Bluffton 24, Earlham 22
October 18, 2014
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
RICHMOND, Ind. - The Bluffton University Beavers used a second half rally to come back and defeat the Earlham College Quakers, 24-22, on Saturday, Oct. 18. The Beavers went to the locker room at halftime trailing 20-7, but outscored the Quakers 17-2 in the second half to squeak out of Richmond with a victory. Bluffton stays in a tie for third place in the HCAC with a 3-1 mark and 3-3 overall. The Quakers dropped to 0-7 and 0-5 in HCAC play.
The Beavers came out of the gates slowly, committing two turnovers, a fumble and an interception, on their first two drives of the contest. Following the interception, the Quakers obtained possession at the 1-yard line and were able to score on their first play from scrimmage to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The visitors opened the second stanza on a bright note, as a bad snap from the Quakers on a punt got Bluffton in great field position at the Earlham 27 yard line. A big third and 10 pass from Nick Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) to fellow senior Donovan Brown (Cincinnati/Purcell Martin) got Bluffton on the board and tied the Quakers 7-7.
A big play for Earlham midway through the second quarter made the score 13-7, as Brennan Laird connected with Malik Reed for a 76-yard score to give the home team a 13-7 advantage. Earlham’s ensuing possession, following a Bluffton three and out, went for 11 plays and 79 yards, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run for Laird and making the score 20-7 at the break.
Bluffton came out of the locker room with a huge answer on the first drive of the second half, a 58-yard touchdown pass from Sheehan to Jack Tomlinson (Westerville/South), pulling the Beavers within six points early in the third. Bluffton would squander away a chance to take the lead on their next possession when the visitors fumbled the ball at the Earlham nine-yard line.
Following a series of punts to end the third quarter, Bluffton would drive 75 yards in eight plays, ending with an 18-yard touchdown run by Dante Carroll (Gahanna/Lincoln) which gave the Beavers their first lead of the game at 21-20. On Earlham's next touch, the Quakers turned the ball over on downs. Bluffton drove to the Earlham three yard line before a pass interference penalty pushed them back to the 18. Forced to settle for a crucial Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) 36-yard field goal, Bluffton pushed its lead to four points.
Earlham took over with 4:06 on the clock and drove to the Bluffton 12-yard line on fourth down. Quaker quarterback Brennan Laird completed a pass to Jalen KeNNer who was stopped at the one yard line giving the ball back to the Beavers. Bluffton tried to work the clock, but backed up deep in enemy territory, Sheehan took the safety to avoid further damage. Earlham took over at its 24-yard line, but Bluffton’s Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate)pounced on the fumble that was forced by freshman Ollie Moorer (Warrensville Heights), sealing the Beaver victory!
The statistical categories were as even as you would expect in a two-point game. Earlham outgained the Beavers, 418-389, but the visitors garnered two more first downs. Bluffton also committed three turnovers to only one for the Quakers. Another key to victory for the Beavers was their 75 percent connection on fourth down opportunities, converting three out of four.
The Beavers were led by senior quarterback Nick Sheehan as he went 15-for-27 for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Jack Tomlinson caught five passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.
The defense led the way for the visitors as Tyrone White (Orrville), Ryan Leopold (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf), and Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) tallied seven tackles apiece. Freshman Oliver Moorer ended with four sacks on the contest for 19 yards lost, as well as the forced fumble that sealed victory for the Beavers. Aelker chipped in with four tackles, including two sacks for a loss of 21 yards.
Bluffton is back in action next Saturday, Oct. 25, as they return to Salzman Stadium to take on the Manchester University Spartans. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Come support your Beavers!