BLUFFTON, Ohio – Defiance used a 32-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation to match Bluffton at 17-17 and capped a 17-0 spurt by striking for a touchdown in the first overtime session for a 24-17 lead, before ultimately suffering a 27-24 loss in the second overtime period.
Turnovers were the story in the 88th all-time meeting between DC and the Beavers on the gridiron, as the teams combined for 10 giveaways on the afternoon. Defiance coughed it up six times, losing three fumbles and hurling a trio of interceptions.
The first miscue of the afternoon came on the third play from scrimmage for Defiance, as a fumble was recovered by Bluffton on the DC 26-yard marker. The home squad capitalized with a 40-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead just over two minutes into the contest.
The Purple and Gold answered with an extended drive on the next touch, marching 80 yards on 14 plays and taking a 7-3 lead on a six-yard touchdown reception from Garrett Teague to Brian Mircovich.
The Defiance lead would hold until the final moments of the opening half, as an errant DC pass was intercepted by Bluffton and returned seven yards to the Yellow Jacket 48-yard line. Bluffton cashed in the free chance on its next play, striking for a 48-yard touchdown through the air to take a 10-7 lead into the break.
Two more turnovers to start the third would put Defiance in a deeper hole, as Bluffton turned away the Jackets by intercepting a pass in the end zone on DC's first possession to keep a 10-7 lead. A fumbled punt return on Defiance's next chance then handed the ball to the Beavers on DC's 16-yard marker, where BU reached the end zone on the next play for a 17-7 cushion.
A trio of turnovers in four snaps opened the fourth quarter, as an interception from Matt Forry and a fumble recovery from Leroy Cheatham sandwiched a Defiance fumble. The Bluffton fumble was forced by D.J. Brigham on a sack and returned 50 yards for a touchdown by Cheatham to narrow the gap to 17-14 with 13:48 showing on the clock.
The Jackets would get one final shot when they took over on downs on their own 29-yard line with 1:11 left to play. Consecutive completions from Teague to Jon Carrabino and Andre Doran moved the ball to the DC 42, before Mircovich hauled in a 43-yard reception on the Bluffton 15-yard marker.
Defiance would miss on a final shot into the end zone, before turning to Spencer Saunders with six seconds left in the game. Saunders split the uprights from 32 yards out with two ticks left on the clock to draw the Jackets even at 17-17 and force DC's first overtime contest since opening the 2010 campaign with a double overtime loss at Muskingum.
The two sides traded touchdowns in the first overtime, with Defiance striking first on a 14-yard touchdown catch by Carrabino and Bluffton answering four plays later to force a second overtime.
Defiance then held the Beavers to a field goal to set the stage for a chance to win with a touchdown on its possession. DC opened the drive with a five-yard rush, before losing a pair on second down. Facing a third and seven, the Jackets were bitten by a turnover one final time, as Bluffton intercepted the final pass of the afternoon on the two-yard line to hold off DC in the 27-24 contest.
Matt Forry led the Defiance defense in the losing effort, posting a career-high 13 tackles, 1.5 hits for lost yardage, one forced fumble and one interception. Andrew Leverenz capped his spectacular season with nine stops to go with two sacks and three hits for lost yardage.
Forry ended his season and career with a team-leading 65 tackles on the year, while Leverenz finished with a team-leading 21 tackles for lost yardage and 10.5 sacks.
On the offensive side of the ball, Mircovich and Carrabino each caught one touchdown pass, with Mircovich hauling in six passes for 81 yards and Carrabino catching five balls for 76 yards.
Defiance ends the year with a 2-8 overall clip and a 2-6 mark in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The game capped the careers of DC's 14 seniors.