Bluffton 49, Wilmington 20
September 3, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team kicked off its 2016 season against Wilmington College, looking to avenge last year’s 14-10 loss. The Beavers did that and then some as they defeated the Quakers, 49-20, notching their first win of the season (1-0). It also marked the first win by Bluffton in a season opener since a 20-0 shutout of Kenyon College in 2012.
Bluffton would get on the board first after senior CONNER SHEEHAN (Monroeville, IN/Heritage) connected with MICAH ROBERSON (Ada) for a 15-yard TD. Wilmington answered with a score of their own just three plays later when Gino Hinton broke out for a 68-yard run to even up the score. With 7:09 left in the first quarter, RAPHAEL DELL (Cincinnati/Hughes) pulled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Sheehan to make it a 14-7 ballgame.
The Beavers opened up a 21-7 lead after COLBY SPEICE (Paulding/Wayne Trace) found Roberson for his second score of the day on a short slant from 32-yards out to start the second quarter. Senior DANTE CARROLL (Gahanna/Lincoln) sliced into the end zone from 8-yards out, making the score 28-7. With 2:19 remaining in period two, Speice hit DONOVAN STITH (Tiffin/Calvert) in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown as Bluffton would take a commanding 35-7 lead going into the break.
The Beavers added to their lead in the second half less than five minutes in following another Speice to Dell scoring strike. A 42-yard touchdown run by Luke Creditt of Wilmington made the score 42-14 with 8:18 to go in the third. Sophomore quarterback BRANDON KOCH (West Harrison, Ind./East Central) took a 24-yard touchdown to the house, giving the home team a 49-14 cushion. The Quakers would get their final points of the game on a 1-yard rush by Chase Manica but the visitors were unable to convert on the extra point as Bluffton wrapped up the 49-20 shellacking.
Leading the way under center was Conner Sheehan who connected on 8-of-14 passing for 128 yards with three touchdown passes. Colby Speice did nice work as well, going 5-of-7 for 56 yards and two scores.
Micah Roberson led the way receiving, hauling in six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Dell, Stith and Espita each collected two receptions on the afternoon. Sophomore Drake Campbell (Trenton/Edgewood) got it done on the ground, rushing for 59 yards on just nine carries.
Bluffton put together 417 yards of total offense with a balanced attack of 224 yards rushing and 193 yards passing. The Beavers were bringing the heat defensively as they forced three turnovers and got to the quarterback six times. AARON LETINSKI (Allen Park, Mich.Allen Park) led the way on defense with three tackles for loss and a total of seven stops. ISAAC ZICKAFOOSE (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) had six tackles, including a sack. Brad Topp (Carlisle) finished with three tackles, all behind the line of scrimmage for 15 yards of losses, including two huge sacks! Seniors Trent Long (Elida) and Tyrone White (Orrville) both picked off passes for the Beavers.
Bluffton will look to keep the momentum rolling when the Beavers travel to face Trine under the lights next Saturday at 6 p.m. in Angola, Ind.