Beavers down Defiance 17-10 for fourth straight 'Hammer'
DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Beavers capped their 2013 campaign with a huge win at rival Defiance College on Saturday, Nov. 16, after Bluffton outscored the Yellow Jackets 14-3 in the second half en route to a 17-10 victory. The win moved the Beavers to 4-6 this season with a 4-4 mark in the HCAC thanks to a third straight win. It was also the first time since 1985-90 that Bluffton has fashioned four consecutive victories over its rival to the north.
After both teams failed to score in the first quarter, Defiance's Lawrence Austin punched the ball into the end zone on a two-yard rush less than a minute into the second, bringing Coressel Stadium at Defiance College to life. It wasn't until the 1:30 mark that the Beavers were able to crack the score column when senior Austin Sweeney (Adrian Mich./Whitmer) hit a 37-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 at the break.
The Beavers took their first lead late in the third quarter when senior standout Shawn Frost (Mt. Gilead/Edison) caught a five-yard pass from Connor Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) in the end zone at the 2:48 mark, putting the Beavers on top by a 10-7 margin.
Junior Eric Fox (Brunswick) helped extend that lead when he found paydirt on a two-yard trot. Sweeney converted his second PAT of the day, making the score 17-7 with 12:23 remaining in the game. Defiance trimmed it to 17-10 on a field goal with 4:41 to play.
After a five-play, 26-yard Bluffton drive milked 2:36 off the clock, freshman punter Blaiz McBride (Arlington) pinned the Yellow Jackets on their own one yard-line with a beautiful 44-yard boot, giving the home team the ball with 2:05 left on the clock, no timeouts and 99 yards to go to tie the game.
After two completions and a rush moved the ball to the Defiance 31 yardline, Defiance quarterback Sean Washington was picked off by senior Mike Shroyer (Pataskala/Watkins Memorial) at the Defiance 44, giving the Beavers possession with 1:25 remaining. It took just two kneel downs by Sheehan to zero out the clock and give the Beavers their third consecutive victory.
Frost led the Beaver offense with six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Sheehan connected on 14-of-27 passes for 207 yards, including the touchdown strike to Frost.
Donovan Brown (Cincinnati/Purcell Marion) finished the day with four catches for 71 yards, moving him to 7th all-time in the Bluffton University record book for receiving yards in a season with 676 yards. With his 65-yard performance, Frost moves in behind Brown in the ninth place with 661 yards this season. Brown and Frost also sit one and two in the record book for touchdowns in a season with 10 and eight, respectively.
Eric Fox finished the day with 48 yards rushing on 17 carries and he also added 43 yards receiving on two catches.
Paul Shroyer (Pataskala/Watkins Memorial) led the Beavers with 13 tackles, including nine of the solo variety. Senior Josh Runda (Lima/Bath) finished with 11 tackles while sophomore Ryan Aelker (New Bavaria/Holgate) and senior Josh Hadley (Harper Woods, Mich.) chipped in with nine apiece.
The win capped a 2013 season and sent 17 seniors out with a victory in the annual "Hammer" game, a contest that those seniors have never tasted defeat in while at Bluffton. The Heartland Conference will announce its post-season All-HCAC awards on Wednesday, Nov. 20.