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Football Bearcats Fight for a Bowl Game: Bearcats seek Success in Second Half of Season

By Jacob Rzempoluch, Sports Editor

Originally Published October 18, 2023

Football is often referred to as “the ultimate team sport.” One star player cannot carry a team to victory; it takes several groups of players with different skills and strengths to win a game. This season, the Saint Vincent College (SVC) football team has shown flashes of potential, with great plays coming from all parts of the team. However, the team has struggled to put together game-winning performances. A little over the halfway point of the season, the team’s record stands at 2-4, with wins against the Allegheny Gators and the Geneva Golden Tornadoes.

“If we finish some of these plays we feel like we’ve left on the field, I don’t see why we shouldn’t have an opportunity to play in a bowl game,” said Head Coach Aaron Smetanka. The former Bearcat quarterback has high hopes for the rest of the season, but notes that to win more games this season, the team needs to execute on big opportunities and have a good day across offense, defense, and special teams. “You’re not always going to get those plays back.”

“The great thing about this team is that it's not heavily reliant on one single person,” Austin Slye, senior business economics major and quarterback, said. “Everyone has an important role, and everyone doing their assignment has helped propel us to some big wins these past two games.”

Senior Max Pisula takes down a Case Western runner. (SOURCE: WATKINS)

In all the Bearcats’ games this season, the defense has stood out as exceptionally talented. Max Pisula, senior communication major, was named President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) defensive player of the week for his performance against Geneva that included 11 tackles and three forced fumbles, a program record. His four forced fumbles for the season are tied for the lead among all divisions of collegiate football, and his eight and a half tackles for loss is fourth best in the PAC.

In response to being recognized with PAC honors, Pisula said that he felt “blessed, but it isn’t that important to me.” Further emphasizing the role of teamwork in Bearcat success, he also said that the team’s biggest strength “is how we are all on the same page and have a brotherhood all about us.”

Wiley Purry, junior business administration major, has also been an important defensive force for the Bearcats, leading the team with 57 tackles, good for second in the PAC. Graduate student Ahmad Shaw, junior communication major Ethan Facey, and senior psychology major Nate Sullivan have also been recognized by coaches or teammates as having an impact on the defense’s success so far.

After two challenging losses to the Case Western Reserve Spartans and the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets, SVC faces the undefeated Grove City Wolverines in a tough away game. To make a bowl game, the Bearcats will need to reverse their luck and play to their absolute maximum ability. Can the Bearcats make the most of their talent and finish with a winning record and a bowl game appearance?

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