Bluffton to face giant-killer Franklin Saturday

By Tim Stried, SID
October 25, 2000

Bluffton College travels to Franklin College on Saturday where the host Grizzly squad will have hopes of upsetting another Heartland Conference leader on back-to-back weeks. Bluffton, meanwhile, aims at staying at the top of the HCAC race and staking a claim to an eventual NCAA playoff berth.

Last Saturday Franklin scored 37 points against the top-rated defense in the entire HCAC as the Grizzlies topped Defiance 37-27. Defiance entered the game 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the HCAC, but now share the league's top spot with Bluffton, who shut out Manchester College on Saturday 27-0 to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the HCAC.

Bluffton handed Franklin a 28-7 loss last season at Salzman Stadium, but the last time BC traveled to Franklin (1998) the Grizzlies earned a hard-fought 28-21 win over the Beavers. In that game, Bluffton tied the game at 21-21 with 10:03 left in the game, but Franklin scored the game's final TD with 6:59 left to play as both teams ended the season with 4-3 league record to tie for third place in the HCAC.

Last week against Defiance, Franklin's Brandon Gillard rushed 19 times for 145 yards, including a 69-yard scoring jaunt that put Franklin up by 10 at 30-20. He was named the HCAC's Offensive Player of the Week, while three players shared the league's Defensive Player of the Week honor, including Franklin's Pat Manford and Bluffton's Pat Craun. Manford recorded nine tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, while Craun recorded eight tackles, intercepted three passes, caused a fumble.

Bluffton continues to have the league's top scoring margin squad, as the Beaver's 32.1 points per game is tops and their 14.1 points per game allowed is second. Franklin's passing offense is ranked second in the league, averaging 243.7 yards per game led by freshman quarterback Greg Huff, who ranks sixth in the HCAC in passing efficiency (103.1 rating). Huff and the Grizzlies will be given a strong test by the BC defense, however, which ranks second in the league in pass efficiency defense and has intercepted 13 passes. Franklin isn't one-dimensional, though, as Gillard's 70.4 yards rushing per game ranks fourth in the HCAC.

Bluffton is one of just two offenses in the Heartland Conference to have over 1,000 yards rushing and passing (Defiance is the other). BC is led on the ground by senior Tyson Goings, who is ranked eighth in the country with 161.7 yards rushing per game, which isn't good news for Franklin, which ranks sixth in the league in rushing defense. Tyson's 12.0 points per game also leads the HCAC and is ranked tenth in the nation. BC quarterback Brad Moore has been held under 200 yards passing for three straight weeks, but his 157.3 QB rating leads the HCAC and is ranked 12th in the country.

Franklin has connected on just nine of 14 extra point kicks this season and ranks sixth in the HCAC in time of possession. Junior Eddie Tucker leads the Franklin receiving corps, averaging six catches for 100 yards per game. On defense, Franklin is led by middle linebacker Josef Kapitan who ranks eighth in the HCAC in tackles.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. Ohio time).