Alma 28, Bluffton 16
Bluffton battles Alma before falling to Scots 28-16
September 5, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team looked vastly improved in its 2009 opener against Alma College in Salzman Stadium on Saturday, September 5, 2009. The Scots handled Bluffton by a 49-0 count a year ago, but the Beavers came out ready to play in front of a loud crowd this afternoon. Bluffton led 16-14 late in the third quarter before the visitors scored on back-to-back possessions for a 28-16 victory over the Beavers.
After forcing Alma into a three and out on the first possession of the game, local product Jesse Herr (Bluffton) picked off All-MIAA quarterback Mackenzie McGrady at the Alma 36 to set up the first touchdown of the year for Bluffton. Senior signal-caller Brock Miller (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) connected with Ross Shoup (Apple Creek/Waynedale) for a 21-yard completion following the pickoff. Jason G. Johnson (Cleveland/Collinwood) went eight yards for a quick first down and two plays later he punched it in from two yards out for a 6-0 lead. Jon Thompson (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) tacked on the extra point, giving the Beavers a 7-0 lead midway through the first period.
The stout Beaver defense again kept Alma from moving the chains on the Scots next possession but after a three and out by Bluffton, McGrady found Andrew Scharr for a catch in front of the home bench and he did the rest as Alma needed only one play for its 72-yard scoring strike.
The Beavers responded with a 32-yard Thompson field goal early in period two to reclaim the lead, 10-7. A 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff gave Alma excellent field position at the Bluffton 46-yard line. Alma worked around a pair of false starts to go 46 yards in just seven plays as McGrady hit Scharr for an 11-yard score with 8:04 to play in the half. The Scots moved the chains three times on their next drive before Bluffton ended the possession with a Stephen Miller (Logan) sack of McGrady as the Scots took a 14-10 lead into halftime.
On Bluffton's first play from scrimmage in the second half, Antwane Miller (Canton/Timken) got to the outside and went to the house for 69-yard scoring run that made the score 16-14. The Beavers' offense stalled in the third quarter following the Miller touchdown and Alma continued to keep the pressure on before McGrady tossed his third touchdown of the day, a 33-yarder to Montgomery late in the third quarter.
The Scots made it 28-16 with 10:39 to play in the game thanks to a fourth scoring strike by McGrady, this time to Tyler Wise from 40 yards out. Bluffton's offense put together one more solid drive late in the contest as Brock Miller tossed five completions, but Alma kept the Beavers from getting into the red zone as the Scots took over at their own 29-yard line with 3:37 to play. Bluffton was unable to force a quick turnover and Alma held on for the 28-16 victory in the 2009 opener for both teams.
Sophomore running backs Jason G. Johnson and Antwane Miller paced the Bluffton running game with 92 and 78 yards, respectively, on the ground. Brock Miller completed 15-of-31 passes for 115 yards. Jason G. Johnson and Jason A. Johnson (Lansing, Mich./Lansing Eastern) hauled in five and three passes for 27 and 34 yards, respectively. Senior wideout Dan Chipka (Waterville/Anthony Wayne) had two receptions for 13 yards while Shoup and Todd Trotter (Cincinnati/Aiken University) both added one reception apiece.
Shane Hubbard (Johnstown/Big Walnut) led the Beaver defense with 10 tackles. Fellow sophomore Jacob Luthy (Ida, Mich./Ida) tallied eight stops, including a crucial sack of McGrady after being upended as he entered the backfield. Mitch Dunlap (St Marys/Memorial) and Steve Sealscott (Van Wert) both added six tackles. Freshmen Justin Hahn (Rocky River) and Stephen Miller both finished with sacks on the afternoon. Sophomores Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) and Jesse Herr both chipped in with five tackles for the Beavers.
Alma put together 23 first downs, compared to 16 for the home team. The Beavers outgained the Scots on the ground, 174 to 103 yards. Through the air was where Alma made its living, completing 22 passes for 344 yards and four scores. Bluffton held a slight time of possession edge for the game, 31:42 to 28:18. Alma converted on 9-of-17 third down chances, while the Beavers only moved the chains four times on third down.
The Bluffton University football team has a bye week before welcoming another MIAA opponent, Adrian College, to Salzman Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 19. The contest against Adrian is slated to start at 1:30 p.m.