By: Griffin Kuras, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Beavers came into the day on a three-game winning streak, looking to make it four, at home, against the Manchester University Spartans, a school that nearly pulled off the upset of Franklin just three weeks ago before a two-point conversion gave the Grizzlies a 29-28 victory. The Beavers rolled off their fourth straight victory, 24-16, giving them a 4-3 record on the year with a superb 4-1 mark in the Heartland Conference. The Spartans left Bluffton with a 3-4 record (2-3 HCAC). It marks the first time Bluffton has won four consecutive games since late in the 2011 season.
The first quarter was an offensive struggle as neither team could get anything going. The tide turned in the second quarter when the Beavers really took control of the game. Freshman Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) opened the scoring early in the period with a 38-yard field goal. Dustin Fisher (St. Marys/Memorial) took the reins at running back this week in place of injured Eric Fox (Brunswick) and he had a phenomenal quarter, rushing for a 31-yard TD at the 11:28 mark and a 50-yard TD with 7:11 left in the half.
The third quarter played out much like the opening stanza as the defenses took over, forcing punts three times as the score remained 17-0 heading into the final period. The fourth quarter continued the rollercoaster of a game as the end zones were wide open again. Following three straight Nick Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) completions, back-to-back Dante Carroll (Gahanna/Lincoln) rushes added up to 28 yards and a touchdown.
Held scoreless for the first 50 minutes, Manchester came back with a vengeance, scoring 16 points with only eight minutes left in the fourth quarter to put the pressure on the Beavers late in the game. Quarterback Logan Haston engineered the comeback with a crisp 5-yard strike on a slant route to Matt Wirick (Granger, Ind). Desperate for points the Spartans were forced to go for two. Collin Huffine caught a wide-open pass giving the Spartans eight points. With only 28 seconds left in the game, Haston found Evan Rice for their second touchdown of the day. Once again the Spartans lined up for two as Haston found Huffine again for an extra two points, making it a one score game at 24-16. A failed onside kick that squirted out of bounds put that hope to rest as the Beavers came out in victory formation and closed out the Spartans.
The bulk of the carries were split between Fisher and Carroll. Fisher had 19 runs for a career-best 148 yards and two scores, while Carroll added 12 carries for 59 yards and a score. Sheehan connected with six different receivers, completing 22-of-32 passes for 206 yards. Jack Tomlinson (Westerville, South) hauled in seven catches for 77 yards with a long of 23 yards. Micah Roberson (Ada) chipped in with six catches for 61 yards.
Senior Brad Swavel (Marion/Ridgedale) was outstanding with 12 tackles; one of them for a 2-yard loss. Miguel Alicia (Westerville/South) grabbed an interception early, deep in Bluffton territory. Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate) didn't shock anyone with another dominant game, racking up five tackles, a sack and a QB hurry.
Bluffton finished with a 424-348 edge in total offense, including 218-132 on the ground. The Beavers held the ball for over 35 minutes and forced two Manchester turnovers. Both teams were 6-of-15 on third downs and they combined to go 5-of-5 on fourth downs (2-of-2 for Bluffton).
The Community Service Initiative for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Programs is Samaritan's Feet. Each HCAC football program designates one home contest to be their Samaritan's Feet Game. Bluffton's contest was today as the Beavers hosted Manchester. Samaritan's Feet provides shoes and socks to a person in need. You can learn more about this great cause by visiting .
You can support Samaritan's Feet by donating new shoes, socks, or by giving monetarily. Fans dropped off their donation at Saturday's football game with Manchester. If you would still like to donate, you can do so at Chris Gable's desk in the Sommer Center. Samaritan's Feet wristbands are also available for purchase for $10.
You can catch the Beavers at home again next week when they welcome Mount St. Joseph on Saturday, Nov. 1. The opening kick is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Salzman Stadium.