Beavers travel to Wabash for key HCAC matchup

By Tim Stried, SID

October 6, 1999

Bluffton College, 3-1 overall, 0-1 HCAC

Wabash College, 2-2 overall, 2-0 HCAC

 

In a must-win game for two schools with HCAC championship aspirations, Bluffton College will travel to Crawfordsville, Indiana Saturday to take on the Little Giants of Wabash College. Both teams aim to be in the running for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship when the regular season concludes on November 13, but October 9 could go a long way to deciding who will represent the HCAC in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

If this year's game is anything like last year's contest in Bluffton, then fans will find themselves on their feet most of the game. The Beavers took Wabash into overtime in 1998 but fell to the eventual HCAC champions by the final of 34-28. It was the first overtime game in BC football history as the homecoming crowd oversaw the action.

Bluffton is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Hanover College last Saturday, as the Panthers came from behind in the final minute to steal the victory 41-38. Several highlights came out of the game, however, as wide receiver Eric Metz set a BC single game record with 237 yards receiving. He caught nine passes on the day, including a Salzman Stadium record 77 yard touchdown hookup from Joel Parrett. Defensive back Jarrett Smotrila was named the HCAC Defensive Player of the Week as he recorded 10 tackles, an interception and a blocked extra point attempt. Parrett and the offensive line were named the NCAA Division III national team of the week, while Parrett, Metz and Smotrila were honorable mention choices for the USA Football Magazine players of the week. Parrett was 22-28 passing for 411 yards and three touchdowns last week.

BC held leads over Wabash last season by scores of 14-10 in the second quarter and 21-16 in the third quarter. Beaver running back Kolin Boyd scored on a one yard TD run with 54 seconds remaining in the game to force overtime, but Wabash quarterback Brandon Arsmstrong scored the game winning TD in overtime on a one yard plunge.

Tyson Goings rushed for 117 yards in last season's game, while Parrett was 17-29 passing for 207 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Metz did not play in the game as he was recovering from an injured shoulder. Jon Spradling caught four passes for 78 yards and a TD, while Evan Ward caught four passes for 44 yards. Smotrila blocked an extra point attempt and broke up a pass against the Little Giants last season, while Jon Richardson forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Shawn Goetz and Jeremy Arend both recorded nine tackles in the game.

Wabash started out the 1999 season with two losses, at home against Ohio Northern University 38-6 and on the road at Washington, Missouri 24-20. Since then they have won two games, both of which were conference games, first at Mount St. Joseph 34-21 followed by last week's 31-13 victory over Anderson.

The Wabash defense returns honors candidate B.J. Hammer on the defensive line. Wabash is starting freshmen at two key positions, though, as Ryan Sands will be starting at middle linebacker and Jake Knott will be starting at quarterback. The Little Giants are averaging 361.5 yards per game in 1999 and allowing 314.5. The passing game is accounting for most of those yards, as Knott has passed for 914 yards and eight touchdowns. He has seven interceptions, though, and is completing just 48.4% of his passes.

In Division III national statistics, BC quarterback Joel Parrett is tops in the country in completion percentage at 73.0%. He is third in the country in efficiency rating at 186.7 behind Gary Smeck of Mount Union and Tim Brylka of Millikin. Tyson Goings is 20th in the NCAA in rushing yards per game at 127.3 and ninth in scoring per game at 13.0 points per game. Joel and Tyson are tops in the HCAC in each of those categories, while Eric Metz leads the league in receiving yardage per game at 123.3.

The Beavers dropped to #41 in the latest AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll, while Hanover jumped to #21.

 

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