bc 27, marietta 28
Missed opportunities prove costly as Bluffton falls 28-27 in season opener at MariettaSeptember 7, 2002
[ Game Statistics ]
Bluffton College failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities and saw the Marietta College offense come alive in the second half as the Beavers dropped their 2002 season opener 28-27 at Marietta's Don Drumm Stadium Saturday afternoon.
It would be hard to pin the loss on normal first-game mistakes. After all, Bluffton didn't commit a turnover, held possession of the football for 37 minutes compared to just 23 for Marietta, and out-gained the Pioneers 400-318 in total offense.
Bluffton's missed opportunities began at the end of the first half as quarterback Brad Moore's five-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left before halftime would have put the Beavers up 21-0 at the intermission. It was negated by a holding penalty, however, forcing Bluffton to settle for a field goal attempt, which was blocked. Bluffton's first drive of the second half resulted in another blocked field goal, and finally the extra point was missed following BC's final touchdown.
Bluffton dominated the first half en route to a 14-0 halftime lead. The BC offense rolled up 240 yards and held the football for 22 out of the 30 minutes. The Beaver defense was even more impressive, as the Pioneers were held to just 50 yards and two first downs while failing to cross midfield.
The second half was a completely different story, however, as Marietta scored touchdowns on four of their five possessions and passed for 226 yards. Pioneer quarterback Justin Papania stole the show as the ran for two TDs and three two more, the last of which came with just 39 seconds left in the game on a pass that was tipped around in the endzone between to Marietta receivers and two Bluffton defenders before it finally came to rest in the arms of Joe Tomei to tie the game. The extra point was good to give Marietta the one-point lead.
The Beavers did manage to put a drive together in the waning seconds of the game, but a 53-yard field goal attempt was wide right as time expired.
Junior running back Jovan Johnson hauled in a six-yard TD pass from Moore with 13:29 remaining in the second quarter to get the scoring started, then junior fullback Scott Flathers scored from one-yard out to give the Beavers their 14-0 lead at halftime.
After 21 straight points by Marietta to start the second half, Moore scored on touchdown runs of three yards and one yard on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to give Bluffton the lead at 27-21 before the Pioneers would mount their game-winning drive.
Junior linebacker Chris Sommers led the defense with 10 tackles and one forced fumble. Sophomore linebacker Scott Steiner totaled eight tackles and senior defensive back Cam Staley and junior defensive end Lucas Wilson both collected six stops. Sophomore Matt Chiles had five tackles and a one-handed interception on the sideline in the first half.
Freshman running back Ben Dodds led the BC running attack with 66 yards on just seven carries, while Moore ran for 62 yards on 17 attempts and passed for 194 yards on 17-of-28 passing with no interceptions and one TD. Johnson churned out 54 yards on the ground and caught six passes for 45 yards and a score and returned four kickoffs for 151 yards, including an 88-yard return to set up a score. Junior Jimmy Dwenger hauled in four passes for a team-high 57 yards receiving.
Bluffton will host Hiram College next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Salzman Stadium for the Beavers' 2002 home opener.