Bluffton 54, Earlham 20
November 5, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
RICHMOND, Ind. - The Bluffton University football team had little trouble with an overmatched Earlham College squad on a beautiful Saturday, Nov. 5. The Beavers improved to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the Heartland Conference, while Earlham slipped to 0-9 and 0-7 in the HCAC.
A blocked punt by Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) set the tone as Bluffton rolled to a 21-0 lead before Earlham got on the scoreboard with 56 seconds to play in the opening period. Conner Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) fired scoring strikes of 58 and 19 yards to Micah Roberson (Ada) before a three-yard Dante Carroll (Gahanna/Lincoln) TD plunge with 2:35 to play in the quarter.
Roberson covered nearly 25 yards of turf before crossing the goal line on a 10-yard shovel pass that made the score 27-6 with his third touchdown catch of the day at the 12:50 mark of period two. Following back-to-back Bluffton punts, Sheehan dialed Raphael Dell's (Cincinnati/Hughes) number for a 23-yard score that pushed the lead to 40-6 at the break.
Carroll capped a quick four-play 47-yard drive to open the second half with a nine-yard run to paydirt for the 47-6 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter. A bad snap on Earlham's ensuing punt left Bluffton in business once again, this time at the Quaker 44-yard line. Following a nine-yard Carroll run, sophomore Brandon Koch (West Harrison, Ind./East Central) hit Dell in stride for a 35-yard score which drove the spread to 54-6 midway through the third period.
Versatile signal-caller Wes Hundley threw for a score and ran for another in the final quarter as Bluffton emptied the bench early in the 54-20 road victory over the Quakers.
Roberson and Dell continued their duel at the top of the record books with five touchdowns between them on Saturday. Dell hauled in four passes for 90 yards with two scores, giving him a Bluffton single-season record 14 with one game to play. He also moved into fourth place on the career list with 17 in less than two seasons of action. Roberson's three TD's moved him up to second, behind Dell, with 11 this season. His 24 career receiving scores are tops all-time among Bluffton pass catchers. Roberson caught five balls total for 132 yards in the victory. His 909 receiving yards this season are fifth all-time.
Sheehan continued to add to his season and career touchdown marks, throwing for four scores while completing 13-of-17 passes for 263 yards. He holds Bluffton records with 24 TD passes this season and 52 for his career. Carroll paced the Bluffton running game with 76 yards on just nine touches, including two scores.
Brad Topp (Carlisle) and Zickafoose topped the Beaver defense with four tackles apiece. Zickafoose finished with 2.5 sacks, while Topp had an eight-yard sack among his 2.5 TFL's. Austin Hall (Piqua) and Zen Burdette (Wren/Crestview) chipped in with one sack apiece.
Bluffton outgained the Quakers, 465-331, including 301-178 through the air. Earlham controlled the clock with almost 35 minutes of possession. The Beaver defense limited the Quakers to just 4-of-16 on third down attempts. Bluffton scored touchdowns on all five of its trips into the red zone.
The Beavers will wrap up their record-setting 2016 campaign on Senior Day when Bluffton welcomes rival Defiance College to Alumni Field next Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m. Come out and cheer on your Beavers as they look to cap the season with a seventh straight 'Hammer'!