Beavers remain perfect, whip GCC 30-22
By Tim Stried, SID
September 19, 1999
Although the scoreboard separated Bluffton College and Grove City College by just eight points Saturday, witnesses in Salzman Stadium will likely recount of a game dominated by the Beavers. And with the statistics as an impartial judge, the witnesses are right. In any case, however, BC is 3-0.
Taking a 30-22 victory over the Wolverines, Bluffton now has an off-week before beginning their league schedule in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference at home against nationally ranked Hanover College on October 2. To enter the HCAC undefeated, however, meant getting around the strong Grove City defense and holding down All-America running back R.J. Bowers. And the Beavers did just that.
Junior running back Tyson Goings (Defiance/Wayne Trace) won the battle of the running backs Saturday, as he cranked out 164 yards rushing on 34 carries and scored three touchdowns. The Beaver defense held Bowers to 124 yards on 29 carries and forced the Wolverines to the air, where GCC quarterback Steve Lacinski threw two interceptions, picked off by senior Shawn Goetz (Lima/Bath) and junior Jeff Company (Bloomington, Ill/LeRoy). "Our swarm defense was a big key," said senior outside linebacker Jeremy Arend (Carey), who totaled eight solo tackles on the day, in mentioning the wing-T stopping defense. "Coach Jackson [BC linebackers coach Ron Jackson] put in that defense, and we kept up the intensity the whole game," continued Arend.
BC senior quarterback Joel Parrett had another big day for BC, passing for 309 yards and a touchdown, completing 18 of 27 passes and rushing for 20 yards and another TD. Senior Eric Metz (Norwalk/St. Paul) had a season-high eight catches for 147 yards, while senior tight end Evan Ward (Carey) caught four passes for 102 yards, including a 52 yard touchdown.
Opening the holes and providing protection for the backs is BC's veteran offensive line, led by senior center Clint Fox. "Everybody has experience this year," said Fox, "and that's making us more capable of handling situations we've seen before." As the BC offense rolled out 540 more yards in offense Saturday, the offensive line looked like they'd been working against Grove City all season. "We really studied what they do and we've seen it before," commented Fox. "Knowing what their defensive schemes were enabled us to block anything they presented to us."
Although neither team dented the scoreboard in the first quarter, Bluffton showed it was the team in control. BC put together two nine-play drives and held the ball for almost 12:00 while GCC went three-and-out on their first possession and managed just one first down the rest of the first session. As the Wolverines opened the second quarter with the football, though, they fashioned a nine play drive of their own, with Bowers carrying the ball for eight of those plays and making a nine yard reception for the other. The drive was highlighted by a 53 yard scamper by Bowers down to the Bluffton 2 yard line, and two plays later the 6-1 240 pound fullback hit pay dirt to put GCC up 6-0. The extra point attempt failed as the Beaver offense prepared to answer.
And that answer came from a host of players. With Goings, senior Paul Risner (Bellefontaine/Versailles) and freshman Steve Henry (Versailles) carrying the ball and Parrett connecting through the air, BC tied the score with the option as Goings took the pitch from Parrett and outran a host of GCC defenders 15 yards into the endzone to knot the score at 6-6. The extra point attempt was no good, but the touchdown was the first of three in a row for the Beavers as the BC defense continued to hold Bowers to his smallest offensive output in two years.
Goings capped the first half scoring with a two yard run with just 1:15 left in the half. GCC made a furious effort to go into the locker room with another touchdown, but their efforts were thwarted as Shawn Goetz made a leaping interception and returned it 22 yards to end the threat.
Bluffton held GCC on a third and three to open the third quarter, then went on a 10 play, 80 yard drive highlighted by a 42 yard hookup from Parrett to Metz. Goings capped the drive with a five yard run at the 8:25 mark, although the PAT lateral was picked up by the Wolverines and returned 97 yards for two points. Bluffton held the lead 18-8, but then surrendered a touchdown to GCC with 1:37 left in the third quarter as the Wolverines brought the score to within three at 18-15.
Grove City pinned BC deep in their own territory to open the fourth quarter and forced the Beavers to punt. Parrett's punt was mishandled by the Wolverine return man, though, and coming up with the loose ball was sophomore Casey Harrington (Plymouth). Bluffton took advantage of the turnover and continued on their march to the goal line, this time capped by a one-yard sneak by Parrett and BC led 24-15 with 8:05 left in the game.
The BC defense held Grove City to two straight three-and-out possessions and ended a third drive as Jeff Company picked off his second pass of the season and returned it eight yards. The Beaver offense then struck quickly as Evan Ward hauled in a Parrett pass and outran the Wolverine defense down the left sideline for a 52 yard touchdown at the 4:04 mark. With BC up 30-15, however, GCC returned the kickoff to the Bluffton 12 yard line and three plays later Michael Orlando went in for six points to bring the score to 30-22 with 3:23 remaining in the game. Bluffton recorded three consecutive first downs to run out the clock and put BC at 3-0 for the first time since 1988.
Junior inside linebacker Greg Ditz (Willard) and senior outside linebacker Jeremy Arend (Carey) both had outstanding days for the Beaver defensive unit. Ditz tallied eight solo tackles, six assists and had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage for seven yards. Arend also recorded eight solo tackles and added two assists and two tackles for loss for six yards. Senior defensive back Jarret Smotrila (Leetonia/Crestview) switched from a pass-stopper to a run-stopper on Saturday with seven solo stops, two assists and one hit behind the line for a four yard loss.
All BC has done so far this year is average 532 yards per game in total offense, score 17 touchdowns, hold opponents to 280 yards per game and force 10 turnovers. R.J. Bowers did tie an NCAA record in Grove City's losing effort, however, as he recorded his 19th straight 100 yard rushing game, tying the mark set by Brandon Steinheim of Wesley set during the 1995-1996 seasons.
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