Bluffton 35, Hiram 20
Beavers down Hiram, Brooks picks up first win as coach
By Ben Risinger, SID
September 13, 2003
HIRAM, OHIO - The Bluffton College football team (1-0) opened the 2003 campaign in full swing, with a 35-20 victory over Hiram. Head coach Greg Brooks picks up his first win at the helm of the Beavers. The win is the first opening game victory for Bluffton since 1999 when the Beavers defeated Bethany 35-14.
Bluffton threw out 447 total yards for the day, 241 rushing and 206 yards in the air. The Beavers posted all their five touchdowns from the ground. Senior Scott Flathers had three touchdowns for 38 yards on the day. Sophomore Ben Dodds led the Beavers in rushing with 127 yards and two touchdowns for the contest.
Sophomore Quarterback Jared Owens had a good showing for his first game at the helm of the passing game, posting 16 of 22 passes for 206 yards. Senior Jim Dwenger had six receptions for 107 yards to lead Bluffton's receiving corps.
Defensively BC was led by All-HCAC linebacker Chris Sommers. Sommers had 11 tackles on the day. Andy Tabler posted six tackles for the contest, with three tackles-for-loss for 17 yards.
"I thought we played the whole game," Brooks said. "Our conditioning and attitude really helped us not to quit at the end - that really made a big difference. We played our best football at the end of the game."
Both schools seemed to have a stalemate to start things off. Neither school found the end zone to finish the first quarter at zero apiece. The Beavers then posted the first score from a 4-yard Flathers run late in the first half to take a 7-0 lead going into halftime.
Hiram came back with 5:35 left in the third quarter to tie the game at seven all. Bluffton answered right back late in the quarter to take the lead 13-7 after Matt Cooper found his PAT kick blocked.
Things finally started to take off in the fourth quarter when Hiram scored at the eight minute mark to take the lead 14-13. Late in the game the Beavers found themselves down, only to take the lead with 2:47 left in the contest when Flathers posted a 5-yard run to take the lead back 21-14 after Owens found Dwenger in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Bluffton's next two touchdowns came off of critical fumbles by the Hiram offense. The first fumble occurred with only 2:30 left in the game at Hiram's own 45 yard line. Six plays later Flathers scored his third touchdown of the game to take the score to 28-14. Less than a minute later the Terriers fumbled the ball again deep within their own territory at the 25 yard line. Two plays later Dodds found the end zone for his second touchdown of the game off of a 21-yard run. The kick by Cooper put widened the score once more to 35-14. Hiram would score again with only 15 seconds left to finish the game, 35-20.
"We really worked hard and played through the mistakes we made," Brooks said. "We had a lot of guys on the field for the first time ever today and they did a really good job. Next week we'll look for more consistency offensively."
Next Saturday the Beavers open their home campaign against Thiel College. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Bluffton will honor former head coach Carlin Carpenter at the game with festivities beginning before the game and a reception honoring the coach and his wife at 6:30 p.m. in Yoder Hall.