Bluffton 31, Rose-Hulman 13
Beavers maul Rose-Hulman 31-13 for fourth straight victory
October 22, 2011
By: Josh Bruner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football hosted the Engineers of Rose-Hulman on Saturday, Oct. 22, for Senior Day. The Beavers came out of the gate with a fury, putting up 17 of their 24 first half points in the opening quarter, while holding the Engineers scoreless. Rose finally found its rhythm in the third period, putting up 13 while holding Bluffton scoreless to make it 24-13. Bluffton sealed it with another touchdown in the final stanza for their fourth straight victory which gave the seniors a 31-13 win in their final game at Salzman Stadium.
It marks the first time since the 2000 campaign that a Bluffton football team has won four consecutive games. Bluffton moved to .500 on the season with a 4-4 record and their 4-2 HCAC mark places them third in the Heartland Conference. RHIT fell to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in the HCAC. It also marked the first-ever win over Rose-Hulman after seven consecutive setbacks.
The Bluffton offense wasted no time moving the ball down the field as Chris Byrd (Detroit, Mich./Detroit University Prep) connected with Todd Trotter (Cincinnati/Aiken University) for 56 yards to the Rose 11 on the second play of the game. The Engineer defense did not break and it forced Bluffton into a 22-yard field goal. Bluffton took a 3-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the first.
The teams both struggled to move the chains over the next 10 minutes. Bluffton finally opened it back up with a 68-yard Byrd touchdown run up the middle as Rose came with a full blitz, pushing the lead to 10-0 with two minutes left in the quarter. Less than two minutes later following a turnover on downs, Byrd hit Jason G. Johnson (Lansing, Mich./Lansing Eastern) on a flea-flicker for a 43-yard touchdown pass as the first quarter came to a close with Bluffton on top, 17-0.
An Oscar Vazquez-Dyer (Findlay/Carey) pickoff with just under 14 minutes left in quarter two gave Bluffton the ball at the home 48-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Byrd found Trotter for a 49-yard hookup and Airic Steagall (Hillsboro) pounded it in from three yards out to make it 24-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter. Bluffton's defense controlled RHIT as the Beavers took their 24-0 lead into the half.
The home defense continued to shine as it forced two consecutive three-and-outs from the Engineers to open the second half. Rose-Hulman finally found its groove midway through the third, putting it in the endzone for the first time at the six-minute mark. RHIT forced a three-and-out following the touchdown and the Engineer offense went 64 yards in seven plays to make the score 24-13 with just two minutes left in the quarter.
A Birchel Ralph (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) interception on Bluffton's own five-yard line kept the visitors from pulling within one score with 12:28 to play. Steagall put an end to the scoring drought when he rumbled for 30 yards and a touchdown on just four carries. The score iced the fourth consecutive win for the Beavers, giving Bluffton a 31-13 lead with just four minutes left to play.
The offenses proved even in the game as the Beavers had the slight advantage (384-378) in total yards, however, the home team parlayed a 304-108 advantage in the first 30 minutes into a 24-0 halftime lead. The Beavers dominated on the ground, powering for 188 yards and limiting Rose to just 125. The difference proved to be big plays and interceptions as Bluffton stopped the visitors with three pickoffs in the game. The Beavers were more efficient on third down, moving the chains on 5-of-17 attempts. The Engineers only converted on 3-of-16 attempts.
The Beaver offense was led by Byrd who completed 9-of-17 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. He also added 94 yards on the ground with one touchdown. Sophomore tailback Airic Steagall went for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Leading the Bluffton receivers was Trotter with five receptions for 117 yards. Johnson added three catches for 56 yards and a score.
The Bluffton defense was spearheaded by Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) with nine stops, including 3.5 TFL's. Fellow seniors Challen Stewart (Antwerp), Geoff Yost (North Canton/Jackson), Shane Hubbard (Johnstown/Big Walnut), and Jake Luthy (Ida, Mich./Ida) all added six tackles for Bluffton. The home team limited RHIT standout tailback Kyle Kovach, who came in averaging a shade under 115 yards per game, to 67 yards on 21 carries.
The Beavers look to continue the streak when they travel to Hanover next Saturday, Oct. 29, for a crucial HCAC matchup with the 4-3 (4-1) Panthers. The contest is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.