Bluffton 34, Manchester 6
October 22, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team welcomed Manchester University on a windy but comfortable Saturday, Oct. 22. The Beavers improved to 6-1 (4-1 HCAC) on the season after a convincing 34-6 victory. The Spartans remain winless, dropping to 0-7 (0-5 HCAC).
The Beavers would get on the scoreboard first when MICAH ROBERSON (Ada/Ada) hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from CONNER SHEEHAN (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage), making the score 7-0. Bluffton pushed it to 14-0 after Sheehan connected with RAPHAEL DELL (Cincinnati/Hughes) from seven yards out with 3:47 left in the first quarter. Less than minute into the second quarter, Micah Roberson showed his versatility on a bit of trickery with a 27-yard pitch and catch to Dell for a 21-0 spread.
The Spartans received the second half kick and started with great field position after the Beavers were unable to recover an onside attempt. Manchester needed just seven plays and capped the 55-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from ALEX DOWNARD to JARED BOURFF. The Spartans missed the extra point try, making the score 21-6.
Raphael Dell would haul in his third touchdown of the afternoon at the 5:20 mark of the third quarter when Conner Sheehan found him in the corner of the end zone. Strong defensive play was key as ISAAC ZICKAFOOSE (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) forced and recovered a fumble inside the Manchester 10-yard line. With great field position, the Beavers saw their lead balloon to 34-6 after a shovel pass to Micah Roberson capped off Bluffton's sixth win of the season.
Leading the way for Bluffton was Conner Sheehan who connected on 30-of-39 of his passes that went for 285 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Dante Carroll rushed for 124 yards on just 13 carries as he had his second 100-yard game this season. Micah Roberson caught 14 passes for 125 yards, including two touchdowns. Raphael Dell hauled in three touchdowns for the second straight week and picked up 132 yards on nine catches.
The Beavers lit it up on the defensive side of the ball as well with 15 tackles-for-loss (80 yards). Isaac Zickafoose had one of the best games of his career with 11 tackles (10 solos), three sacks, 5 TFL's, a forced fumble and a recovery! AARON LETINSKI (Allen Park, Mich./Allen Park) wrapped up six tackles (2.5 TFL's) and KOBE RUSSELL (Wooster/Wooster) added five stops.
Bluffton limited the Manchester to just 55 yards of total offense, including -10 yards on the ground, both lows during Coach Dorrel's tenure at the helm. The Beavers rolled off 554 yards of offense (329 passing and 225 rushing). The home team maintained possession for over 34 minutes and converted 9-of-16 third down attempts. Manchester was just 3-of-14 on third down and the Spartans allowed Bluffton to score touchdowns on 4-of-5 trips into the red zone.
Many records were set on a day when the Beavers equaled their most victories since going 7-3 in 2000. Conner Sheehan, Micah Roberson, Raphael Dell and Isaac Zickafoose each broke Bluffton records. Conner Sheehan’s four touchdowns pushed him to 47 career passing touchdown, breaking the previous mark of 43 set by Joel Parrett. Sheehan would also break the record for most touchdown passes in a season (18) as he has 19 with three games to play. Junior Micah Roberson broke the record for most career touchdown receptions (20) set by Andy Nowlin after his two scores gave him 21. The record for most touchdown receptions in a season (10) set by Donovan Brown and Micah Roberson was broken by sophomore Raphael Dell who has hauled in 12 TDs, including six in the past two games. The five TFL's by Isaac Zickafoose equaled Mitch Agner's school mark set in 2008.
The Beavers will travel to Rose-Hulman next Saturday, Oct. 29, at 1:30 P.M. for a crucial HCAC matchup as they fight for first place in the conference after the Engineers stunned #14 Franklin 23-22, leaving Bluffton as one of four teams with one loss in the HCAC, along with RHIT, MSJ and Franklin.