Manchester 20, Bluffton 13
Manchester holds on for 20-13 Homecoming victory over the Beavers
October 6, 2007
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - A rocky first quarter cost the Bluffton University football team as Manchester College put two touchdowns on the board in the first 14 minutes of the game and held on for a 20-13 victory over the Beavers on Saturday, October 6, 2007. Bluffton tightened up its defense and limited the Spartans to a fourth quarter score following an interception at the home 43, but the Beavers could not get over the hump and Manchester pulled out its first victory over Bluffton in four years to cap off its Homecoming weekend.
The Beavers went three-and-out on their first two possessions before Manchester opened its second drive from the home 18-yard line. A pair of Joel Hawkins completions and five Brandon Wells rushes for 39 yards set up a three-yard Hawkins plunge that made the score 6-0 in favor of Manchester with six minutes to play in the first quarter. Manchester picked up five first downs and went 82 yards on only nine plays in 3:34.
On Bluffton's ensuing possession, junior Kyle Coleman (Etna/Watkins Memorial) was intercepted by J. Jones giving Manchester the ball on its own 30-yard line. The Spartans capped a six-play, 70-yard drive with a 23-yard strike to J. Yoder, making the score 13-0 and causing the Beaver faithful to wonder if they were witnessing another Franklin-like performance.
Two more possessions in which the Beavers failed to move the chains were followed by a fumbled punt return that the Spartans recovered at the Bluffton 36-yard line. Showing that they were not ready to concede the defeat, Bluffton's defense rose to the occasion. Following three Wells rushes, Taylor Iceman (Lucas/Lucas) picked off Hawkins in the end zone for his third interception of 2007.
With only 1:12 left on the clock in the first half, Brock Miller (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) took over under center and engineered an 80-yard drive that included a 57-yard strike to Mike Brown (North Wales, Penn./Calvary Christian Academy) and a six-yarder to Brown for a touchdown with less than two seconds remaining in the half. The 1:10 possession made the score 13-7 in favor of the home team at the break.
Manchester used a heavy dose of A. Schell running the ball to open the third quarter, but two Hawkins incompletions stalled the drive and Bluffton took over on downs at the home 32-yard line.
The Beavers fashioned 15-play, 57-yard drive on their ensuing possession that ate up 7:42 off the game clock as Bluffton picked up five first downs; however, when Jonathan Thompson's 31-yard field goal attempt rattled the left upright the Beavers had no points to show for their effort.
To open the fourth quarter, Manchester marched 57 yards on nine plays and found the end zone when Schell caught a quick hitter in the flats and did the rest to make the score 20-7 with 10 minutes to play in the contest.
With a heightened sense of urgency, Bluffton responded with a 13-play, 68-yard scoring drive that included passes to Cameron Campeau (Pfafftown, N.C.), Drew Lovelace (Trumansburg, N.Y./Charles U. Dickerson) and Mike Brown before fullback Ed Jackson (Dayton/Northridge) went in from one-yard out for his first career touchdown.
The Beavers' defense shut down Manchester on three straight plays to give Bluffton the ball back with just over three minutes left on the clock. Coleman found Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) for 16 yards and A.J. Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) for 13 yards giving Bluffton a first down at the home 47 with less than a minute to play. With 28 seconds remaining, Coleman threw into coverage and J. Sams came away with the pickoff at the home three-yard line, preserving Manchester's 20-13 Homecoming day victory over Bluffton and moving the Spartans to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Heartland Conference while the Beavers fell to 0-5 and 0-2 in HCAC action.
The Bluffton offense put up 282 yards on 65 plays, including 214 yards through the air. Manchester countered with a balanced attack that went for 350 yards, 191 on the ground and 159 yards passing. The Beavers coughed up the ball once and were intercepted three times in the contest. On third down, Bluffton struggled as it picked up first downs on only five of 15 chances, while Manchester made good on eight of its 15 opportunities.
Sam McCullough (Bluffton/Bluffton) continued to add to his already gaudy numbers, making 15 stops which included seven solo tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss. He has 69 tackles through Bluffton's first five games. Senior safety Taylor Iceman had 11 tackles to go along with his second quarter pick. Ryan Christy (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnet) added seven tackles while senior linebackers Jeremy Hanson (Oakwood/Paulding) and Gordon Hagen (Toledo/Libbey) chipped in with six stops each.
Brock Miller completed 7-of-8 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown before having to come out with an injury in the third stanza. Coleman was 8-of-21 for 112 yards but also threw three interceptions in the loss to the Spartans. Sienicki caught four passes for 39 yards. Brown went 80 yards on three receptions, including a touchdown, to lead the Beavers. Ramthun and Campeau hauled in three catches for 30 and 26 yards, respectively.
The Beavers return to the road on Saturday, Oct. 13, when they travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to face the Engineers. Kickoff with Rose-Hulman is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.