Wabash puts clamps on BC

By Tim Stried, SID

October 11, 1999


As Bluffton College traveled to Wabash College last Saturday, just two things were constant--a steady rain and the Little Giant defense. And both were responsible for the Beaver's 27-7 loss in Crawfordsville, Indiana, as BC preps for a homecoming matchup this Saturday with the Anderson University Ravens.

The story of the game was Bluffton's inability to unleash their usual potent running game, as Wabash held junior running back Tyson Goings to just 20 yards rushing and surrendered just 38 net yards on the ground to BC's five ball carriers. Goings entered the game averaging 127.3 yards rushing per game as BC ranked 17th in the country in rushing offense at 240.3 yards per contest.

So Bluffton took to the air, and despite the weather senior quarterback Joel Parrett was able to connect on 26 of 38 passes for 248 yards. With few exceptions, however, Wabash limited the completions to short gains, as the Beaver receivers weren't able to break out their usual catch-and-run style of play. Goings was Parrett's main target with nine catches for 74 yards. Senior Evan Ward caught seven passes for 72 yards and senior Eric Metz recorded five catches for 56 yards.

Unable to run the football, Bluffton gave up possession twice inside the Wabash five yard line, and another two times at the Wabash 25 yard line. BC also was forced to punt four times and had three drives ended by interceptions. Neither team lost a fumble on Saturday, as Bluffton recovered their lone fumble while Wabash held possession of both of their cough ups.

The Beavers, however, did control several team statistics. BC recorded 18 first downs to Wabash's 17 and held the ball for 30:23 compared to 29:37 for the Little Giants. BC outgained Wabash in total yards 319 to 307 and the Beaver defense forced Wabash to punt six times. The scoreboard, of course, was the only statistic that mattered, but in addition to the score, Wabash rushed for 175 yards and was 8-16 on third down conversions compared to just 6 of 17 for Bluffton.

BC took possession first in the ball game and put together an impressive 11 play, 82 yard drive highlighted by a 30 yard hookup from Parrett to Jon Spradling down to the Wabash eight yard line as the sophomore wide receiver made a diving catch past two Little Giant defenders. Three short runs and an incomplete pass kept the Beavers out of the endzone, however, as the rain continued to fall in Byron P. Hollett Stadium.

The teams traded punts on their next possessions before Wabash put the first points of the game up on the board on a 22 yard pass from freshman quarterback Jake Knott to Jay Dee Flynn with 1:57 remaining in the first quarter. The Little Giants rang up another tally at the 7:43 mark in the second quarter as Desson Hannum rambled in from 15 yards out. The extra point was missed, but as the Bluffton offense continued to get bogged down in Wabash territory, the Beavers went into the locker room at halftime down 13-0.

The second half began with new life for Bluffton, however, as a botched Wabash punt snap gave the Beavers the football at the Little Giant 31yard line as senior Jarret Smotrila sacked the Little Giant punter. Goings made the possession count as he took a Parrett handoff on the seventh play of the drive and bulled over from four yards out. Freshman kicker Adam Burgess connected for the extra point and BC was back in the game at 13-7.

That would be all Wabash would allow, however, as BC's next four possessions would end with two punts and two interceptions. Meanwhile, the Wabash offense put two more touchdowns on the board, the first coming on a 20 yard pass from Knot to Corey Barnard with 0:27 remaining in the third quarter, and then again with 2:58 left in the game as Knott kept the ball around right end for a three yard TD scamper.

Senior defensive back Shawn Goetz led the BC defense with six solo tackles, three assists, one tackle for loss and an interception in the endzone. Junior middle linebacker Greg Ditz also recorded nine total tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage and one pass breakup, while Smotrila had seven stops and one pass breakup. Junior outside linebacker Cliff Willoughby had six total tackles in the contest including two behind the line of scrimmage.

For Wabash, it was their 10th straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory as the Little Giants are looking to defend their 1998 HCAC title with a 3-0 league record so far and 3-2 record overall. The loss was Bluffton's second the HCAC in as many games and drops the Beavers to 3-2 overall. Anderson won their first HCAC game over Mount St. Joseph last Saturday and will enter Salzman Stadium on Saturday with a 1-4 overall record.