(BLUFFTON) - In their heyday, Allen East football was known as a physical, fundamental squad that pounded the ball. While elements of a power rushing game were still evident in the most recent meeting Friday night at Harmon Field, overall team speed and a dangerous passing attack led the Mustangs to a lopsided 40-7 win over the Pirates. The dominant performance put a damper on Bluffton’s homecoming festivities which crowned senior Abbie Parkins queen and classmate Gabe Denecker king after a terrific, spirited parade through downtown Bluffton.
The teams entered the game with identical 3-1 records but AE quickly showed why they will be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the regular season. The Mustangs grabbed all the momentum with three long touchdown passes in the game’s first fifteen minutes. Mustang quarterback Spencer Miller was benevolent in his ball distribution, finding three different elusive wide receivers for scores. Receptions by Caleb Smelcer (32 yards), Kain Foster (25 yards) and Chris Kleman (19 yards) staked Allen East to a 20-0 advantage with nine minutes left in the half. Miller added a two yard quarterback sneak pushing the lead to 27-0 at halftime. Bluffton coach Jeff Richards said, “We knew they were fast. We had trouble containing (Spencer) Miller on scrambles and (Caleb) Smelcer was dynamic in the open field. Their athletes made a ton of plays tonight.”
After a quiet first half, the Pirate offense revved to life in the second half in the capable hands of junior Dakota Bricker. The speedster fielded the second half kickoff deep in BHS territory and zig zagged his way to the 50 yard line. Bricker then took the handoff and raced 49 yards to the Mustang one yard line. Two plays later, Kaleb Jefferson plowed in for the lone Pirate touchdown of the evening. Richards added, “I loved what we did out of the half, moving the ball quickly and explosively. We wanted to give Dakota the ball in space a bit more than in the first half and it seemed to open up some lanes in throughout the third quarter.”
AE answered immediately to maintain their advantage with a 64 yard drive capped off by another long touchdown pass from Miller to Smelcer. This time, Miller threw to the speedy halfback in the left corner of the end zone for the score. The teams traded possessions for most of the remainder of the game. Smelcer added one more rushing touchdown from three yards out with ten minutes left to close out the scoring. With the lead at 40-7, reserves took over the field for both teams and a running clock was wound by the referees.
In a similar fashion to the Pirates’ first loss of the year, the BHS offense was stymied for most of the evening. Bluffton picked up just 111 total yards compared to 416 for AE. The Pirates lost the turnover battle 2-0 putting a fumble on the ground and throwing a late interception. On the evening, Bluffton completed just 2 of 10 passes for 7 yards. Brice Rayle had a great night punting the ball averaging 35 yards per kick including a 53 yarder in the second half. Bricker gained 92 yards on 11 carries to lead the rushing attack. For Allen East, quarterback Spencer Miller was the catalyst. The senior led the team with 86 yards on the ground and threw for another 183 and four scores. Defensively for Bluffton, Jefferson and Bricker each had seven tackles. Rayle added 4, Brady Basinger 3.5 and Logan Rhodes 3. Rhodes also blocked the final extra point attempt of the evening.
The Pirates record stands at 3-2 at the halfway point of the regular season. Next up for Bluffton is a daunting trip to Delphos Jefferson. The Wildcats are 4-1 with the lone loss a 20-6 setback to defending State Champion Coldwater in Week 2. The Pirates will be looking for some revenge after a 50-7 setback last season at the hands of Jefferson. Delphos is coming off a 50-22 victory over Paulding.