Bluffton 38, B-W 26
September 12, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team found the new turf to its liking as the Beavers had their way with Baldwin Wallace, 38-26, in the first game at Alumni Field on a beautiful Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the afternoon, Bluffton's offense moved up and down the field like the Beavers owned it. Bluffton evened its record at 1-1, while Baldwin Wallace heads to Ohio Northern next Saturday night with a 0-1 mark.
The Yellow Jackets came out and marched right down the field on a seven-play, 55-yard touchdown drive, capped off with an 8-yard touchdown run from signal-caller Tyler Moeglin to get B-W a quick 7-0 advantage. The Beavers tried to respond by covering 52 yards over 13 plays, but that drive ended as the Beavers threw an interception on 4th and 13, their only turnover of the contest. Following a Yellow Jacket punt, Bluffton cracked the scoreboard with a 67-yard drive, finishing with a 29-yard field goal from Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) and getting the home team within four points (7-3) with 13:12 to go in the half.
The teams exchanged punts before scoring picked up late in the half. Moeglin scored his second touchdown run of the game, this one from 13 yards out. A missed PAT kept the visitors’ lead at 13-3. Conner Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) directed the two-minute offense to perfection to end the stanza for the Beavers, as a 2-yard TD run from senior tailback Devante-Thomas Wright (Kings Clinton Twp., Mich./Chippewa Valley) helped Bluffton make it 13-10 at the break.
After trading three-and-outs to open the third, junior Dustin Fisher (St. Marys/Memorial) would finish off a 9-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge up the middle to give Bluffton its first lead of the day at 17-13. Another defensive stand for the Beavers led to a quick three-and-out, and Bluffton took advantage when Sheehan hit freshman Lorenzo McLaurin (Hilliard/Darby) for a 30-yard score and a 24-13 lead with 4:18 left in the third.
After Moeglin’s third touchdown scamper of the contest pulled the Yellow Jackets within four, Bluffton responded to open the final stanza when Sheehan would finish another eight-play drive by finding Micah Roberson (Ada) for the 31-20 lead. Baldwin-Wallace refused to quit, though, as they were able to score with 9:19 remaining, but missed the two-point conversion which kept it at 31-26. But the Beavers would finish the job, taking nearly five minutes off the clock on their final 40-yard scoring drive, culminating with a 12-yard toss from Sheehan to freshman wideout Raphael Dell(Cincinnati/Hughes) which put the Beavers on top by a 38-26 count. The Yellow Jackets attempted a final run, but on a fourth down a huge eight-yard sack from reigning HCAC Player of the Year Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate) ended the threat as the Beavers earned their first-ever victory over Baldwin Wallace!
A balanced offense was the key for Bluffton as it went for 460 yards with 196 on the ground and 264 through the air. Baldwin Wallace put up 428 total yards with 203 on the ground. The Beavers moved the chains 25 times, compared to 20 first downs for the visitors. The home team held the ball for just under 32 minutes thanks to 7-of-15 conversions on third down and 2-of-3 on fourth down. Bluffton scored all five times it hit the red zone, including four touchdowns.
Senior defensive end Ryan Aelker made his presence known early often, wrapping up a team-best eight tackles, that included two sacks. His 17-yarder stuffed Baldwin Wallace on a 3rd and 13 early in the second quarter and when he dropped Tyler Moeglin for an eight-yard loss on 4th and six, the Beavers got the ball back with 1:37 to play. Senior Brad Swavel also tallied eight stops in the victory. Senior Matt Holden (Convoy/Crestview) and freshmen David Wellborn (Reynoldsburg/Marion-Franklin) and Josh Griffin (Columbus/West) finished with seven tackles each. Freshmen end Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) got after the Yellow Jackets with a pair of quarterback hurries.
Junior Conner Sheehan directed Bluffton on six scoring drives, going 22-of-33 for 257 yards with three touchdown strikes against just one interception. His number one target and safety valve was junior standout Micah Roberson who hauled in a game-high 12 catches for 95 yards and a score. Freshman Raphael Dell caught six balls for 90 yards and the game-sealing touchdown. Fellow freshman Lorenzo McLaurin also snaked his way to a touchdown as he caught three tosses for 47 yards. Pacing the ground attack was senior Devante Thomas-Wright who churned out 103 yards on 20 runs, including a touchdown. Junior Dustin Fisher rolled off 71 yards rushing and a touchdown on just 11 touches.
Bluffton will enjoy its early bye week next Saturday before welcoming HCAC favorite Franklin for the conference lidlifter. The Heartland Conference contest to be staged at Alumni Field is slated for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. It will mark the first visit for the Grizzlies since Bluffton stunned them at Salzman Stadium two years ago. Come out and get the stadium thumping when the Beavers do battle with Franklin!