Bluffton 14, Manchester 9
Beavers make most of Homecoming with 14-9 victory over Manchester College
October 7, 2006
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team improved to 2-0 at Salzman Stadium in 2006 with its 14-9 Homecoming victory over Heartland Conference rival Manchester on Saturday, October 7, 2006. With the victory, the Beavers upped their record to 2-3, 1-1 HCAC, while the Spartans fell to 1-4, 0-2 HCAC.
Manchester took advantage of a quick three and out on the Beavers first possession as the Spartans took over at their own 43 following a 37-yard punt by Kyle Coleman (Etna/Watkins Memorial) midway through the first quarter. The Spartans fashioned a 10-play, 57-yard drive which was capped by a Brandon Wells 4-yard touchdown scamper with 3:34 to play in the opening quarter. The extra point went wide left, giving the Spartans a 6-0 margin.
Bluffton took advantage of a 16-yard A.J. Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) return on the ensuing kickoff to start its drive at the home 31. Jared Owens (Van Wert/Crestview) moved the ball on the ground and through the air as the Beavers moved the chains five times over the course of seven minutes before sophomore Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) hauled in a three-yard scoring pass four minutes into quarter two. An intentional grounding penalty on Bluffton's next possession forced a 48-yard Justin Guy (Oregon/Clay) field goal try which came up short.
Manchester stormed its way down the field on its final possession of the half before junior safety Taylor Iceman (Lucas/Lucas) intercepted a Brandon Wells pass at the goal-line with 25 seconds to play. Bluffton took a knee and went into halftime with a slim, 7-6, lead.
On the first drive of the second half, the Beavers coughed up the football at the Bluffton 43-yard line, giving Manchester a short field to work with. Spartans quarterback Joel Hawkins led the Spartans to the eight-yard line before the Bluffton defense forced Manchester to kick a 23-yard field goal for a two-point lead over the Beavers, 9-7.
The Beavers put together an 11-play, 42-yard drive early in the fourth quarter, but when the 36-yard field goal attempt was tipped at the line, Bluffton still trailed by two points with only five minutes remaining. The stout Beaver defense was up to the task as it stuffed the Spartan rushers on three straight plays forcing Manchester to punt with three minutes and change remaining in the contest. Owens completed passes to Rustin Pickett (Urbana/Urbana), Michael Brown (N. Wales Pa./Calvary Christian Academy) and Aaron Whitlock (Grove City/Central Crossing) as the Beavers marched down the field. A nine-yard scoring strike to Brown with less than 50 ticks remaining put the Beavers up, 14-9. Hawkins led the Spartans down the field, completing three passes, including a 22-yarder to Brandon Wells before Iceman picked off his second pass of the day in the endzone to preserve the 14-9 Bluffton Homecoming victory.
Ramthun picked up 65 yards on 16 carries to lead the Beavers on the ground. Owens completed 20-of-31 passing attempts with no interceptions for two touchdowns and 135 yards through the air. He also netted 51 yards on the ground, including an 18-yard pick-up. Terence Clayton (Napoleon/Napoleon) moved the chains with a 14-yard gain late in the third quarter. Whitlock paced the receiving corps with 10 catches for 66 yards, including a 15-yard reception. Brown hauled in four balls for 41 yards and a score while Sienicki made three catches for 16 yards and a touchdown.
Sam McCullough (Bluffton/Bluffton) lit up the Manchester offense with 17 tackles, including two TFL's for a loss of five yards. Erick Buddin (Ypsilanti, Mich/Ypsilanti) and Gordon Hagen (Toledo/Libbey) were in on seven stops apiece as the Beaver defense had to play most of the contest without All-HCAC performer Jeremy Anderson (South Rockwood/Airport High) who was injured early in the game. Iceman did his damage in the secondary, picking off two Spartan passes, one late in each half.
The Beavers picked up 20 first downs compared to only 14 for the Spartans. Offensively, Bluffton gained 269 yards while Manchester was close behind with 262. The two Spartan turnovers in the red zone proved to be the difference as the Beavers escaped with their second victory at home this season.
Bluffton returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 14, when it welcomes Heartland Conference rookie Rose-Hulman to Salzman Stadium for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.