegie Mellon Sept. 10. The Gators won last year’s meeting 34-27.