Big Plays Turn into Big Win
By Sam Brauen Friday, September 22, 2017 11:09:36 PM
Dakota Bricker (by M. Foster)
(BLUFFTON) - Homecoming in recent years has not been kind to the Bluffton Pirate football team but the 2017 edition turned out just fine. Sunny skies, big plays and a convincing 42-13 win over Paulding kicked off homecoming weekend in a terrific fashion. The win moved Bluffton to 2-3 while Paulding dropped to 1-4. More importantly, the Pirates are 1-0 in Northwest Conference play.
The big plays came early and often. Bluffton burst out to a 7-0 lead after just one play from scrimmage. Moments after being named Homecoming King alongside Queen Leah Conley, Kaleb Jefferson outraced the Panther defense for a 60 yard touchdown. Dakota Bricker weaved through the Paulding defenders for a 77 yard touchdown run later in the first half. In the third quarter, Bricker rolled to his left and completed a pass to Brice Rayle who cruised into the end zone for a 34 yard passing touchdown. While the big plays kept Paulding guessing, the Pirates were able to line up and run the ball with success.
The Pirates rushed efficiently to the tune of 314 yards on 35 attempts. Bricker, who stayed at quarterback throughout the game, distributed the carries between Jefferson, Deandre Nassar, Gavin Conrad, Kaden Reneker and Logan Rhodes. Nassar and Conrad each scored short touchdown runs as the Pirates displayed several options out of the backfield. Jefferson averaged over 10 yards per carry on his way to a 139 yard night with two scores. Bricker had 9 totes for 77 yards and Conrad 7 carries for 69 yards. Bluffton’s speed was simply too much for Paulding to handle. Coach Jeff Richards said, “I loved our energy tonight. We knew it was going to be a hot one and the boys were ready.” The game time heat index hovered around 90 degrees.
There were some new faces along the offensive line as well. Landen Luginbuhl made his first start and Brett Basinger opened the game along the interior line. Justin Haggard, Hunter Busch & Chad Veit also opened up running lanes for the Pirate rushing attack
Paulding had one successful drive which was on their first possession. The Panthers drove 75 yards for a touchdown, converting four fourth down plays and frustrating the Pirate defense. But after that, the Panthers had no traction on offense. On the game, Bluffton made three fourth down stops and recovered two Paulding fumbles. BHS had 348 total yards compared to just 242 for the visitors. Pirate linebacker Hunter Busch racked up nine tackles, including three for loss. Deandre Nassar added 7 and Baylor Garmatter had four including two big hits and a forced fumble.
The Pirates take to the road next week at Allen East. The Mustangs are 1-4 and coming off a 41-32 loss to Delphos Jefferson.