Big plays vault BC over Franklin 28-7

By Tim Stried, SID

November 7, 1999




A steady offense and a bend-but-don't-break defense worked in rhythm Saturday as Bluffton College won their fourth game in a row, topping Franklin College 28-7 on Parent's Day in Salzman Stadium. And they set a few records along the way, as BC is now 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Beavers will travel to Wilmington College next Saturday for a showdown with the 8-1 Quakers in the last regular season game of the millennium.

It was a game of big plays for the Beavers on both sides of the football, although those big plays didn't always come in the form of big yards. Short gains that kept drives alive and open field tackles that caused fourth down punts were common occurrences that may not stand out in the statistics, but add up for the most important statistic--the final score.

And making the victory that much sweeter are the milestone achievements of Head Coach Carlin Carpenter and several BC players. The victory Saturday is Carpenter's 88th at Bluffton College, which ties Carlin with Ken Mast for the all-time wins record at BC. Senior wide receiver Eric Metz caught nine passes in the game, giving him 155 for his career, a new BC record as Tory Strock '97 is now #2 on the list. Senior quarterback Joel Parrett tossed three touchdown passes, giving him 40 for his career as Joel moved past Cliff Hemmert '89, who threw 39 TDs.

The BC defense turned in perhaps their best effort of the season Saturday, as Franklin's passing offense, ranked third in the nation entering the game, unleashed all the fire power they could muster, only to have it handed back to them time after time. The BC defense gave up just one touchdown to the Grizzly offense despite 61 pass attempts and 329 yards from Franklin quarterback Travis McMahen. Bluffton picked off McMahen three times, sacked him twice and stripped him of the ball one other time to force four turnovers from the record-setting Franklin QB, who came into the game having thrown 26 touchdowns on the season and just 11 interceptions.

And when Bluffton got control of the ball, they kept it. BC committed just one turnover in the game and held the ball for 36:44 compared to just 23:16 for Franklin, the highlight of that statistic being a 20 play, 11:02 drive by the Beavers in the second half that produced the game's final score.

BC took possession first in the game and put together a 10 play drive that ended on a 10 yard highlight-reel hookup from Parrett to Metz. On a second and goal pass play Joel set sail a pass over the middle of the defense that Eric snatched out of the air as he was flipped head over heals before landing in the endzone. And except for the Grizzly backers, his catch brought the 2,208 fans in attendance to their feet, who were already in good spirits due to the sunny and mild weather that graced northwest Ohio Saturday.

The BC defense came out strong, as well, holding the Grizzlies to just two first downs on their first two possessions. BC next score would come a little more quickly this time, as Parrett hit sophomore Jon Spradling on a deep post route that Jon took in to the endzone for a 39 yard touchdown. Freshman Adam Burgess added his second of four consecutive extra points and Bluffton was on top 14-0 with 4:32 remaining in the opening quarter.

Franklin answered, however, with a nine-play drive that ended with a McMahen to Joe Krouse eight yard connection. The extra point was good and Franklin was back in the game at 14-7, which is where the score would stand for the rest of the first half as BC would give up the football on their next five possessions--three by punt, once on a fumble and once on downs.

The Franklin offense wasn't having any better luck, though, as their next five possessions would end in the exact same fashion. Highlighting the second quarter was a forced fumble by sophomore defensive tackle Toby Smith, who crashed through the Franklin line to knock the ball free from McMahen. The fumble was recovered by senior linebacker Jeremy Arend, who recorded five tackles and a pass breakup on the afternoon in addition to his timely steal of the pigskin.

The second half began with a similar play, as McMahen lost the handle on the football in the pocket and junior defensive end Greg Bruns came up with the fumble recovery on Franklin's own 30 yard line. The BC offense went straight to work, covering those 30 yards in six plays, capped off by a 16 yard pass from Parrett to fullback Paul Risner. It was the first of Risner's two second half touchdowns as the senior finished his last home game with 51 yards rushing and his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season.

In the second half Franklin fell victim to an amazing feat turned in by another Bluffton defensive back and what is an even greater coincidence. Consider that last week senior defensive back Jarret Smotrila recorded interceptions on back-to-back Mount St. Joseph drives to end the third quarter and begin the fourth. Saturday against Franklin, fellow senior defensive back Shawn Goetz did the same thing, almost down to the exact same yard line. Goetz picked off his first pass Saturday in the BC end zone, just as Smotrila did, then recorded his second pick on the BC 22 yard line, while last week Smotrila had his second pick on the BC 20 yard line.

It was plays like those and the open field tackling of sophomore defensive back Jon Richardson that stymied the Grizzly offense in the final 30 minutes. Richardson ended the day with a career high 10 tackles, most of which were in the open field as he tracked down Franklin receivers and held them shy of the first down marker. Add to that a sack by freshman Jeremy Parthemore and another BC interception in the endzone, this time by sophomore defensive back Ben Schwab, and you have the making of a good day's work.

Bluffton's final touchdown was the end product of a 20 play drive that followed Goetz's second interception. The Beavers went 78 yards in 11:02, during which the only thing that grew longer than the shadows were the faces of the Franklin defenders, who gave up three third down conversions and two fourth down tries in the drive, including the one yard touchdown run by Risner. Consider that Bluffton averaged just 3.9 yards per play during the drive and it's no wonder why it took so long.

And the main cog of almost every Bluffton drive on the afternoon was Eric Metz, who kept BC drives alive time after time with big catches. He ended the day with nine receptions, while Goings had six catches for 48 yards and senior Evan Ward had four catches for 42 yards.

Junior Adam Lawrence tied Richardson for the team lead in tackles, as the middle linebacker took the place of injured Greg Ditz and came up with 10 tackles himself, including one for a loss of five yards. Parthemore rang up eight tackles, two of which were in the Franklin backfield, to go with his QB sack and a pass breakup. Junior linebacker Cliff Willoughby added seven tackles and a pass break up while seniors Smotrila and Arend each recorded five tackles.