Bluffton gunning for 2nd HCAC win in a row on Parents Day
October 24, 2001
Setting the scene
Bluffton College hopes to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season as the Beavers host Heartland Conference foe Franklin College Saturday afternoon on Parents Day in Salzman Stadium. After starting out this season 0-2, Bluffton (3-4, 2-2 HCAC) has won three of their last five games and now ranks second in the league in total defense.
Franklin (2-5, 1-2 HCAC) has dropped three straight hard-fought games, including the last two against teams that are still undefeated. On Oct. 13 the Grizzlies led Thomas More (7-0) 13-0 before the Saints rallied for a 63-13 win, and last Saturday Franklin trailed HCAC-leader Defiance (7-0) just 7-0 at halftime before falling 27-7.
Bluffton leads the all-time series against Franklin 3-1. These two teams met for the first time in 1956 (a 27-14 BC win at Harmon Field), but then didn't hook up again until 1998 when both teams became members of the new Heartland Conference. Franklin won that game 28-21 in Indiana, but BC has won the last two meetings 28-7 and 24-14.
BC Head Coach Carlin Carpenter is 98-117-1 in his 23rd season at Bluffton College. Franklin is led by Head Coach Bill Unsworth, who owns a 16-21 record in his fourth season with the Grizzlies.
October 28, 2000: Bluffton 24, Franklin 14. The Beavers trailed 14-7 heading into the fourth quarter last year at Franklin, but BC scored 17 unanswered points in the final 13 minutes of the game to pull out a 24-14 victory. BC held Franklin to just 29 yards rushing and 148 yards passing in the game, and on the Grizzlies' final seven possessions, BC picked off three passes, caused a fumble, blocked a field goal, and then held on downs.
Quarterback Brad Moore rushed for two touchdowns (both on one-yard sneaks) and senior Tyson Goings rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries. Moore passed for 154 yards and a TD to Jovan Johnson, who caught four passes for 68 yards.
Bluffton scored on its first four possessions en route to a 38-3 HCAC win at Manchester last Saturday to get within one game of the .500 mark. Jovan Johnson rushed for 115 yards and Brad Moore passed for 164 yards and a TD, while the BC defense held the Spartans to under 200 yards in total offense. Chris Sommers collected 18 tackles to pick up HCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, while Ben Schwab intercepted two passes.
Franklin, meanwhile, went up against their second straight undefeated opponent and played well, but came up a bit short on the scoreboard as the Grizzlies fell 27-7 at home to HCAC leader Defiance. The potent Franklin passing attack was held to just 140 yards through the air as Defiance held the football for nearly twice as long as Franklin and racked up 411 yards in total offense. Franklin held Defiance out of the endzone until just 10 seconds before halftime as the Yellow Jackets scored the games' first points on an eight-yard TD run.
Franklin doesn't mind the road
Franklin has the luxury of six home games this season, but so far the Grizzlies' only two road games have also been their only two victories. Franklin is 0-5 at home in 2001, but a perfect 2-0 away from Stewart "Red" Faught Stadium.
On paper, the key matchup in this game appears to be the Franklin pass offense vs. the Bluffton pass defense. The Grizzlies have the league's third ranked aerial attack (282.6 ypg), while BC ranks second against the pass, allowing just 161.6 ypg. Despite the fact that Bluffton averages the fewest number of passing yards per game in the HCAC, BC quarterback Brad Moore ranks fourth in pass efficiency, which is an area that Franklin would like to get better in as Grizzly quarterbacks Jeremy Neibert and Eric Sabo have combined to throw 19 interceptions this season.
Bluffton's Jovan Johnson remains the HCAC's leading ground gainer and has rushed for over 100 yards in each game that he has started at tailback this season (five).
Other HCAC rankings
Thanks to a season-high 18 tackles last Saturday at Manchester, Bluffton's Chris Sommers has taken over the HCAC lead in tackles, averaging 10.4 stops per game. Bluffton ranks third in the league in scoring offense and scoring defense, and the Beavers ranks second in rushing offense (198.4 ypg). Bluffton now owns a +2 turnover margin on the year, while Franklin is -8 in that department.