Bluffton 28, Hanover 18
October 15, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team welcomed the Hanover College Panthers for their first home game since September 17 on a sunny and windy Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field. After a slow start, the Beavers took control of the contest in the second half as they marched their way to a 28-18 victory while improving to 5-1 (3-1 HCAC) on the season. The Panthers dropped to 1-5 (1-3 HCAC) following the loss to Bluffton on Homecoming.
Hanover would get on the board first after ADAM GOEPFRICH nailed a 38-yard field goal to put the Panthers up 3-0 with 7:27 left in the first quarter. With less than two minutes to play in the opening quarter, Bluffton went up 7-3 when CONNER SHEEHAN (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) connected with RAPHAEL DELL (Cincinnati/Hughes) on a 65-yard touchdown pass.
At the 12:20 mark of the second quarter, Hanover would retake the lead when ADAM GUTERMUTH ran it in from seven yards out to make it a 10-7 ballgame. Bluffton would throw in some trickery and after a handoff to DUSTIN FISHER (St. Marys/Memorial), he pitched the ball back to COLBY SPEICE (Paulding/Wayne Trace) who took his turn, finding Raphael Dell in the end zone for a 38-yard score. The Beavers would go into halftime with a 14-10 lead.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, TYRONE WHITE (Orrville) intercepted Gutermuth and returned it for a 30-yard pick-six. With Bluffton holding a 21-10 lead entering the fourth quarter, the Beavers bumped their lead to 28-10 after Raphael Dell hauled in his third touchdown of the day on a 35-yard pass by Sheehan. That toss helped Sheehan tie Joel Parrett's school record with his 43rd career passing touchdown. The Panthers pulled within 28-18 following an 8-yard touchdown pass by Gutermuth and 2-pt conversion, but Bluffton’s defense was able to hold Hanover as the Beavers polished off their fifth win of the season.
Leading the way was Conner Sheehan who connected on 19-of-31 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. DANTE CARROLL (Gahanna/Lincoln) led the way on the ground as he gained 65 yards on 15 carries. Raphael Dell hauled in five passes for 158 yards and three receiving touchdowns, giving him nine on the year. Dell is one touchdown away from tying the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season (10).
Bluffton was led by JAKE HARMON (Van Wert/Crestview) on the defensive side of the ball, piling up 14 tackles which included a sack. ISAAC ZICKAFOOSE (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) and AARON LETINSKI (Allen Park, Mich./Allen Park) each had 3.5 TFLs on the afternoon. The Beaver defense only allowed 112 yards through the air and added two interceptions.
At the midway point of the season, Conner Sheehan is having a great year under center, connecting on 115-of-164 (70.1 percent) of his passes with 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions. MICAH ROBERSON (Ada) is leading the way for the receivers, hauling in 56 catches for 572 yards and six touchdowns. Dante Carroll has 96 carries for 518 yards and seven scores this season.
Jake Harmon is putting together a steller senior year as he tops the team with 48 tackles. LINKOLN LAROCHE (Dola/Hardin Northern) leads the Beavers in sacks with 5.5 while Isaac Zickafoose is right on his tail with five of his own. Zickafoose and Letinski have stuffed the opposition with 11 and 10.5 TFL's, respectively.
Bluffton is back at home next week against Manchester on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1:30 p.m. before hitting the road to face Rose-Hulman on October 29. Come out and support your Beavers!