Bluffton 35, Defiance 14
November 14, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team continued its recent dominance of rival Defiance with a convincing 35-14 victory over the Yellow Jackets on a sunny Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. It marked the sixth straight victory over Defiance, equaling the run from 1985-1990 that was the second-most consecutive Bluffton victories in the series. The Beavers won 11 straight from 1955 through 1965. Bluffton wrapped up its season at 6-4 (5-3 HCAC) for the second year in a row under Head Coach Denny Dorrel. Defiance fell to 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the Heartland. The 22 victories put up by the senior class were the most since the 2001 seniors went 24-16. The 2015 seniors were also the third straight class to go undefeated in the Bluffton-Defiance rivalry!
Bluffton started with the football and marched right down the field, needing only nine plays to drive 70 yards to score, including a 31-yard touchdown run by Devante Thomas-Wright (Kings Clint. Twp./Chippewa Valley) which gave Bluffton a 7-0 lead. The defenses then made their presence known, as the teams exchanged punts all the way until late in the second stanza when Bluffton took over in the Defiance red zone after a fumble recovered by Jake Harmon (Van Wert/Crestview). The Beavers capitalized as Thomas-Wright’s 16-yard scoring scamper put the visitors up, 14-0. After a quick three and out, Bluffton got the ball back on their own 16 and drove 84 yards to score on a 1-yard run from Colby Speice (Wayne Trace), giving the Beavers a 21-0 halftime advantage.
The home team came out of the lockerroom fired up and they finished a quick three-play, 61-yard drive with a score that cut the Beaver lead to 21-7. But Bluffton responded and Speice finished with his second touchdown run of the game, this one a 44-yarder which made the score 28-7. The Yellow Jackets would get the ball back and stay hot, gaining 73 yards on 11 plays, taking 6:56 off the clock in cutting the Bluffton lead to 28-14 after three periods.
The Beavers and Jackets exchanged punts to begin the fourth quarter, but Bluffton was able to finish the job on the ensuing drive. Junior Dustin Fisher (St Marys/Memorial) gave the Beavers their fifth rushing score of the game, this one a 28-yarder which put Bluffton up 35-14, icing the contest for the Beavers.
The Beavers dominated DC on offense, outgaining the Yellow Jackets 370-211. Bluffton’s big edge was in the passing game with a 196-79 advantage even though all five touchdowns came on the ground. The Beavers also capitalized on three Defiance turnovers, compared to the single interception thrown by Speice. Bluffton controlled the clock with nearly 33 minutes of possession, but both teams struggled on third down. The Beavers were 6-of-14, while Defiance converted 5-of-14 chances.
Senior Devante Thomas-Wright finished off his senior campaign in style, rushing for 66 yards on just 13 carries with two touchdowns, Thomas-Wright hit paydirt five times in the past two games after rushing for three scores on Senior Day against Anderson. Colby Speice added 58 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including a 44-yard score that answered Defiance's first score early in the second half. Fisher churned out 41 yards on five carries, including a 28-yard touchdown that made the score 35-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
Colby Speice was efficient behind center, completing 20-of-29 passes for 198 yards with one interception. Sophomore wideout Micah Roberson (Ada) finished off his record-breaking season catching 12 passes for 83 yards. The 12 receptions gave him 100 for the season, crushing the previous single season record of 62 held by Eric Metz (1999) and Jack Tomlinson (2014). He also surpassed the school record (1.063) for receiving yards in a season which was also held by Eric Metz. Roberson finished with 1.096 receiving yards this season. He is now second on the all-time receptions list with 155 after two seasons, just eight from all-time leader Eric Metz (163). Defiance quarterback Andre Adderly hit on just 8-of-20 for 79 yards, but he also gained 68 yards on 17 carries to lead the Yellow Jacket ground attack.
The defense for the visitors was anchored by seniors Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) and Matt Holden (Convoy/Crestview), each finishing with seven tackles for the victors. Freshman Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) capped off a superb freshman campaign with a team-leading two TFLs and a sack. Senior Ryan Aelker-Gustwiller (New Bavaria/Holgate) added six tackles, two forced fumbles, 1.5 TFLs and a sack, giving him a Bluffton record 15.5 sacks and 24 TFL's this season.
Bluffton put together its second straight six-win season under Head Coach Denny Dorrel, the first time the Beavers have had consecutive winning seasons since 2000-01! With the season complete, the Heartland Conference will announce its post-season awards on Wednesday, Nov. 18, following voting by the head coaches.