Bluffton 23, Kalamazoo 15
Beavers take down Kalamazoo 23-15 for first win under Coach Veidt
Sept. 27, 2008
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team literally picked off its first victory of the 2008 campaign over Kalamazoo College, 23-15, on Saturday, September 27, 2008. The Beavers came up with four interceptions while slowing the pass-happy Hornets in the home opener. With the victory, Bluffton improved to 1-2 while Kalamazoo fell to 1-3 on the season.
Bluffton struck first thanks to a field goal from Jonathan Thompson (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) with 3:38 left in the first quarter. The Beavers took over just 16 seconds later when freshman Alex Paul (Akron/Firestone) picked up Bluffton's second interception of the period. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Brock Miller (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) found Dan Chipka (Waterville/Anthony Wayne) for 16 yards and the first offensive touchdown of the year for the Beavers. Thompson cashed in the extra point as Bluffton ended the first quarter with a 10-0 lead.
The home team converted just one first down on its next two possessions, but Kalamazoo struggled to three consecutive punts during the second quarter. On Bluffton's next drive, a roughing the kicker call against the Hornets on fourth and two gave the Beavers a new life at the visitor's 30-yard line. Thompson took advantage when the offense stalled as he knocked his second field goal through the uprights with 3:17 to play in the half for a 13-0 lead.
Kalamazoo responded by marching 63 yards on 11 plays in 2:29 to cut the deficit to six points at the half. Adam Powers went in from five yards out following four Brandon Luczak completions on the drive.
A 58-yard kickoff return by senior Drew Lovelace (Trumansburg, NY/Charles U. Dickerson) to open the second half gave Bluffton the ball at the Kalamazoo 22-yard line. A 13-yard Jason Johnson (Cleveland/Collinwood) rush made it first-and-goal at the nine. Although the Hornets stood strong in the red zone, Thompson's 24-yard field goal made the score 16-7 less than three minutes into the quarter.
The Beavers turned the ball over on a botched punt and on downs late in the quarter, but Kalamazoo was unable to take advantage. A 10-yard Hornets' punt and a turnover on downs allowed Bluffton to maintain its nine-point spread into the final quarter.
With freshman Jason Johnson churning up yardage and breaking tackles throughout the second half, the Beavers opened up a 23-7 lead when Joshua Tanner (Copley/Copley) recovered a Bluffton fumble in the end zone with 10 minutes to play in the contest.
Kalamazoo answered on its ensuing possession as the Hornets went 57 yards on 12 plays. Luczak found Ryan Bizzis for the three-yard touchdown strike before he shoved it in himself for two points to make the score 23-15 in favor of the home team.
An interception by sophomore Mitch Dunlap (St. Mary's/St. Mary's) on Kalamazoo's next touch and a sack by Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) and Aaron Jenkins (St. Paris/Graham) on the game's final play sealed Bluffton's first victory under Coach Veidt in his third contest at the helm.
Bluffton used a balanced attack in putting up 376 yards of total offense. The Beavers gained 182 yards on 48 rushes while limiting Kalamazoo to just 115 yards on the ground. The home team threw for 194 yards including a 13-of-29 performance by junior Brock Miller that netted 155 yards. Sophomore Ben Ilnicki (Indianapolis, Ind./Brebauf Preparatory) completed one pass for 39 yards to Drew Lovelace late in the third stanza. Bluffton controlled the clock to the tune of 40 minutes for the Beavers and just 20 minutes for the Hornets. The Beavers scored each of the five times they entered the red zone and they held Kalamazoo's potent offense to just 4-of-17 on third down conversions.
Johnson went for 100 yards on 22 carries with a long run of 23 yards. Zac Lauck (Cridersville/Wapakoneta) tallied 42 yards as Bluffton's starter in the backfield. Lovelace proved to be the difference-maker on both offense and special teams. He caught five balls for 109 yards and returned two kicks 78 yards, including his 58-yarder to open the second half. Dan Chipka, Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind. Northridge) and Antwane Miller (Canton/Timken) all caught two passes in the victory. Thompson was 3-of-4 on field goals and he just missed wide-right from 46 yards out with 4:36 to play in the game.
Senior Mitch Agner (Leipsic/Leipsic) paced the Beavers with six stops, while freshmen Dylan Moore (Greenwood, Ind./Greenwood Community) and Jacob Luthy (Ida, Mich./Ida) added five tackles each. Oscar Vazquez-Dyer (Findlay/Carey) and Jordan Achterman (Bucyrus/Bucyrus) both broke up two passes for the Beavers. The four Bluffton interceptions tied the school record which was last achieved at Defiance in the final 2007 contest against the Yellow Jackets.
Bluffton returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 4, when the Beavers host HCAC-power Mt. St. Joseph in the 2008 Homecoming contest. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. in Salzman Stadium.