Bluffton rally falls just short in 27-20 loss to Hanover College
October 30, 2010
By: Josh Bruner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team hosted Hanover College at Salzman
Stadium for an HCAC matchup on Saturday, October 30. The Panthers built a 20-0 lead
over the Beavers during the first two periods before Bluffton's offense found its
stride in the second half. The Beavers outscored the Panthers 20-7 after the break,
but the comeback was not enough as Bluffton fell to the Panthers 27-20. The loss bumped
Bluffton back to 3-6 overall with a 2-5 mark in the HCAC. Hanover jumped to 6-2 overall
and 5-1 in the HCAC after the win with contests against Mount St. Joseph and Franklin
in front of the Panthers.
The offenses both started slowly as the teams struggled to move the chains in the
first quarter. The Panthers took over on the Bluffton 10 yard line with four minutes
left in the quarter thanks to a Bluffton fumble. The Bluffton defense held strong
in the red zone and they returned the favor by forcing a fumble of their own to regain
possession. The Hanover offense took advantage of a three-and-out by Bluffton when
wideout Daniel Passafiume found Shawn Gibson in the end zone with time winding down in the first quarter. The scoring toss gave
Hanover a 6-0 lead going into the second quarter.
The first play of the quarter was a Bluffton fumble in its own end zone that was picked
up by Hanover for a touchdown. The Panthers used a 41-yard Colton Zeck punt return to set up their next score midway through period two. A seven-play, 27-yard
drive resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by C.J. Croft. This pushed the lead to 20-0 with 7:28 left in the half. Bluffton went to the half
trailing the Panthers 20-0.
The Beavers put an end to their slow start offensively when Christopher Byrd (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Univ. Prep) connected with Shane Swisher (Findlay/McComb) for a 44-yard pass that put the Beavers on the Hanover one-yard
line. Byrd finished the drive by running the ball in for a touchdown. The Beavers
went into the last 15 minutes of play trailing 20-6, but starting to show some life
with the ball.
The Panthers started strong in the fourth quarter, as their first drive of the quarter
resulted in another one-yard scoring rush from Croft. The touchdown put the Panthers
up 27-6 with just under 12 minutes left to play. The Beavers put together a nice drive
to follow the touchdown as they went 55 yards on 13 plays before an incomplete pass
on fourth down gave the ball back to Hanover at their 25-yard line.
The Beaver defense was ready for the challenge on the next possession as they held
Hanover to negative yards thanks to a Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) sack for a four-yard loss. This gave the offense another
shot with just under seven minutes left in the game. Byrd led the Beavers down the
field, pounding the ball into the end zone from seven yards out with 4:11 left in
the game, making the score 27-13.
The Bluffton defense gave the offense another shot after Crosier forced a fumble on
the next drive. Byrd led the Beavers down the field again, and this time he connected
with Swisher for a 13-yard scoring strike. The touchdown brought the Beavers within
27-20 with just under two minutes left. Bluffton recovered the onside attempt following
the score, but were called for being offside and forced to kick again. This time the
Panthers recovered the ball. Hanover gained possession with 1:43 left in the game,
and took three kneeldowns as the Beavers had no timeouts remaining.
The offenses proved even as Bluffton outgained Hanover 265 to 260 yards. The Panthers
run game racked up 185 yards, while the Beavers were held to 116 yards. The Beavers
added 149 yards of passing, and the Panthers, who came into Bluffton averaging 239
yards through the air, were limited to 75. Both teams struggled holding onto the ball
as they each lost two fumbles. The Beavers proved more efficient on third downs, moving
the chains on seven of their 20 attempts, while holding the Panthers to four-of-17.
Bluffton was perfect in the red zone, scoring all three times. Hanover only managed
to score on three of their six opportunities.
Byrd led the Bluffton offense with 149 yards passing, completing 15-of-30 attempts.
He also led the rushing game with 73 yards and two touchdowns. Following Byrd was
Airic Steagall (Hillsboro) with 57 yards rushing on 14 carries. Leading the Beaver receivers was
Swisher with 57 yards and a touchdown on two catches. Steagall and Alexander Carter (Troy) each pulled in five catches for 28 and 29 yards, respectively.
The Bluffton defense was led by Crosier with 11 stops, including three for a loss,
and a forced fumble. Jacob Luthy (Ida, Mich./Ida) followed with 10 stops, three for a loss, Josh Runda (Lima/Bath) also added three tackles for a loss. Dominique Chester (Mansfield/Mansfield Comprehensive) pulled in an interception for the Beavers and
returned it 39 yards. Mark Herge (Elida), Stephen Miller (Logan) and Justin Hahn (Rocky River) all chipped in with six tackles.
The Beavers have a bye next week but will wrap up HCAC action on Saturday, November
13. They will host the Yellow Jackets of Defiance at Salzman Stadium. The contest
is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.