Franklin 49, Bluffton 26
Franklin dominates second quarter in 49-26 win at Bluffton
September 17, 2011
By: Josh Bruner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team hosted Franklin College in their HCAC opener on Saturday, Sept. 17. A 28-7 scoring binge in the second quarter gave the Grizzlies a 42-14 lead at the break. The Beavers battled back in the final quarter as they added 12 points while holding the Grizzlies scoreless, but the push was not enough as Bluffton fell by a final count of 49-26. The loss dropped Bluffton to 0-3 overall with a 0-1 record in the HCAC. Franklin improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the HCAC after the win.
The Beaver defense came up big to start the game as it forced a fumble on the Grizzlies' first play from scrimmage and came up with an interception on the second drive. Justin Hahn (Rocky River) recovered the fumble forced by Jake Luthy (Ida, Mich./Ida) and Hahn pulled in the interception on the Franklin eight-yard line just five minutes later. Bluffton came up empty as the home team failed to parlay the turnovers into points. The Grizzlies took advantage and pounded the ball down the field for the first touchdown of the game.
The Beaver offense was again held at a standstill as they went three-and-out which led to another Franklin touchdown, giving the Grizzlies an early 14-0 lead. The Beavers responded quickly as a 33-yard Chris Byrd (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Univ. Prep) pass to Todd Trotter (Cincinnati/Aiken University) set up a two-yard Byrd rush into the end zone as the first quarter expired. Bluffton trailed 14-7 at the end of the first stanza.
The Grizzlies continued to move the chains as their second drive of the second quarter ended with another touchdown. The Beavers answered the touchdown to keep the game within a score. Tyler Wright (Troy) connected with Jason A. Johnson (Lansing, Mich./Lansing Eastern) for a 74-yard touchdown pass to put the score at 21-14 in favor of the Grizzlies with under eight minutes left in the half.
The Grizzlies offense continued to dictate the action as the visitors added another three touchdowns in less than five minutes while building a 42-14 lead at the half.
Franklin carried the momentum forward into the third quarter, shutting down the Bluffton offense on the first possession of the half. The Grizzlies pushed the ball down the field following the stop and added another seven points to the lead, making it 49-14 with less than 10 minutes left in the third.
The Beavers ended the third quarter on a high note. They drove the ball into the red zone thanks to a 23-yard Byrd run. A three-yard Airic Steagall (Hillsboro) rush put the ball on the Franklin four as the third quarter came to an end.
Bluffton took just two plays to find the end zone when a Byrd completion to Shawn Frost (Edison/Mt. Gilead) resulted in a touchdown. The failed extra point brought the lead down to 49-20 just 10 seconds into the final quarter. The Beaver defense was up to the task as it held the Grizzlies on a fourth down attempt to regain the ball on the home 38-yard line.
Byrd and Trotter connected twice in the drive for 38 yards. Jason Brown (Napoleon) capped the possession with a five-yard run up the middle for another six points. The Beaver spurt made the score 49-26 with 10 minutes left in the game. The Grizzlies managed to waste six minutes of the clock on the next drive, before again coming up short on a fourth down attempt. Bluffton drove the field with the clock winding down, but came up just short at the Franklin one as time expired.
Franklin had the advantage as they outgained Bluffton 589 to 402 total yards. It marked the first time the Beavers have gone over 400 yards since Sept. 26, 2009, when Bluffton put 456 yards up on Kalamazoo. The Grizzlies threw for 330 yards, and rushed for 259 yards for the game. The Beavers finished with 135 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air. The visitors proved to be more efficient as they went 5-of-6 in the red zone, while the Beavers scored on three of their six attempts. Bluffton struggled on third down, converting on 8-of-17 opportunities. Franklin made good on 11-of-16 third down attempts.
The Beaver offense was led by Byrd who threw for 167 yards and one touchdown, going 13-of-19. Byrd also carried for 67 yards and one score. Steagall added 37 rushing yards for the Beavers. Johnson led the team with six catches for 116 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown. Trotter added 75 yards on four catches. The Bluffton defense was led by Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) who stopped the Grizzlies nine times and also had a sack. Luthy added seven stops, one for a loss. Birchel Ralph (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) chipped in with six tackles.
The Beavers will be on the road next Saturday, September 24. They travel to Mount St. Joseph to continue HCAC action with the Lions. The contest is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.