Spartans, Beavers aim to bounce back Saturday

By Tim Stried, SID
October 15, 2000

The Manchester College Spartans visit Salzman Stadium Saturday afternoon in another Heartland Conference match-up as both the guests and host Bluffton College squad look to rebound with a victory following tough losses last Saturday. Saturday's game is highlighted by a Parents Day ceremony as 15 BC seniors hope to make their last time on the field with their parents a special one.

Bluffton was dealt a disappointing 24-15 loss at Hanover College last Saturday that saw the Beavers win the battle of the statistics but fall short on the scoreboard. Bluffton out-gained Hanover 375-316 in total offense and held possession of the football for 34:23 compared to just 25:37 for the Panthers. The Bluffton defense gave up just 51 yards rushing, intercepted three passes and gave up just three points the entire second half, but the BC offense found the end zone just once the entire game.

However, Bluffton's chances at the Heartland Conference championship are still alive. Should BC win their remaining three league games, the Beavers will sit atop the HCAC standings with Hanover and Defiance with one league loss each.

Senior Tyson Goings was named the Heartland Conference Offensive Player of the Week last week as he rushed for a season-high 219 yards on 39 carries, giving him 3,751 yards for his career. He is 867 yards behind Greg Gilcrease on the BC career rushing list, and 984 yards behind the career leader, Elbert Dubenion. Goings is averaging 157.8 yards rushing per game this season, ranked first in the league in the top ten in the country.

Senior Brandon Cupples booted two field goals against Hanover, including a new HCAC-record 49-yarder as time expired in the first half. That effort was just two yards short of the Bluffton record, set by Hugo Sandberg in 1986 when he nailed a 51-yarder against Anderson. Cupples added a 39-yarder in the third quarter.

Manchester is coming off a 21-12 loss at home to Heartland Conference leader Defiance College, who is still undefeated and who hosts Bluffton on November 11. The Spartans have dropped four straight and are 0-2 in the HCAC after going 0-7 in the league and 2-8 overall last season.

The Manchester offense ranks sixth in the conference in total offense and seventh in scoring offense, but receivers Darren Reed (#80) and Darin Holsopple (#1) are having fine seasons and pose a threat the Bluffton secondary, which has picked off nine passes so far this season (second best in the HCAC). The Manchester defense leads the conference in quarterback sacks, having registered 16 takedowns in the first five games.

Bluffton continues to lead the conference in scoring offense and total offense, but the loss of receiver Luke Habegger to a broken leg in the Mount St. Joseph game has proven to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. Quarterback Brad Moore has been held to just over 100 yards passing the past two games but continues to lead the HCAC in pass efficiency with a 172.2 rating, which ranks him sixth in the nation. Should that number hold up for the rest of the season it would be a new BC record. In addition, Moore has thrown just two interceptions in 150 pass attempts this season, which would be the lowest number for a Beaver starting quarterback since Cliff Hemmert threw just two interceptions during the entire 1988 season.

Bluffton will travel to Franklin College next Saturday before returning to Salzman Stadium on November 4 against Thomas More.