Mount St. Joseph 31, Bluffton 28
October 31, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Despite holding a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, five turnovers were too much to overcome as the Bluffton University Beavers fell at Mount St. Joseph on Saturday, Oct. 31, by a score of 31-28. MSJ’s Shane Kelly hit a 21-yard field goal with just 0:08 remaining to secure the win. The Lions improved to 5-3 and 5-2 in HCAC play, while the Beavers sit at 4-4 and 3-3 in the Heartland.
The Mount opened the scoring on Bluffton’s second drive of the game, as Nolan Miller picked up a fumble by Beaver signal-caller Colby Speice(Paulding/Wayne Trace) and returned it 93 yards for a score to give his team a 7-0 lead. The Bluffton offense responded on the following drive as Speice drove his team 69 yards, capping it with a 24-yard strike to freshman wideout Raphael Dell (Cincinnati/Hughes) and the game was tied at 7-7.
The defenses controlled the action over the next full quarter of action before Bluffton struck paydirt once again. This time, the Beavers took advantage of a bad punt and only had to drive 30 yards for a score, getting into the end zone on a 10-yard scoring scamper from Devante Thomas-Wright (Kings Clinton Twp., Mich./Chippewa Valley) and the visitors led 14-7 with 5:16 to play until the break. Both quarterbacks then exchanged interceptions before the Lions scored on a six-yard run from Mike Williams, finishing an 82-yard drive and tying it at 14-14. The Beavers moved the ball 55 yards in the last 1:12, but a missed 37-yard field goal kept the game tied at the break.
Bluffton took the opening drive of the third stanza 75 yards before Speice scored on a 10-yard run to take a quick 21-14 lead in the third. After the teams traded punts, the Beavers then used another long drive, 53 yards over 12 plays, and Thomas-Wright was able to deliver his second TD of the contest as Bluffton took a 28-14 lead after three periods.
That drive was followed by a Matt Holden (Convoy/Crestview) interception on the first play of the fourth quarter and the Beavers seemed to be in full control. But after a punt, MSJ went 80 yards in 2:56 to score on a 22-yard pass from Williams to Garrett Weaver and it was a seven-point game with 8:57 remaining. The following drive saw Speice get into Lion territory before throwing an interception, and the Lions scored on a 3-yard Williams touchdown run to tie it at 28-28 with 2:26 left. The Beavers started the next drive at their own 4 and got to the 28 before another pickoff handed MSJ the ball at the Beaver 35 with 48 ticks on the clock. A personal foul moved it to the 18 before a Charles McCrall 13-yard run on second down got them to the four, where Kelly hit the game-winner.
The Beavers dominated the game in total offense as Bluffton outgained the Lions, 436-307, while running 21 more plays. The Beavers also outgained the Lions 265-192 through the air and 171-115 on the ground. However, Bluffton’s five turnovers, including on the final two drives of the game, haunted the Beavers on Halloween. The Lions also finished with three turnovers. Bluffton committed 10 penalties for 77 yards, including the 15-yarder on the final drive.
Junior wideout Micah Roberson (Ada) had another big day for the Beavers, catching eight passes for 101 yards. Freshman Dell caught only two passes, but gained 80 yards and a score. Hauling in five receptions for 66 yards was freshman Lorenzo McLaurin (Hilliard/Darby). Speice finished the contest 18-of-37 for 265 yards with a rushing TD, a passing touchdown and four interceptions. MSJ quarterback Mike Williams went 12-of-29 for 192 yards with a score and two picks. He also ran for two more touchdowns.
The Bluffton defense was anchored by freshman linebacker David Wellborn (Reynoldsburg/Marion-Franklin), who finished with eight tackles, two TFL's, a sack and an interception. Senior Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) also had a big game with 3.5 TFL's and 1.5 sacks for the Beavers. Senior Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate) added 1.5 TFLs and a half-sack for the Beavers.
The Beavers return home for Senior Day, the home finale, as they take on the Anderson University Ravens on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Alumni Field!