October 21, 2017
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Bluffton University football team traveled to Manchester University on Saturday, Oct. 21, and came up just short, dropping their second straight road game by a 28-21 margin. Bluffton falls to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the Heartland Conference, while Manchester improved to 3-4 on the season and 2-3 in the HCAC.
The Spartans went up 14-0 less than 10 minutes into the contest when Dillon Nelson picked off Bluffton and took it 70 yards to the house with 5:55 to play in the opening stanza. Freshman Plummie Gardner (Lima/Perry) cut the deficit in half when he capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a four-yard run to paydirt just over three minutes later. Junior Tyler Showalter (Haviland/Wayne Trace) answered Manchester's defensive score with a 30-yard pick six of his own with 4:20 to play in the second quarter, knotting the score at 14-14 heading to the break!
With Manchester back on top 20-14, freshman H-back Kais Chiles (Wapakoneta) hauled in a four-yard scoring strike from Brandon Koch (West Harrison, Ind./East Central), putting Bluffton up by a point thanks to the Jordan Watkins (Reynoldsburg) PAT conversion. The Spartans regained the lead midway through the final quarter when a nine-yard scoring run made the score 26-21. Jared Bourff then rolled to his left and hit a wide open Alex Downard in the right corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion and 28-21 spread.
The Beaver defense gave the visitors three more possessions, but Bluffton was unable to push it across the goal line as Manchester held on for the 28-21 win. The Spartans finished with 320 yards of offense, compared to 302 for the Beavers. Both teams struggled with just four third down conversions apiece. The Beavers went 2-of-3 on fourth down. Bluffton was flagged nine times for 70 yards, to just four and 40 for the home team.
Freshman Darian Greeley (Mt. Clemens, Mich./Chippewa Valley) went for 131 yards on 26 carries. Junior signal-called Brandon Koch completed 15-of-39 for 128 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Micah Roberson (Ada) hauled in nine catches for 78 yards.
Sophomore Dylan Shaffer (Shelby) and junior Austin Hall (Piqua) paced the Beaver defense with eight tackles apiece. Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) and Tyler Showalter both notched seven stops for the visitors.
Bluffton will be back at Alumni Field after two weeks on the road when the Beavers welcome Rose-Hulman for a 1:30 matchup on Saturday, Oct. 28. Come out and support your Beavers!