BETHANY - No coach, player or team ever wants to be saddled with being referred to as a "hard luck loser", unfortunately that is exactly where Bethany finds itself with just one game remaining.
Entering Saturday's contest with four-time defending Presidents' Athletic Conference champion Thomas More, three of the Bison's six losses had come by a total of eight points. That was a statistic that did not improve Saturday.
Bethany's defense did all it could do to hold down the Saints, however, the missed opportunities by the offense proved to be the difference as the Bison's season of misery continued with a heartbreaking, 13-10, overtime loss at Bison Stadium.
The game figured to be a high-scoring affair, at least from the visitor's point of view, with the Bethany defense surrendering an average of 35 points an outing and the Saints scoring 30 tallies a game. However, a bend-but-don't break first half allowed just one touchdown while the Bison gave up just 85 yards in the second half, 25 of those coming in overtime.
It looked as though the hosts might score quickly in the extra session when junior record-setting quarterback Matt Grimard busted off a 16-yard run to the nine on the very first play. But a seven-yard sack on the very next put Bethany in a hole and eventually led to Justin Evans' 22-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead.
Head Coach James Hilvert then switched things up on Thomas More's possession, inserting sophomore back-up quarterback Luke Magness into the game for the first time all day. More of a runner than freshman starter Jensen Gebhardt, Magness turned into the hero in a short span of time.
Magness' first two plays turned into runs of seven and five yards to put the ball inside the 15. Junior Adam Rauch, who finished the game with 154 rushing stripes, then sandwiched runs of four and five yards around a Magness two-yard gain to put the ball at the Bethany 1.
A pair of quick Rauch dives into the line did not put the ball over the goal line; so on third down the Saints went back to Magness, who appeared to fumble the ball into the end zone before breaking the plain. Unfortunately for the hosts, after a short discussion by the officials it was ruled a touchdown, setting off a wild celebration by Thomas More.
"If you ask the guy who came up on the losing end what he thought, well, I thought it was a fumble," a dejected Tim Weaver said. "Of course if you ask them I am sure they didn't think it was and that is what the ruling ended up being.
"I am very proud of the effort these guys gave (Saturday), but it is very frustrating to lose like this again. This is the fourth time this season that we have lost a game like this."
Grimard completed 27 of 43 passes, but with the short passing game clicking finished with just 161 yards, just six yards a completion. Ed Holmes and Johnathan Foster combined for 17 grabs, but again, just 93 yards.