Football games between Bethany and Washington & Jefferson are like the boxing game, Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

One good shot can dislodge your jaw and stop you cold.

Such was the case with Bethany, again.

The Bison hung around like a pesky fly at a picnic for half the football game.

But when W&J landed a 1-2 punch that loosened the jaw, Bethany collapsed, 28-3, in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game at Cameron Stadium.

The two biggest punches took the form of a 29-yard pass from quarterback Justin Heacock to Cameron O’Brien and a 31-yard run by tailback Justin Huss. That turned a 7-3 lead into a 21-3 lead,

“We practiced bad all week and when you practice bad, you play bad,” said W&J head coach Mike Sirianni after his team moved to 3-0 with the win. “We have to be a veteran team that understands practices are important. Give them credit, the played us tough. We didn’t practice very well and that’s where everything starts.”

Early in the fourth quarter, things got out of hand. It began with an unsportsmanlike conduct of Bethany that nearly ignited a brawl. That set off W&J and three penalties later, the Presidents were facing a fourth-and-43 at their own 46.

“This series gets a little chippy sometimes,” said mike linebacker Sean Doran, who had a career-best 17 tackles. “They usually come out with trick plays, things we never saw before, and we have to adjust. I try to stay away from that. I don’t want to cost my team any penalties. But if someone says something to one of my teammates that shouldn’t be said,, I’ll stand up for them.”

The bad blood bubbled up early in the fourth quarter. A penalty on Bethany for unsportsmanlike conduct got the players chirping at one another. By the time it was over, flags had been thrown on two W&J players and Sirianni.

“I can’t get penalized like that,” Siranni said.

Fortunately, Sirianni’s defense continued to play well. Two touchdowns to John Carroll, none from the first team against Thiel and a field goal to Bethany.

The defense produced five turnovers, interceptions by Max Garda, Nick Friewald, Tanner Volpatti and Delonte Nunnally and a fumble recovery by Drew Ehrlich.

Heacock had another strong game, completing 18 of 25 passes for 164 yards and the touchdown.

Koroly finished with 99 yards on 19 carries and Huss had 89 yards on just five carries.

“It’s the traditional rivals between the two schools,” said Bethany head coach Bill Garvey. “If we can’t get ready to play the No. 12 team in the country, then there’s something wrong.”

The only score of the first half came ona two-yard run by Joey Koroly with 9:13 to play in the second quarter.

The drive started after a fourth-down failed try by Bethany. The big play was a 21-yard by Justin Huss to the Bethany five-yard line. Two plays later, Koroly brought it in.

Bethany had trouble moving the ball, thanks to five illegal procedure penalties.

Koroly finished the first half with 53 yards on 12 carries. Heacock completed 11 of 17 passes for for 85 yards.

Notes

The 2021 football season marks the 100th anniversary of the W&J Presidents playing in the historic Rose Bowl game, which culminated their 1921-1922 season. Prior to the W&J vs. Bethany College football game, a ceremony to commemorate the team and honor their living descendants was held at Cameron Stadium.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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