Bluffton tops Defiance 31-30 to win share of HCAC titleNovember 11, 2000
Bluffton College came away with a 31-30 victory in the final seconds over Defiance College Saturday to win a share of the 2000 Heartland Conference championship in front of 3,750 fans at Defiance College's Justin F. Coressel Stadium.
Bluffton's season comes to an end with a 7-3 overall record and a 5-1 mark in the Heartland Conference, which matches the league mark of Hanover College for best in the 2000 HCAC race. Hanover beat Franklin College Saturday 34-17 to earn the HCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs next Saturday.
Defiance ends their season 7-3 after starting out the 2000 season 6-0. The Yellow Jackets could have earned a trip to the playoffs and a share of the HCAC championship with a win themselves.
Defiance scored the first two touchdowns of the game to take a 14-0 lead, but Bluffton outscored the Yellow Jackets 31-3 over the next 29 minutes of action to build a 31-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Defiance came roaring back, though, and scored a touchdown with 9:08 left in the game to bring the score to 31-24. Defiance then regained possession with 2:18 left on the clock and capped off a 55 yard drive with an eight yard touchdown pass with just 33 second left in the game. The extra point was wide left, however, and after Bluffton recovered the on-side kick the Beavers celebrated their one-point victory with the hundreds of fans that followed the team north.
Senior running back Tyson Goings rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns as he set the Bluffton's single season rushing record with 1,487 yards rushing this season. Goings scored on runs of five yards and two yards in the second quarter and eight yards in the third quarter.
Senior Brandon Cupples was perfect on all four of his extra-point kicks in the game and nailed a 24-yard field goal with 11:50 remaining in the game that would be the last of Bluffton's points of the afternoon.
Senior linebacker Greg Ditz recorded a season-high 18 tackles to lead the defensive unit, while senior Greg Bruns and junior Demont Watkins both notched two sacks and junior linebacker Jon Richardson had an interception to go along with eight tackles. Senior defensive back Shawn Goetz collected nine tackles.
Freshman Jovan Johnson caught eight passes on the afternoon for 155 yards that included a 24-yard scoring grab in the third quarter. Johnson also returned four kickoffs for 98 yards. Sophomore quarterback Brad Moore completed 12 of 20 passes for 208 yards and his 17 touchdown passes this season came within one of the BC single season record of 18 held by 2000 BC graduate Joel Parrett.
Defiance faired better in several game statistics, including time of possession and total yards. The Yellow Jackets held the football for 33:35 compared to 26:25 for the Beavers, and Defiance outgained BC 391-361.
The piece of a conference title is the first for Bluffton since the Beavers tied Thomas More for the Association of Mideast Colleges championship in 1994.
For 15 Bluffton College seniors, their last game as a Beaver was certainly a memorable one. This senior class ends their four years at Bluffton with an overall record of 23-17 and posted back-to-back 7-3 seasons the past two years. This year's senior class includes Adam Bowsher, Greg Bruns, Brandon Cupples, Greg Ditz, Jeff Fay, Clint Fox, Shawn Goetz, Tyson Goings, Luke Habegger, Rob Kitchen, Wes Laipply, Adam Lawrence, Jeremy Poeppleman, Dan Voress and Cliff Willoughby.
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