Manchester 17, Bluffton 7
Manchester uses late turnover for 17-7 win over Beavers
October, 18, 2008
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team was driving for a go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter when a Manchester interception helped the Spartans to a 17-7 victory over the Beavers on a beautiful Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. Bluffton dropped to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Heartland Conference, while Manchester improved to 4-2 with a 2-1 mark in the HCAC.
Following two straight Bluffton three-and-outs to open the contest, Manchester fashioned a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive that Brandon Wells completed with a one-yard touchdown run late in the first period. Spartan quarterback Caleb Grimes completed four passes on the drive for 56 passes, setting up the Wells plunge into the end zone.
Bluffton's Mitch Agner (Leipsic/Leipsic) picked off Grimes early in the second stanza and Kyle Rode (Delphos/Jefferson) forced a Wells fumble on the Spartan's ensuing possession, giving the Beavers great field position at the visitor's 27-yard line. A 21-yard fade to Ross Shoup (Apple Creek/Waynedale) set up Bluffton at the one. Six plays later on fourth and goal, junior Brock Miller (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) took it in himself to knot the game at seven with 5:23 to play in the half.
A holding penalty on Bluffton's final drive of the first half kept the Beavers out of field goal range as Bluffton went to break deadlocked at seven.
Manchester tacked on a 23-yard field goal by Ian Fry with 6:12 to play in the third quarter as the Spartans took a 10-7 lead following three quarters of action.
The Beavers took over at the home 12-yard line following a Grimes punt with 13:50 to play in the game. Bluffton picked up three first downs, including a 39-yard Miller to Andrew Lovelace (Trumansburg, N.Y./Charles U. Dickerson) hookup on the Bluffton sideline. Joel Sienicki (Goshen, Ind./Northridge) hauled in an 11-yard strike from Miller over the middle before Trent Weisser picked Bluffton off at the Manchester 25-yard line and took it back 44 yards to the home 31 at the 8:43 mark of the fourth quarter.
It took the Spartans just five plays and 1:45 to make it 17-7 when Wells took it in from six yards out for his second score of the contest. The Beavers were unable to pick up a first down on their final two touches of the game and Brock Miller was forced out of the game when the Spartans' Beau Fulk was able to get a clean shot at him on Bluffton's first series following the Manchester touchdown.
Manchester picked up 19 first downs on the afternoon, compared to 11 for the home team. Bluffton went for 215 yards, including 175 through the air. The Spartans finished with 323 yards of total offense, including 183 on the ground. The time of possession was nearly equal with Manchester posting a slim 31:22 to 28:38 edge. Bluffton struggled to move the chains on third down, going 3-of-15, while Manchester converted on 7-of-13 chances and went 3-for-4 on red zone opportunities.
Miller went 13-of-24 for 159 yards and his primary target was Drew Lovelace who hauled in four receptions for 79 yards. Shoup added three catches for 40 yards.
Former quarterback Kyle Coleman (Etna/Watkins Memorial) led the Beavers with nine tackles, including six solos. Brandon Herr (Bluffton/Bluffton) and Mitch Agner added eight stops. Freshman Geoff Yost (North Canton/Jackson) chipped in with two tackles for a loss. Jordan Achterman (Bucyrus/Bucyrus) and Kyle Rode added seven tackles each.
Bluffton will make the trip to Rose-Hulman for the first of consecutive HCAC road contests on Saturday, Oct. 25. The game is slated to start at 1:30 p.m.