Bluffton vs. Mount St. Joseph
Beavers slow MSJ offense before falling to 15th ranked Lions, 17-0
November 4, 2006
CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team (3-6, 2-4 HCAC) traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, on Saturday, November 4, 2006, to face off against the nationally ranked Mount St. Joseph Lions. The Mount's defense was as good as advertised, but the Bluffton defense was up to the task as it held the Lions at bay for most of the afternoon. A 60-yard completion near the end of the first half and a steady dose of Mike Lovell on the opening drive of the fourth quarter was the difference as the Lions wrapped up their third consecutive Heartland Conference title with a 17-0 victory on Senior Day. The three straight HCAC titles is a first as the Mount improved to 9-0, including a perfect 7-0 mark in the conference.
In a complete turnaround from the 2005 contest against Mount St. Joseph when MSJ scored on its first six touches for 42 first-half points, the Bluffton defense limited the Lions to only two first downs in the first quarter. Great field possession on the Mount's second drive of the day and a 19-yard screen pass to All-Heartland Conference tailback Mike Lovell set up a 40-yard Kevin Cook field goal midway through the opening stanza.
On the ensuing possession, Bluffton picked up a couple of first downs before Jared Owens (Van Wert/Crestview) was intercepted, prematurely halting the drive. The Beavers' defense stood tough following the turnover and a Sam McCullough (Bluffton/Bluffton) sack forced the Lions to punt with the first quarter winding down.
To open quarter two, Bluffton and MSJ combined for three consecutive three and outs before the Mount threatened to put points on the board. The Lions picked up four first downs and burned over six minutes off the game clock, but another first down screen pass to Lovell came back when offsetting penalties erased the play. With the Lions looking at a fourth and four, sophomore defensive end Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) forced quarterback Rashon Lewis into an intentional grounding, giving Bluffton the ball at the Beavers' 38-yard line.
Following a quick three and out for Bluffton, Lewis hooked up with standout Lions' wide receiver Mike Jones for a 60-yard completion. Lovell wasted no time finding the end zone as he went in from the Bluffton eight on the next play, giving MSJ a 10-0 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
Despite picking up seven first downs and holding MSJ to only two in the third quarter, Bluffton failed to put points on the scoreboard. After a huge Lovell gain on the Mount's first play of the second half, freshman safety Brandon Herr (Bluffton/Bluffton) picked off Lewis' offering on the ensuing play, giving the Beavers the ball at the 20-yard line.
Bluffton put together its best drive of the game midway through quarter three as the Beavers picked up five first downs. Owens found Drew Lovelace (Trumansburg, N.Y./C.U. Dickerson) and Mike Brown (North Wales, Pa./Calvary Christian Academy) for first downs while he and AJ Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) moved the chains on the ground. A sack by the Lions forced a 45-yard Justin Guy (Oregon/Clay) field goal attempt which fell just short.
Senior defensive tackle Bryan Lloyd (Elida/Bath) recovered a Lions' fumble at the home 25-yard line on the second play following the missed field goal, but after three plays which netted only five yards, the Beavers' field goal try again went awry at the end of the third stanza.
Mount St. Joseph took advantage on its next possession, riding the back of Lovell on an 80-yard drive which the Lions capped with a touchdown for a 17-0 victory over the Beavers.
After being held to only eight yards on 12 carries in the opening half, Lovell found his stride and blockers late in the game to finish with 166 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. He helped the Lions outgain Bluffton 348 yards to 146 for the game. The Beavers picked up 80 yards on the ground, while MSJ tallied 215 yards. The Lions picked up 17 first downs and their defense held Bluffton to only 11 first downs and no points. Thanks to Lovell's second half success on the ground, the Mount controlled the ball for over 34 minutes.
Owens picked up 33 yards on the ground and Ramthun tallied 30 on his 10 carries. Aaron Whitlock (Grove City/Central Crossing) led the Bluffton receivers with three catches for 25 yards. Brown and Ramthun both hauled in two passes while Lovelace finished with one reception.
Cornerback Erick Buddin (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti) tallied eight stops, including five solos to lead the Bluffton defense. Senior linebacker Ben McCullough (Bluffton/Bluffton) forced a fumble and came up with seven tackles. Senior lineman Bryan Lloyd took down the MSJ rushers for 2.5 TFL's in the backfield while Sam McCullough finished with eight tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss.
The Beavers will welcome long-time rival Defiance College to Salzman Stadium on Saturday, October 11, for the final game of the 2006 season. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Bluffton.