Bluffton 44, Defiance 23
November 15, 2014
By: Griffin Kuras, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Beavers went into the 2014 finale looking for a fifth straight win against their arch rival from up north, the Defiance College Yellow Jackets. Bluffton’s Senior Day marked a bittersweet end for the 20 seniors as they handed the Yellow Jackets their fifth consecutive loss in the rivalry matchup.These seniors are the second straight Bluffton class with the satisfaction of never having to know what it feels like to lose to Defiance. With today’s victory, the Beavers moved to 6-4 on the season and 6-2 in the HCAC for their most-ever Heartland Conference victories. The Yellow Jackets closed out a year at 3-7 overall with a record of 3-5 in the conference. The win marks the most consecutive victories in the series since Bluffton won six in a row from 1985 through 1990. It also evened the all-time series at 44-44-2!
The Bluffton offense came out on fire, capping a quick five-play drive that started at their own 13-yard line with a touchdown strike to Jack Tomlinson (Westerville). The Beaver defense held up their end of the bargain, forcing their second straight three and out which gave Bluffton good field position to start their second possession. Following a slow methodical drive down the field, the Yellow Jacket defense held strong, forcing a field goal. Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) continued his stellar freshman year, knocking down a 25-yarder to end the first quarter. Watkins finished the year 8-for-10 on field goals and 30-of-31 on extra points.
The second quarter saw continued fireworks from the Beavers, as they put up another 13 points, but not before Defiance kicker Spencer Saunder (Springfield) punched through a 21-yard field goal to put the Jackets on the board. With 11:29 left to go in the first half, the Beavers showed off their powerful passing attack as two more 20 plus yard passes from Nick Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) to Tomlinson added up another six points as both were on the fast track to the record books. The visitors continued to struggle as sophomore Tyrone White (Orrville) picked off Alex Larson for his fifth interception of the season, giving Bluffton excellent field position. One play later, who else but Sheehan and Tomlinson hooked up for their third touchdown of the day on a quick slant strike.
Getting the ball to start the second half the Beavers didn’t miss a beat as two unsportsmanlike conducts penalties from senior linebacker Eric Strickland, which resulted in his ejection, set up the fourth connection between Tomlinson and Sheehan, moving Tomlinson into a select few to score four touchdowns in one game and the only receiver to do so. Not to be left out of the action, wideout Donovan Brown (Cincinnati/Purcell Marian) hauled in a strike from Sheehan for a 26-yard touchdown, giving the senior a Bluffton-record five touchdowns on the day.
The fourth quarter came with some entertaining football as the seniors got a chance to shine in their final minutes together. Senior quarterback Joel Unzicker (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) used his legs and the read option to drive the team down the field, setting up the surprise touchdown of the season as junior fullback Tyler Carroll (Napoleon) took his only carry of the year for a rumbling 10-yard touchdown.
Sheehan ended his career day with 287 yards on 20 completions out of 27 attempts for five touchdowns, adding another 40 yards on the ground. Capping his impressive senior season, running back Eric Fox (Brunswick) finished with 100 yards on the ground. Tomlinson ended with 10 catches for 157 yards and his record four receiving touchdowns. The standout senior equaled Eric Metz for #1 all-time with 62 catches this season and his 936 receiving yards place him 3rd on Bluffton's single season list. He also ended 2nd all-time with eight receiving touchdowns for the season.
Junior Miguel Alicia (Westerville) led the team in tackles with seven solos while White added another seven stops. Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria) had another busy day, harassing the opposing offense for 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL's, extending his single-season records in both categories (22 TFL's and 13 sacks). MatT Holden (Convoy/Crestview) and senior Hunter Bosch (Elida/Shawnee) chipped in with six stops apiece.