Heartland Conference title to be decided at Defiance Saturday

November 7, 2000
By Tim Stried, SID

The road to the 2000 Heartland Conference championship makes its final stop Saturday in Defiance, Ohio, as the Bluffton College Beavers (4-1 HCAC, 6-3 overall) visit Justin F. Coressel Stadium to take on the Defiance College Yellow Jackets (4-1 HCAC, 7-2 overall).

At stake for both teams is a share of the HCAC title, and if Defiance wins they'll accept an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. And lurking in the background is another game as equally important a couple hundred miles away as Hanover College visits Franklin College. If Hanover and Bluffton both win, the two schools will share the title and Hanover will go to the playoffs.

Bluffton and Defiance have been on a head-on collision course all season and not in recent times has a game between the schools in the final regular season game of the season meant so much. These two rivals, separated by around 40 miles, have met on the gird iron 73 times (Defiance leads 36-34-3), including six times in the 1990s as members of the Association of Mideast Colleges, which broke up following the 1995 season.

Since then, both schools spent a couple seasons as independents before joining different leagues. Defiance hooked up with the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, while Bluffton became a member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. This season, however, Defiance joined the HCAC, and the rivalry has been renewed.

The latest chapter in that rivalry pits two teams that are nearly mirror images of each other. The two schools rank 1-2 in the HCAC in scoring defense, pass defense, total defense, turnover margin and rushing offense and rank 1-3 in rushing defense.

The Beavers and Yellow Jackets have not met since 1997 when Bluffton took a 31-6 win at Defiance in the final game of the regular season. BC won six straight from Defiance from 1985 to 1990, but since then Defiance has won five of the last seven meetings.

The Bluffton offense attacks with the one-two punch of senior tailback Tyson Goings and sophomore quarterback Brad Moore. Goings, who is from Defiance, leads the HCAC with 1,351 yards rushing and needs just 63 yards to break the BC single season rushing record of 1,414 yards set by Greg Gilcrease in 1986. Goings has led the HCAC in rushing the past three seasons and is third on the BC career rushing list with 4,163 yards.

Moore, the league's highest rated passer, has completed 55% of his passes this season for 1,799 yards and 16 touchdowns with just four interceptions. More is just two TD passes away from tying the Bluffton single-season mark of 18 set by Joel Parrett last season.

Defiance, meanwhile, has their own 1-2 punch that go by the names of Maurice Hooker and Kevin Kelly. Hooker is third in the HCAC with 1,058 yards rushing, while Kelly has passed for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions.

Defensively, Defiance defensive back Steve Binnix ranks second in the league with five interceptions, while Bluffton's Pat Craun and Shawn Goetz both have four picks. Defiance middle linebacker Nate Shaublin ranks third in the league with 97 tackles, while Bluffton middle linebacker Greg Ditz ranks fourth with 94 stops.

On the sidelines, Bluffton head coach Carlin Carpenter, who is a Defiance graduate and is in the Defiance Hall of Fame, is in his 22nd season at Bluffton and holds a 94-113-1 record. Defiance head coach Greg Pscodna is in his fifth season with the Yellow Jackets and owns an 18-27 record.

Check out the HCAC playoff picture.