Kalamazoo 47, Bluffton 27
First half deficit too much to overcome in 47-27 loss at Kalamazoo
September 26, 2009
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Although the Bluffton University football team outscored host Kalamazoo 27-16 over the final 30:45 of the contest, the Hornets 31-0 lead proved too much to overcome. Kalamazoo held on for a 47-27 win over Bluffton on Saturday, Sept. 26, in Angell Stadium. The Beavers fell to 0-3 while K-zoo improved to 3-1 on the strength of its hurry-up spread attack.
The visitors picked up just one first down on their first two possessions, a 15-yard Chris Byrd (Detroit, Mich./Detroit University Prep) completion to sophomore Ross Shoup (Apple Creek/Waynedale) that moved the chains to the Bluffton 46. The drive stalled after a one-yard loss and two incompletions, setting up Kalamazoo's first score of the afternoon. Brandon Luczak went 5-of-5 through the air and capped the seven-play, 80-yard drive with an 11-yard strike to Cory McCain.
Following another Bluffton three and out, Luczak went back to work and took the Hornets on an 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive that included five more completions and a six-yard scoring toss to Dimeko Price which made the score 13-0 late in the first quarter.
The home team scored on all three of its possessions in the second quarter in building a commanding 31-0 lead with 5:04 to play in the period. Bluffton finally found some rhythm on offense late in the half. Tevin Hale (Latty/Wayne Trace) opened the drive with three straight runs for 14 yards before an eight-yard dash by quarterback John Hazen (Cardington/Cardington-Lincoln) moved the chains again. With just 45 seconds on the clock, Hazen connected with Shoup for a 20-yard score that made it 31-7 at the break.
The two teams traded turnovers to open the second half, including a K-zoo fumble forced by senior safety Brandon Herr (Bluffton), but a Hornet interception set up Luczak's fifth touchdown pass of the day, a 25-yard dart to Cory McCain.
Bluffton put together a 7:14 drive on its next possession only to be stopped at the Kalamazoo six-yard line on fourth down after three straight incompletions. The Bluffton defense came up big with a three and out after K-zoo was backed up near its own end zone and Hazen made the Hornets play on Bluffton's next possession when he hooked up with Shane Swisher (Findlay/McComb) for a 46-yard touchdown.
A 40-yard Hornet completion set up Luczak's five-yard scoring run that made it 45-14 with just 3:20 to play in the third quarter. The visitors would not go away, however, as Jason G. Johnson (Cleveland/Collinwood) found a seam and took it to the house for a 40-yard scoring run on Bluffton's last touch of the quarter.
Malcolm Mayfield (Lancaster, Penn/Chapel Hill) picked off Luczak at the Bluffton five, preventing more damage in the fourth quarter with 14:39 to play. Hazen took over following the turnover and led the Beavers down the field, hitting Dan Chipka (Waterville/Anthony Wayne) for a 41-yard reception and then finding Ross Shoup for a 42-yard scoring strike. The touchdown pass to Shoup came just three plays after Hazen's 32-yard run to the end zone was called back because of a Bluffton hold.
Bluffton mounted one more scoring threat late in the fourth quarter before Hazen went down and Kalamazoo forced the Beavers to turn it over on downs at the home 10-yard line with 4:46 on the clock.
The Beavers put together their best offensive showing of the year, going for 456 total yards, of which 320 came through the air. Kalamazoo continued to light up the scoreboard, throwing for 479 yards and five touchdowns (583 total yards). Bluffton finished with a six-minute time of possession advantage (33:07-26:53), but Kalamazoo picked up seven more first downs in the game (27-20). Both teams turned it over three times. Bluffton was 1-of-3 on red zone opportunities, while the Hornets converted on 5-of-6 attempts.
Hazen finished the game 13-of-26 for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Jason G. Johnson picked up 71 yards on just 14 carries, including his 40-yard score. Ross Shoup hauled in four passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Shane Swisher caught two balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. Chipka, Todd Trotter (Cincinnati/Aiken University), Hale and Johnson all chipped in with two receptions on the afternoon.
Brandon Herr and Shane Hubbard (Johnstown/Big Walnut) paced the Bluffton defense with 10 tackles each. Curtis Martin (Detroit, Mich./Central) chipped in with six tackles, while Eric DeWitt (Akron/Revere) and Malcolm Mayfield both picked off passes. Sophomore Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) had a sack and Oscar Vazquez-Dyer (Findlay/Carey) broke up two passes.
Bluffton returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 3, when it travels to face Mt. St. Joseph in the Beavers' 2009 Heartland Conference opener. The contest is slated to start at 1:30 p.m. in Cincinnati.