Bluffton 44, Anderson 0
November 7, 2015
By: Griffin Kuras, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team took the field for Senior Day against the Anderson Ravens on a chilly November 7, 2015. The Beavers jumped out quickly and never looked back, rolling to a fourth straight shutout of the Ravens and fifth consecutive victory over Anderson. The final score was a blowout for the Beavers as they capped off their first season on Alumni Field with the 44-0 win. Anderson fell to 2-7 overall and 2-5 in the HCAC while Bluffton moved past .500 as the Beavers improved to 5-4 overall with a 4-3 record in the conference.
The first drive for the Ravens ended abruptly as back-to-back sacks from Issac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) and a tag team sack from Ryan Aelker-Gustwiller (New Bavaria/Holgate) and Hayden Thomas (Perrysburg) forced a quick three-and-out. The Beaver offense started fast, needing just two plays to hit paydirt on a swing pass out to Lorenzo McLaurin (Hilliard/Darby) for a 45-yard strike. The offensive woes continued for Anderson as their next drive ended with four plays for only two yards. The first quarter scoring came to a close with a two-yard rushing touchdown for Devante Thomas-Wright (Clinton Twp., Mich./Chippewa Valley).
The second quarter started with a Raven punt which Bluffton handed back with a fumble, but Anderson was unable to capitalize as Tyrone White (Orrville) made a great play for his first interception on the game. The Beavers were backed up on their own 1-yard line, however, the home team put together a spectacular drive, stringing together big passing plays from Colby Speice (Paulding/Wayne Trace) to Raphael Dell (Cincinnati/Hughes) and McLaurin, who found the end zone for the second time on a 39-yard pass down the middle after weaving between two defenders, capping off an 8-play, 99-yard drive. It didn’t take long for the third touchdown connection between Speice and McLaurin as the two hooked up for a 16-yard TD on the next Beaver drive. The half came to a close on a 27-yard field goal from Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) for a commanding 30-0 lead at the break.
The second half began with two completions to sophomore standout Micah Roberson (Ada) for 12-yards which put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Roberson is just 50 yards away from Eric Metz's school record 1,063 receiving yards set in 1999. After being stopped a few times, Bluffton was able to take advantage of a short field and Thomas-Wright needed just three carries for 34 yards, including the 27-yard scamper to paydirt, making it 37-0 with 4:09 left in the third stanza. Bluffton wrapped up the scoring early in the fourth quarter with a wildcat snap taken directly by Thomas-Wright for a one-yard touchdown carry, his third of the day.
The Beavers were outstanding on both sides of the ball, putting up all kinds of gaudy numbers on Senior Day. Speice was 20-of-33 for 300 yards with three touchdowns and the one interception. The carries were split by Thomas-Wright and Dante Carroll (Gahanna). Thomas-Wright rushed 18 times for 69 yards and three touchdowns, while Carroll handled it 14 times for 85 yards. Roberson hauled in nine more catches for 76 yards, boosting his season totals to a whopping 88 catches and 1013 receiving yards. He was honored prior to the game for breaking the 16-year old record for season catches which was previously held by Eric Metz (62) and Jack Tomlinson. McLaurin caught eight passes on the game for a huge total of 159 yards and three scores.
The defense made huge plays throughout he game in order to keep the shutout streak alive, but nobody had a bigger day than Zickafoose with his eight tackles, three sacks and four TFL’s. His sacks set Anderson back 30 yards, while his four TFL's went for 36 in reverse. Senior Edgar Gonzalez (Melvindale, Mich.) added a sack and Thomas finished with two tackles and an assisted sack. Aelker-Gustwiller continued his record-setting season with five tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL’s. He broke his own records as the 2014 HCAC Defensive Player of the Year is up to 14.5 sacks and 22.5 TFL's this season. White was unable to crack the tackles column, but he did his part with two pickoffs on the afternoon. Senior Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) wrapped up seven stops in his final game at Alumni Field.
Bluffton dominated the statistics with 550 yards of offense, compared to just 83 yards for the Ravens. The Beavers limited AU to -9 yards rushing. It marked the first time since joining the HCAC that a Bluffton defense held an opponent to negative yardage on the ground. The 83 total yards given up was the best defense since Hiram went for 67 yards in 2002. Bluffton rolled off 234 yards on the ground to go along with 316 yards passing. The Beavers moved the chains 25 times, compared to just six first downs for the visitors. The home team controlled the clock (37:176-22:44) and the Beavers were 10-of-18 on third down conversions.
With the game over, there was one more surprise for Senior Day as starting offensive lineman ColtEn Kelso (Coshocton/River View), surrounded by his teammates, asked Raven Wilson to be his bride. And she responded YES to the jubilation of everyone on the field and in the stands! Congratulations to both Colton and Raven as they capped off a memorable Senior Day in which Bluffton's seniors went four years without surrendering a point to Anderson!
Bluffton hits the road to finish out the season against the Defiance College Yellow Jackets next weekend. The rivalry contest for 'The Hammer' is set for Saturday Nov., 14, with the kickoff slated for 1:30 p.m.