Centre 14, Bluffton 9
Beavers drop season opener to Centre, 14-9, at Salzman Stadium
September 1, 2007
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team kicked off its 2007 campaign against Centre College in the friendly confines of Salzman Stadium on a sunny and mild Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007. In a game that was touted as a showcase of premier defenses, the Colonels held on for a slim 14-9 victory in the season opener for both teams. Saturday's contest marked the fourth straight year the Beavers and Colonels have locked horns in game one and it was the third straight Centre victory after the Beavers won 33-24 in 2004 at Bluffton.
Bluffton had its chances early in the first quarter thanks to a couple of big plays by the defense. Sam McCullough (Bluffton/Bluffton) broke through the line to block the Colonels' punt on their first possession. A first down completion to tailback A.J. Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) gave the Bluffton faithful hope, but a sack by Tyler Boron halted the drive, giving the ball back to Centre.
On the Colonels' ensuing drive, McCullough again came up the turnover, picking off Jarrod Williams on only the second play from scrimmage. The Beavers rode tailback tandem Ramthun and Cameron Campeau (Pfafftown N.C./Kettering Fairmont) to the Centre 12 before Jonathan Thompson (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) put Bluffton on top with a 29-yard field goal.
A 37-yard strike from Williams to Tyler Hinkel put Centre at the home 13-yard line on the Colonels' next possession. Chase Porter hit paydirt from six-yards out to give Centre a 7-3 lead with 2:17 left in the opening stanza.
After a three-and-out by the Bluffton offense, Centre fashioned a 16-play 67-yard drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes off the clock. With the Colonels at the Bluffton nine-yard line, Mitch Agner (Leipsic/Leipsic) broke through untouched and forced what appeared to be a Centre fumble that Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) picked up in stride with no one between him and the end zone. The officials ruled that the quarterback was down and spotted the ball at the 14-yard line. A defensive holding penalty gave Centre a first down at the seven and Josh Ware found a crease to silence the Bluffton fans and give Centre a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Beavers forced Centre into five consecutive three-and-outs to open the second half, but they could not take advantage until late in the fourth quarter when Campeau and Ed Jackson (Dayton/Northridge) combined to move the chains three times en route to a nine-yard touchdown reception by junior tight end Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) who came down with the ball after Centre got a hand on it.
Another Colonels' three-and-out gave the Beavers' offense a chance to get on the field, but Boron picked off Brock Miller deep in Bluffton territory and ran the clock out for a 14-9 victory over the Beavers in the 2007 season opener for both teams.
Bluffton picked up 14 first downs compared to only 10 for Centre, but the Beavers managed only 179 yards of offense. The Bluffton defense held Centre to 202 yards for the contest. On third down opportunities, Bluffton converted on 8-of-20 chances, while the defense held Centre to only 3-of-14 conversions. Bluffton went 3-of-4 on fourth down for the game.
Campeau led the Beavers with 43 yards on the ground while sophomore quarterback Brock Miller (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) completed 7-of-15 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Sienicki and Drew Lovelace (Trumansburg, N.Y./C.U. Dickerson) both hauled in four receptions for 36 and 35 yards respectively. McCullough picked up where he left off last season, ending the day with a game-high 15 tackles, a blocked punt and an interception. Kyle Spence (Rushylvania/Benjamin Logan) and Gordon Hagen (Toledo/Libbey) both chipped in with seven stops for the Beavers.
Bluffton will use its bye week to prepare for Adrian College which travels to Salzman Stadium for a match-up with the Beavers at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 15.