Big-play Beavers move to 3-3 with 29-27 Homecoming win over Spartans
October 9, 2010
By: Josh Bruner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team welcomed the Spartans of Manchester
College to Salzman Stadium on Saturday, October 9, 2010 for the 2010 Homecoming game.
The Beavers came out of the gates like a raging bull, as they put up 19 points in
the first quarter. The Bluffton defense thwarted the Spartans through the first, not
allowing a score. Manchester put together its first score in the second quarter, as
the Beavers led 26-7 going into the half. The Spartans gave Bluffton a run in the
fourth quarter as they held the Beavers scoreless and put 13 points on the board,
but missed a 55-yard field goal attempt with six ticks remaining to give Bluffton
its second straight win, 29-27. The win puts the Beavers at .500 for the season as
they are 3-3 overall, and 2-2 in the HCAC. Bluffton's three wins are the most since
2006 when the Beavers went 3-7 on the season and the consecutive victories marks the
first time that has occurred since 2004. The Spartans fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2
in the HCAC after the loss.
Bluffton fans were ecstatic through the whole first quarter as the big-play Beavers
pummeled the visitors. The very first drive resulted in an interception from Challen Stewart (Antwerp) as he picked off a third and 16 attempt from the Spartans on the Manchester
48-yard line. Bluffton struggled to move the ball on its first drive, tallying just
two yards before they were forced to punt. The Beaver defense proved up to the task
as it forced a punt from the Spartans.
On Bluffton's second play following the punt, junior quarterback Christopher Byrd (Detroit Mich./Detroit Univ. Prep) broke off an outstanding 76-yard run on a well-blocked
draw up the middle. The PAT was blocked by the Spartans but the Beavers took a 6-0
lead. The Bluffton defense forced another punt from Manchester in the following drive.
Bluffton added another touchdown on the first play of the next drive when Byrd connected
with Shane Swisher (Findlay/McComb) for a 38-yard touchdown pass thanks to a flea flicker that had Tyler Wright (Troy) taking the handoff and pitching it back to Byrd. It gave the Beavers an early
lead 13-0 with 8:10 left in the first quarter. Late in the stanza Byrd connected with
Jason A. Johnson (Lansing Mich./Lansing Eastern) for a 75-yard touchdown pass. This ended the scoring
for the quarter as Bluffton built a commanding 19-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Following an Adam Schell scoring run, sophomore Alexander Carter (Troy) returned the kickoff 90 yards for another Bluffton touchdown. The score put
the Beavers up 26-7 with nine minutes remaining in the half and that score would hold
up until the break.
Manchester made use of the field position following a Brecken Kennedy interception as they pounded the ball down the field for a quick seven points, cutting
the deficit to 26-14 in favor of Bluffton with 10:23 left in the quarter. Bluffton
managed to drain a large portion of the quarter on the next drive, as they took just
under seven minutes off the clock. The drive ended in a 36-yard field goal from Austin Sweeney (Adrian, Mich./Whitmer). The Bluffton defense proved its mettle on the next drive
when Shane Hubbard (Johnstown/ Big Walnut) forced a fumble. The Beavers were once again held to a field
goal attempt, but this time Sweeney was just off as he hit the left upright on a 42-yard
The fourth quarter started with a Manchester punt. Bluffton pounded the ball on the
ground as they tried to eat up some of the clock. The Spartans put an end to the drive
after just 12 yards, forcing a punt. The Spartans got the ball back with 12:21 remaining
in the game and trailing Bluffton by 15. Manchester put together an impressive drive,
going for 80 yards in just over two minutes. The possession ended in a touchdown pass
from Justin Minnich to Cody Larimore which was set up by a 51-yard completion to Kurt Monix from Minnich. This pulled the visitors within eight as they only trailed 29-21 with
10 minutes remaining.
Another stalled drive set the Spartans up at their own 30-yard line. Manchester went
70 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a touchdown pass to Wes Johnson. The Spartans attempted a two point conversion to tie the game but failed, making
it Bluffton 29-27 with 2:47 left in the game. The Spartan defense was up to the task
as it held the Beavers to a three and out, giving them the ball back on their own
14-yard line with 1:17 left in the game. Manchester drove the ball down the field,
completing four passes, including a batted ball that ended up in Adam's Schell's hands
for a 12-yard gain. The Spartans sent in Kyle Evans for a 55-yard attempt with six seconds remaining. The stadium seemed to freeze while
the kick was in the air and headed for the goal posts. It fell just short, giving
the Beavers the ball, the win and their first Homecoming victory since a 14-9 triumph
over the Spartans in 2006.
The offenses proved to be fairly even as Manchester finished with a slight edge of
396 yards of offense, compared to 377 yards for the Beavers. Bluffton had the advantage
in the ground game as they ran for 210 yards on 46 attempts, while the Spartans went
for 174 yards on 37 attempts. The Beavers tallied 167 yards of passing while completing
10 of their 14 attempts. Bluffton proved to be more efficient on third downs as it
went 6-of-13, while Manchester only moved the chain on four of the 14 attempts. The
Spartans took advantage of their red-zone appearances, scoring all four times.
Byrd paced the Beaver offense, rushing for 120 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.
He also added 125 yards and two touchdowns while completing five of his eight attempts.
Tyler Wright (Troy) followed with 70 yards rushing on 19 attempts. Jeff Gehring (Parma/Trinity) added 16 yards on three carries. Leading the Beaver receivers was
Johnson with 94 yards on three catches, one ending in a touchdown. Swisher added a
38-yard touchdown reception for the victors.
The Bluffton defense was led by Hubbard who stopped the Spartans 11 times. Justin Hahn (Rocky River) added nine tackles, while Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) followed closely with eight. Crosier cut down the Spartans
with 3.5 TFL's. Stewart piled up six tackles and one interception for the Bluffton
The Beavers will continue with HCAC action when they head to Anderson next Saturday,
Oct. 16, to face the Ravens in the first of back-to-back road challenges that send
Bluffton to Rose-Hulman on October 23. The contest is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m.