Franklin 31, Bluffton 7
Grizzlies remain unbeaten as they rout Bluffton in 2006 HCAC opener, 31-7
September 30, 2006
FRANKLIN, Ohio - A first half that saw the Franklin College Grizzlies control the ball for a stunning 22 minutes proved to be the difference as the Bluffton University football team fell in its Heartland Conference opener by a score of 31-7. With the loss, Bluffton drops to 1-3 overall, 0-1 in the HCAC while Franklin keeps its record perfect at 4-0. The Grizzlies won their fourth straight game for the first time since 1981 when they opened the season with seven consecutive victories.
The Beavers saw the ball only one time in the opening quarter, a six-play, 16-yard drive that used only 3:52 off the clock. Franklin took possession following the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 11 plays as the Grizzlies converted on all three third down opportunities, including a third and 11 in which quarterback Chad Rupp found Brad Ohanian for a 35-yard pick-up.
Following the Beavers only possession during the first 20 minutes of the game, Franklin fashioned an astonishing 23-play, 76-yard drive which netted a 22-yard field goal following a questionable personal foul which kept the drive alive. The possession consumed over five minutes in both the first and second quarters as Bluffton sent its offense onto the the field for only the second time in the game with 9:30 remaining in the first half. Bluffton struggled to pick up first downs and the defense was forced back onto the field after two quick three and outs. Rupp distributed the ball to all of his offensive weapons before a 38-yard strike to Austin Gorrell set up a one-yard R.J. Hartsfield touchdown run. An interception by Erick Buddin (Ypsilanti, Mich/Ypsilanti) kept the Grizzlies from doing any more damage in the first half as Franklin took a 17-0 lead into intermission.
Bluffton gave fans hope when it opened the second half with what turned out to be its only scoring drive of the game. Andrew Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) moved the ball on the ground while Jared Owens (Van Wert/Crestview) completed four passes on the drive, including a 15-yard completion to Aaron Whitlock (Grove City/Central Crossing) in the end zone as the Beavers chewed up six minutes off the clock and closed the gap to 10 points. On Franklin's third play following the Bluffton score, Rupp found standout receiver Danny Sears open over the middle and Sears did the rest as he went 79 yards to take the air out of the Beavers' sails. A Franklin personal foul on the ensuing possession helped Bluffton shorten the field, but Owens was picked off with the Beavers inside the Grizzlies' 10-yard line. The Beaver defense, trying to recover after 22 minutes on the field in the opening half, was susceptible to the big play as Rupp hooked up with Sears for a 38-yard gain and Tony Gregory for a 34-yard score, giving Franklin the final margin of 31-7 with 6 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Bluffton put together one more sustained drive in the fourth quarter, however, Matt Taylor picked off a Beaver pass at the Grizzly goal line with eight minutes to play effectively preserving the victory and keeping Franklin undefeated through four games in 2006.
The Grizzlies' offense put up a whopping 435 yards on 69 plays (6.3 yds./play), including 307 yards through the air. Bluffton managed a measly 145 yards as it was on the field for only 25 minutes. Franklin picked up 19 first downs to 13 for Bluffton while the Grizzlies were unfazed on third downs, going 12-of-18 and keeping the Beavers' offense on the sidelines.
Anthony Bryant (Reynoldsburg/Reynoldsburg), Terence Clayton (Napoleon/Napoleon) and Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) all collected two receptions as Jared Owens completed 9-of-22 passes for one touchdown with two interceptions. Taylor Iceman (Lucas/Lucas) led the Beavers with 12 tackles and Buddin chipped in with 10. Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) finished with two TFL's for 22 yards and a 12-yard sack. Six Beavers picked up sacks during the contest.
Bluffton returns home on Saturday, October 7, to face the Manchester College Spartans during the 2006 Homecoming celebration. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.