Bluffton 23, thiel 20
Last minute heroics lift Bluffton to 23-20 win over Thiel
September 17, 2001
A 42-yard field goal with no time left on the clock capped off a frenzied final two minutes in Salzman Stadium Saturday as Bluffton College took a 23-20 win over Thiel College for the Beavers first win of the season.
Bluffton held a 20-6 lead over the Tomcats early in the fourth quarter, but two Thiel touchdowns erased that deficit to tie the score at 20-20 with 2:18 left in the game. But those 138 seconds would be all that BC needed to drive the football into field goal range to set up the game winning kick by Adam Burgess.
Following Thiel's game-tying TD with 2:18 left in the game, Bluffton's Marion Fitten returned the kickoff out to the 31-yard line with 2:09 left on the clock. Eight plays later BC was in field goal range, but without a timeout and the clock ticking away as Bluffton's field goal unit rushed onto the field. Tom Marshall's snap left his hands with just over one second remaining, and thanks to a good hold from quarterback Brad Moore and a strong kick from Burgess, BC players and fans erupted as the ball floated just over the crossbar with 0:00 showing on the clock.
The final drive covered 43 yards, with Moore completing passes to Ben Osterland for 14 yards, Jovan Johnson for 12 yards into Thiel territory and finally to Jamie Stevens for 10 yards, which was followed by a 5-yard facemask penalty on Thiel.
Johnson earned Heartland Conference co-Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the win. He ended the game with 168 yards rushing and a touchdown in his first collegiate start at running back and also caught two passes for 16 yards, returned three kickoffs for 70 yards and returned two punts for nine yards.
The defense came up with some big plays of their own during the game, including key interceptions from Jeff Company and Josh Slaughter. Company returned his pick 23 yards, while Slaughter brought his back 27 yards.
Following Slaughter's big play, Moore found Stevens behind the Thiel defense and hit him in stride for a 55-yard touchdown pass. Moore completed five of 12 passes in the game for 95 yards.
Outside linebacker Pat Craun had a big day for the Bluffton defense, as the sophomore collected 14 tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and added a pass breakup. Defensive end Brian Steiner collected 12 tackles (one behind the LOS), while linebackers Jon Richardson and Chris Sommers were in on nine tackles each. Four of Sommers' tackles were behind the line of scrimmage.
Bluffton will return to action on September 29 at Anderson University as the 2001 Heartland Conference schedule gets underway.