Bluffton vs. Franklin preview
Bluffton University vs. Franklin College
When: Saturday, September 29, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Bluffton, Ohio - Salzman Stadium
On the Radio: Listen live to Bluffton University football on WDOH 107.1 FM.
Bluffton University welcomes Franklin College for the 2007 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener between the 0-3 Beavers and the 2-1 Grizzlies.
The Head Coaches
Greg Brooks is currently in his fifth year as the head coach of the Bluffton University football team. The Beavers have put together a 13-30 mark during Brooks' tenure at the helm. He previously served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Bluffton, leading the Beavers to their best offensive seasons in school history.
Seeking to rebuild a winning tradition at Franklin College, Mike Leonard was appointed the school's 17th head football coach in January of 2003. After just four seasons, the Grizzlies have emerged as serious contenders for the HCAC championship following a 9-1 season a year ago when their only loss was to three-time defending champion Mt. St. Joseph. Prior to taking the reins of the Grizzlies program, Leonard served as offensive coordinator for his alma mater, Hanover College, from the 1999 through 2002 seasons.
Bluffton-Franklin Series History
Bluffton has a 5-5 record in its 10 games against Franklin College. The Grizzlies have won all four meetings since Leonard took over at Franklin, including a 31-7 victory a year ago.
Last Week's Contests
The Bluffton University football team took advantage of two early Kalamazoo turnovers to take the early 13-7 lead with 13:51 to play in the first half, but the Hornets were undaunted and they limited Bluffton to a 96-yard Taylor Iceman (Lucas/Lucas) interception return while racking up 30 points during the final three quarters for a 37-19 victory over the visitors on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007.
After a quick three-and-out to start the contest, Bluffton recovered a fumbled punt by Kalamazoo at the 11-yard line. Three plays later, junior quarterback Kyle Coleman (Etna/Watkins Memorial) gave Bluffton its second touchdown of the 2007 campaign with his one-yard plunge.
Another three-and-out forced Bluffton to punt the ball with just over a minute to play in quarter one. On Kalamazoo's first play from scrimmage, Sam McCullough (Bluffton/Bluffton) came up with a huge interception at the home 28 and he returned it all the way to the five-yard line before he was pushed out of bounds. The Beavers appeared to have been stopped on fourth and inches when a defensive offside penalty gave them another chance. Freshman Cameron Campeau (Pfafftown, N.C.) was met in the backfield, but he bulled his way across the goal line, giving Bluffton a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Jon Rea parted the uprights with a 22-yard field goal to cap another five-minute Hornet possession with 5:35 to play in the third quarter, making the score 24-13.
Bluffton's Kyle Coleman was intercepted to start the next drive, but with Kalamazoo knocking at the door, Iceman picked off Jordan Tallman at the Bluffton four-yard line and went the distance for a 96-yard interception return that cut the deficit to 24-19. Iceman's 96-yard return broke the previous Bluffton record of 90 yards set by Rod Eaton against Findlay in 1968.
The Hornets tacked on two quick touchdowns in a three-minute span to open the fourth quarter putting the game out of reach for a 37-19 victory over the Beavers while avenging their 17-14 loss at Salzman Stadium a year ago.
Kalamazoo piled up 27 first downs and 485 yards of offense, including 398 yards and 20 first downs through the air. Bluffton struggled offensively, picking up only 10 first downs and 140 yards, 118 of which were on the ground. The Beavers struggled to find any rhythm in their passing game, completing 4-of-21 attempts with two interceptions. The Kalamazoo offense was on the field for over 35 minutes and it took a toll on the Bluffton defense which saw 80 plays in the contest. The Hornets took advantage on third down, going 10-for-15 and limiting Bluffton to a 3-of-13 performance.
Sam McCullough led the Bluffton defense with a whopping 21 tackles, including 14 solos, two sacks and an interception which set up the Beavers' second touchdown. Iceman picked up eight stops to go along with his 96-yard interception return for a touchdown. Junior Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) chipped in with three sacks and sophomore Kyle Spence (Rushylvania/Benjamin Logan) finished with 2.5 tackles for loss.
A.J. Ramthun (Springfield/Southeastern) took back four kickoffs for 128 yards, including a 48-yarder to start the game. Sophomore Greg Mason led the Beavers on the ground with 54 yards on 15 carries.
Franklin 38, Tri-State 14
The Grizzlies scored all their points in six of their first seven possessions and
improved to 2-1 after their 38-14 rout of non-conference football foe Tri-State University
in their home opener at Faught Stadium.
Franklin quarterback Chad Rupp (Evansville, Ind./Memorial H.S.) threw four touchdown passes, including three in the first quarter, and ran for another in the closing seconds of the first half to spark the Grizzlies' onslaught.
The junior completed 20 of 29 passes for 287 yards on the day. In three games this season, Rupp has yet to toss an interception while completing 72 percent of his passes for 697 yards and nine scores.
Senior running back R.J. Hartsfield (Salem, Ind./H.S.) had another productive afternoon, leading all rushers with 68 yards on 18 carries. He also had three receptions for 59 yards and made one kickoff return for 24 yards, totaling 151 all-purpose yards. FC split end Adam Mellencamp (Freetown, Ind./Brownstown Central H.S.) led all receivers with six catches for 82 yards.
While Franklin's offense lit up the scoreboard, the Griz's defense kept a zero stuck on the guest's side of it through the first three quarters. Sparking the defensive charge were senior linebackers Matt Taylor (Indianapolis, Ind./H.S.) (nine tackles) and Lance Pickrell (Frankfort, Ind./H.S.) (eight tackles). Senior cornerback Chris Kramer (Holland, Ind./Southridge H.S.) had seven tackles, an interception with an 11-yard return and two pass break-ups.
Leading the Beavers
Sophomore tailback Greg Mason (Cleveland/Collinwood) leads the Beavers with 79 yards rushing. Sophomore quarterback Brock Miller has completed 16-of-28 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown in the opener against Centre College. Joel Sienicki is pacing the Bluffton receivers with 10 receptions for 79 yards and the Beavers' only receiving touchdown. Mike Brown and Drew Lovelace have six and five receptions, respectively, through the first three contests.
Two-time first team All-HCAC linebacker Sam McCullough has a team-high 44 stops, including 22 solos, three sacks, two interceptions and a blocked punt. Senior safeties Taylor Iceman and Ryan Christy have chipped in with 21 and 18 tackles, respectively. Kyle Rode has anchored the defensive line with 16 tackles, including four sacks and fumble recovery.
Next up for the Beavers and Grizzlies
Bluffton travels to Manchester College for the first of back-to-back Heartland Conference road contests on Saturday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in North Manchester, Indiana. Franklin welcomes Anderson University for its 2007 Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 1:30 p.m.