Bluffton 37, Trine 31
September 10, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
ANGOLA, Ind. - The Bluffton University football team took to the road as they faced the Trine University Thunder for just the third time in school history. A last-second hail mary by the Thunder was unsuccessful as the Beavers marched to a 37-31 win and 2-0 start to the season. It is the first time that Bluffton has defeated Trine and it is the first 2-0 start for the Beavers since 2004!.
The visitors were the first to score after DANTE CARROLL (Gahanna/Lincoln) broke through with a 25-yard gallop. The first of three fumbles by Trine gave the ball right back to Bluffton. The Beavers were able to take advantage of the turnover when MICAH ROBERSON (Ada) hauled in a one-handed catch off a slant from 18-yards out for the touchdown, making it 14-0 less than five minutes into the contest.
The Thunder made it 14-3 after LUCAS GARZA hit a 25-yard field goal with the first quarter winding down. An 8-yard touchdown pass by BRANDON ROOZE to ANDREW BONFIGLIO pulled Trine within four. With 13 seconds to go in the first half, COLBY SPEICE (Paulding/Wayne Trace) would find LUCAS ESPITIA (Lincoln Park, Mich./Lincoln Park) in the end zone to give the Beavers a 21-10 cushion going into halftime.
The Thunder would get the ball to start the second half and capped their 80-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by LAMAR CARSWELL, cutting Bluffton’s lead to 21-17. After a 52-yard touchdown pass by Rooze to JEFFERY BARNETT, the Thunder had their first lead of the game at 24-21 with 5:56 left in the third quarter.
Bluffton quickly responded, evening up the score at 24-24 after JORDAN WATKINS (Reynoldsburg) drilled a 35-yard field goal. With 12:08 remaining in the game, the Beavers regained the lead when Conner Sheehan connected with Raphael Dell (Cincinnati/Hughes) from five yards out to make it a 31-24 spread.
Trine came right back and scored a touchdown of their own after Carswell hit paydirt for his second touchdown of the day which tied it up, 31-31. Senior Dante Carroll held the trump card, however, as he took matters into his own hands, exploding for a 54-yard rushing touchdown to make it 37-31 with 6:39 remaining in regulation. A high snap led to a failed extra point attempt as the Beavers were stuck with a six-point lead.
A stop on fourth and seven, thanks to a clutch Ty White (Orville) breakup, helped the Beavers milk the clock to 46 seconds before Colby Speice pinned the Thunder at their own 2-yard line with a thing of beauty 46-yard punt by the QB on fourth and one! Trine moved the chains out to Bluffton’s 46-yard line where they would try for a last second prayer, but the Thunder was unable to convert when Andrew Bonfiglio couldn’t get his feet down in the end zone as time expired.
Leading the way for the Beavers was Conner Sheehan who connected on 14-of-19 passing for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Dante Carroll led the way on the ground, piling up 25 rushes for a career-best 183 yards while crossing the pylons twice. Micah Roberson hauled in seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown as he became the school’s all-time leader in career receptions (168), eclipsing the previous mark of 163, held by Eric Metz (1996-99). Raphael Dell caught four passes for 115 yards and a score.
JAKE HARMON (Van Wert/Crestview) piled up a team-high 12 tackles and BRAD TOPP (Carlisle) was right behind him with 11 stops. Ty White had eight tackles of his own and he added three pass breakups on the night.
Both offenses went for over 500 yards with Bluffton putting up 525, including 250 on the ground. The home team moved the chains nine more times (30-21), but Bluffton controlled the ball for over 31 minutes. Bluffton converted 8-of-17 third downs while allowing Trine just three third down conversions. The Beavers were a perfect 5-of-5 on red zone chances with four touchdowns and a field goal. Bluffton took advantage of three first quarter fumbles by the Thunder, jumping out to a 14-0 lead after only nine offensive plays.
Bluffton will host Mount St. Joseph on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 1:30 as they enter Heartland Conference play with hopes of extending their winning streak. Come out and support your Beavers!