Bluffton 17, Anderson 12
Bluffton defense gets the job done in 17-12 win over Anderson
October 15, 2011
By: Josh Bruner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team hosted the Ravens of Anderson on Saturday, October 15, looking to continue their winning ways. The Beavers entered the half with a 17-6 lead and defense proved to be the dominant factor in the third as neither team added to their total. The Ravens found the end zone late in the fourth, but it was not enough as Bluffton held on for its third straight win, 17-12.
It marks the first time since 2000 that Bluffton has won three consecutive games. The Beavers jumped to 3-4 overall, while going above .500 in the Heartland Conference with a 3-2 record. Anderson fell to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the HCAC.
The offenses got off to a slow start as both teams were forced to punt on their first drives. The Bluffton defense quickly put an end to the next Raven drive when junior defenstive end Preston Huddleston (Benton Harbor, Mich./Eau Claire) forced an Anderson fumble to give the Beavers the ball on the Anderson 29-yard line. The Bluffton offense was unable to convert on the field position as it was stopped on a fourth down attempt. The Beaver defense held strong once again, only allowing two yards on three plays.
The Beavers pounded the ball down the field and capped the possession off with a Tyler Wright (Troy) 39-yard run to paydirt. The Beavers took a 7-0 lead with 6:21 left in the first. Bluffton once again forced another three-and-out to give the offense the ball at the 3:10 mark.
The Bluffton offense started the second with the ball on Anderson's 33-yard line. Bluffton picked up two first downs before Austin Sweeney (Adrian, Mich./Whitmer) drilled a 33-yard field goal to give Bluffton a 10-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the half.
Following an eight-play, 22-yard drive by the visitors that resulted in a punt, the Beavers put together a nice drive that culminated with a reverse to Todd Trotter (Cincinnati/Aiken University) who found the end zone on a 39-yard scamper.
The Ravens responded quickly when J.T. Bouwman slipped through the Bluffton special teams for an impressive 89-yard kick return for the touchdown. Anderson's bad snap on the extra point led to a failed PAT as the Ravens made the score 17-6 at the break.
The Bluffton offense started the second half on a roll as it meticulously moved the ball down the field. The drive stalled out when Akeem Hill intercepted a Bluffton pass on fourth down. The Ravens quickly flipped the field when Nick Sharp connected with Torrance McCollum for an 80-yard pass play. The Beaver defense was up to the task, forcing AU back to the 20-yard line where the Ravens came up short on a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Anderson was whistled for two penalties to start the fourth, pushing them out of field goal range. Jason Brown (Napoleon) knifed through the Anderson defense for a 33-yard run to the Anderson nine-yard line. A holding penalty followed by a sack and a fumble forced the Beavers to punt.
The Ravens put together an impressive possession following the punt. Nick Sharp led the 80-yard drive, going 10-of-11 from the pocket, including a touchdown. The Ravens botched the two-point conversion and they trailed 17-12 with five minutes left in the game.
The Raven defense held the Beavers in check and finished the drive off with a Nate Moser interception on the home 33-yard line with 3:22 left to play. Anderson connected four times through the air to put the ball on the Bluffton 15-yard line, setting up a fourth and two. The Bluffton defensive line held strong, stuffing the run to give the Beavers the ball with just over a minute to play. Bluffton's Airic Steagall (Hillsboro) picked up one first down before going into the victory formation as the clock wound down with the scoreboard showing 17-12 in favor of the home team.
The Beavers finished with a slim 313-289 advantage in total yards. The Beavers dominated on the ground, piling up 256 yards. The Ravens connected for 241 yards through the air. The Beavers proved more disciplined as they were whistled for just four penalties, totaling 40 yards. The Ravens had seven penalties for 72 yards on the game.
The Beaver offense was led by Wright who went for 86 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The sophomore signal-caller hit on 3-of-10 passes on a blustery day for 43 yards. Following Wright on the ground was Brown with 68 yards for the Beavers. Leading the Bluffton receivers was Jason A. Johnson (Lansing, Mich./Lansing Eastern) who hauled in two catches for 37 yards.
The Bluffton defense was paced by sophomore Birchel Ralph (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) with 10 stops and one forced fumble. Jake Luthy (Ida, Mich./Ida) added eight tackles, while Justin Hahn (Rocky River) and Justin Crosier (Columbus/Hamilton Township) each added seven stops.
The Beavers continue HCAC action when they host the Engineers of Rose-Hulman at Salzman Stadium next Saturday, October 22. The Senior Day contest is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.