Rose-Hulman 28, Bluffton 27
October 10, 2015
By: Griffin Kuras, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Beaver football team hosted Heartland Conference heavyweight Rose-Hulman at Salzman Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 10, as the showcase piece of Homecoming 2015 on the campus of Bluffton University. The Beavers fell to 2-3 overall with a 1-2 mark in the HCAC following a heartbreaking 28-27 setback. RHIT improved to an impressive 5-0 overall with a spotless 3-0 record in the conference.
The game started quickly as Bluffton took the opening drive all the way down for a touchdown on a double reverse play to Lorenzo McLaurin (Hilliard/Darby) who scooted 36 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season. The Engineers were able to respond, showing off their quick strike offense with a nine-play, 65 yard drive in 2:36 for a two-yard touchdown run. Less than five minutes later, a 13-yard touchdown strike from Austin Swenson to Jacob Dye capped another quick drive which lasted only 1:01, making the score 14-7 Rose at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Bluffton attempt to regain the momentum as Tyrone White (Orrville) was able to pick off Swenson and return the ball all the way to the three-yard line, giving the Beaver offense the perfect opportunity to tie the game up. Devante Thomas-Wright (Kings Clint.Twp., Mich./Chippewa Valley) was able to smash through the line of scrimmage for six points. The Engineers would not let up as the passing attack continued to yield big plays for Rose after they hit paydirt on a 40-yard connection through the middle of the field when Aaron Abbott was able to shake a few defenders as he got free while making the score 21-14 at the break.
The only points scored in the third quarter were from the Engineers as they started their drive with great field position after a muffed punt. A short hookup from Swenson saw Moehrle take a swing pass in for another touchdown with 6:12 left to go in the third stanza. The fourth quarter was an intense one as the Bluffton offense attempted to mount a 14-point comeback. The Beavers passing attack took center stage, capping off an 80-yard drive as Connor Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) was able to loft one to McLaurin in the back corner of the end zone. McLaurin jumped up and reached around the defender to come down with the ball for a touchdown. The Beaver defense held strong for the entire fourth quarter, including a five-play drive that started with a 50-yard pass and ended with a turnover on downs after a huge third down sack from Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate).
The Bluffton offense wasn’t finished as they had 2:20 to drive 88 yards for a potential tie or win. After a few big pass plays from Sheehan to Korbin Showalter (Haviland/Wayne Trace), Micah Roberson (Ada) and Raphael Dell (Cincinnati/Hughes) the Beavers were able to complete the drive with 15 seconds left in the game! Sheehan found Dell in the back of the end zone. The Bluffton coaches elected to go for two to win the game, attempting to use the momentum to their advantage. The game came down to one snap as the play action pass to Aelker was intercepted as the Engineers were able to hang on in the end.
Thomas-Wright ended the game with 91 yards on 21 attempts for one touchdown. The passing attack was alive for Bluffton as the receivers continued their superb play. Roberson was able to cap off another strong performance with 11 catches for 125 yards. He is just seven catches shy of tying Bluffton's single-season record (62) set by Eric Metz and Jack Tomlinson. McLaurin hauled in six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Dell and Showalter were able to contribute four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and three catches for 65 yards, respectively. Sheehan had a strong game, throwing for 274 yards and two touchdowns while going 20-30 on the day; his only blemish was the three interceptions.
The defense had a strong second half, allowing only the one touchdown on a short field while giving the offense the opportunity to get the win. David Wellborn (Reynoldsburg/Marion-Franklin) and Linkoln LaRoche (Dola/Hardin Northern) led the Beavers with 10 tackles apiece.White tallied three total tackles and his interception which he returned for 59 yards. Aelker wrapped up another sack and three tackles-for-loss along with a pass deflection and five total tackles.
Bluffton controlled the clock, with six more minutes of possession, but five turnovers proved too much to overcome. The Beavers were 10-of-18 on third down and outgained the visitors by a 481-439 margin. Bluffton moved the chains 22 times and completed 25 passes for 333 passing yards.
The Beavers will be at home again next weekend as they take on The Earlham College Quakers at Alumni Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17.