By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
FRANKLIN, Ind. - The Bluffton University football team attempted to make it back-to-back years with upset victories over the Franklin Grizzlies when the Beavers traveled to Franklin College on a warm Saturday, Sept. 27. Unfortunately for visitors, the Grizzlies had other ideas as they used a huge first half to take home a 54-21 victory over the Beavers on Saturday, Sept. 27 in Indiana. Franklin College remains undefeated in HCAC play with a 2-0 record and they sit 2-2 overall. The Bluffton Beavers fell to 0-1 in HCAC play and 0-3 overall following the bye week.
The Grizzlies started the game red-hot, scoring 41 first half points on six touchdowns in the opening 30 minutes. Four of those touchdowns came from the arm of quarterback Grant Welp, who threw for 311 yards in the half to go along with those four scores. The Beavers, on the other hand, were held to just 53 yards as a team, mustering only three first downs in the entire first half.
Following another Welp touchdown pass to begin the third quarter, the visitors were finally able to get the offense moving, beginning with a 66-yard touchdown run from senior Eric Fox (Brunswick) on the opening play of a drive to give the Beavers their first points of the afternoon. The Grizzlies would fumble on the ensuing kickoff, giving Bluffton the ball and just one play later, Nicholas Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) found fellow senior wideout JACK TOMLINSON (Westerville/South) for a 34-yard snag to pull the Beavers within 47-14.
The Grizzlies did not take much time to respond, however, as they traveled 58 yards over the next three plays to get one of the scores back. The Beavers responded with their longest drive of the contest, as they went 80 yards over 13 plays with sophomore Conner Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) completing five of his seven passes, including a two-yard completion to Donovan Brown (Cincinnati/Purcell Martin) for the Beavers' third and final touchdown of the day.
The Franklin College Grizzlies controlled the statistical categories as they outgained the visiting team 631-270, with 429 of those yards being through the air. The Beavers had 136 yards passing and 134 on the ground. The Grizzlies were also very efficient on third downs, as they converted on 9 of their 16 attempts, while Bluffton only converted one of its 13 tries.
Beaver senior tailback Eric Fox shined for the Beavers despite the loss, gaining 101 yards on 16 carries to go along with his touchdown. Senior wideout Jack Tomlinson caught nine passes for 112 yards and a score. The Sheehan brothers split the quarterback efforts, with the starter, senior Nick Sheehan going 10-for-23 for 90 yards with a touchdown. Younger brother Conner completed 6-of-9 for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Franklin College quarterback Grant Welp did the job for the Grizzlies, going 23-of-37 for 381 yards and five touchdowns, while his main targets were Mason Deal and Jonny Hession, who hauled in two touchdowns apiece. The Grizzlies also churned out 202 yards on the ground with eight different men rushing the ball throughout the contest.
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore Tyrone White (Orrville), senior Travaun Reaves (Berkley, Mich./Berkley) and senior Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) led the Beavers with seven tackles apiece. White also had an interception which he returned for 26 yards. Reaves forced a fumble that Swavel recovered in the fourth quarter.
The Beavers will return to action next Saturday, Oct. 4, for Homecoming as Bluffton will try to give Coach Dorrell his first win against his former team, the Hanover College Panthers. The contest is slated to kick off at 1:30 p.m. in Salzman Stadium. Come support your Beavers!