By: Griffin Kuras, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University football team took the field against the number two team in the HCAC, Mount St. Joseph, on a bitterly cold and windy Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Bluffton was looking for its fifth consecutive win, but fell just short in a 33-24 setback to the Lions. The Beavers slipped to 4-4 on the season with a 4-2 record in the Heartland Conference. The visitors continued their winning ways as they improved to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the conference.
The first stanza opened up slowly with both teams giving up their early possessions to three and outs. MSJ got points on the board late in the first quarter on a 20-yard field goal off the foot of Shane Kelly after the Beavers stopped a strong Lion drive. The beavers responded in a strong way coming down the field on an 11 play drive as Nick Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) connected on a beautiful pass over the middle to one of his favorite targets, Micah Roberson (Ada), who powered through three defenders for his first touchdown on the season.
Greg Simpson, who took the majority of snaps as the MSJ quarterback, had a strong day as he drove the ball against the Beaver defense. Early in the second quarter, Denzel Norvell punched in a two-yard scoring rush to give the lead back to MSJ. Following a muffed kickoff, the Lions took over at Bluffton's 33-yard line in great field position. It required just three plays for Simpson to find Leonard Riston (Cincinnati) on a spectacular pitch and catch for six as Riston elevated over the defender to come down with the difficult reception. Bluffton answered with a field goal by Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) just before halftime as MSJ went to the break on top 17-10.
Simpson continued his superb work as MSJ opened up the second half scoring with a play action pass that left Ronnell Colbert wide open for a 48-yard touchdown at the 10:03 mark in the third stanza. Roberson caught another quick pass in the corner of the end zone as the Beavers continued to try and battle back.
MSJ added to its lead with another field goal at the end of the third as Kelly knocked down the 35-yarder with ease. The Beavers were unwilling to give up as Sheehan hooked up with touchdown machine Donovan Brown (Cincinnati/Purcell Marian) on a 40-yard catch as Brown caught the pass and then stumbled into the end zone. The Lions put the nail in the coffin when they scored their final touchdown with 1:27 left in the contest on a 12-yard toss from Simpson to Riston.
Sheehan aired it out 32 times, completing 16 of his attempts with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Roberson had another nice day, hauling in seven catches, including two touchdowns. Fisher went for 64 yards on 23 carries as Bluffton struggled to run the ball much of the afternoon.
Ben Schamp (St. Marys/Memorial) led the team with a career-high 10 tackles, adding a forced fumble. Ty White (Orrville) had an interception, his HCAC-best fourth of the season, and a pass breakup to go along with seven tackles. Junior defensive end Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria) added two sacks.
Mount St. Joseph finished with 395 yards of offense, compared to 262 for the Beavers. The Lions ended with a 214-41 edge on the ground. MSJ moved the chains 10 times on third down, while Bluffton converted just 4-of-14.
The Beavers hit the road next Saturday as they look to get back to their winning ways against the Anderson University Ravens. The kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 on November 8.