Bluffton 28, Manchester 20
October 24, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Bluffton University football team traveled to North Manchester, Ind., and battled their way to a 28-20 victory on Saturday, Oct. 24. It was a record day for junior Micah Roberson (Ada), as his 10 receptions on the game broke the school record (62) for receptions in a season and his two TD catches tied the school record (10) in that category. The win gets Bluffton above .500 for the first time in 2015 at 4-3 overall and 3-2 in HCAC play. Manchester drops to 3-3 and 3-2 in conference action.
The Beavers opened the scoring on the first possession as they drove 65 yards on seven plays and took a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard scoring scamper from Dustin Fisher (St Marys/Memorial). The offense took the ball over on downs from the Spartans and hammered away with a 14 play, 80-yard drive, this one capped on a 2-yard touchdown toss from Conner Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) to Roberson and Bluffton led 14-0 at the 3:09 mark of the opening quarter.
However, the Spartans responded quickly as Logan Haston followed a 53-yard Hunter Hardee rush with a 2-yard TD run, cutting the Bluffton lead to 14-7 late in the quarter. After four straight possessions finished with punts, Sheehan threw his second touchdown of the day, this one to Lorenzo McLaurin (Hilliard/Darby) from 15 yards away and Bluffton took a 21-7 lead. The home team continued to battle back, this time with an eight-yard pass from Haston to Jarron Jackson and the Beavers lead was only 21-14, an advantage they would take into the locker room.
Manchester started with the football in the third quarter and they quickly got into the red zone on a pass from Haston to Jackson. But on the next play, Haston’s pass was picked off by Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) and Bluffton would take over. After the teams traded punts, Manchester drove to the Bluffton 12 but the 29-yard field goal was blocked by Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate) to nix the scoring opportunity.
The final quarter began with a bang for the Beavers thanks to a 65-yard touchdown snag by Roberson on a pass by Sheehan and Bluffton took a 28-14 lead. Manchester would battle back again with a 70-yard drive that was capped with a five-yard scoring scamper by Hardee and Bluffton led 28-20 with 10:20 to go. The Bluffton defense stood firm, forcing two straight four and outs and the Beavers finished with a 28-20 win.
The teams finished about as even as a stat column can get, as Bluffton outgained Manchester 383-381, but the Spartans finished with one more first down (20-19) on the game. Both teams also finished the contest with two turnovers.
Bluffton’s offense was led by Conner Sheehan, who finished 15-of-22 for 188 yards and three scores. Sheehan also anchored the Bluffton rushing attack, gaining 84 yards on 15 carries. Micah Roberson had another fantastic day, gaining 143 yards off 10 catches for the Beavers. Roberson (70 catches) blew past the single-season mark of 62 receptions set by Eric Metz (1999) and Jack Tomlinson (2014). His second touchdown of the afternoon gave him 10 for the season, equaling Donovan Brown's school mark from 2013. Manchester’s Logan Haston finished 20-of-30 for 209 yards and one touchdown, while Hunter Hardee ran 19 times for 142 markers in a losing effort.
On the defensive side, the Beavers were led by Matt Holden’s (Convoy/Crestview) 12 tackles. Brad Swavel chipped in with seven tackles, one for loss and the pickoff. Ryan Aelker tallied six tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, and two pass breakups to go along with his field goal block. Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) chipped in with six tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks.
Bluffton is back in action next Saturday, Oct. 31, as they hit the road for Cincinnati and take on the Mount St Joseph University Lions. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. The Beavers return to Alumni Field for their home finale and Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 7, against Anderson University. Come support your Beavers!