GREENWOOD, IN - Bluffton University (3-6, 3-4 HCAC) shocked the Division III football world with a 24-17 win over previously No. 9 ranked Franklin College (6-3, 6-1 HCAC) Saturday.
A 44-yard touchdown grab by Donovan Brown (Cincinnati, Ohio/Purcell Marian) broke a 17-17 tie and helped the Beavers cap their first win over a top 10 opponent in school history.
The 17 points are the fewest the Grizzlies offense, which averaged 51.3 points per game heading into Saturday, has scored all year, including contests with No. 1 ranked Mount Union and Butler University. The loss also snapped a 31-game HCAC win streak for the Grizzlies and handed the FC seniors their first ever HCAC defeat.
Bluffton quarterback Connor Sheehan (Monroeville, Ind./Heritage) finished the day completing 23 of his 38 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Shawn Frost (Mt. Gilead, Ohio/H.S.) hauled in five passes for 126 yards and a touchdown, while Brown finished with 86 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Although the Grizzlies racked up 463 yards of offense, the Bluffton defense came up huge with four takeaways in the win.
The Beaver victory will likely force Franklin to defeat rival Hanover next Saturday to claim a share of its fourth consecutive HCAC title and berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Bluffton will close the season at rival Defiance Saturday.
In other action...
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (6-3, 6-1 HCAC) moved into a tie for first place in the HCAC standings with a 42-14 victory at Anderson University (0-9, 0-7 HCAC) on Saturday afternoon. The Engineers can claim at least a share of their first conference championship since 1988 with a win at Earlham next weekend. Rose-Hulman can earn its first ever trip to the NCAA Division III playoffs with a win at Earlham and a loss by Franklin at Hanover next weekend. Rose gained 588 yards of total offense for the third-most single-game yards in program history to rattle off 42 consecutive points and secure their first winning season since the 2010 campaign. Senior quarterback Ryan Landwehr (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe Valley) led the RHIT offense with two passing and two rushing touchdowns. Landwehr finished 26 of 39 through the air for 309 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 67 yards and two more scores. Defensively, senior Dean Griffing (Plano, Ill./Aurora Christian) paced Rose-Hulman with 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks against the Ravens. Rose will look to earn a slice of the league title with a win at Earlham Saturday, while Anderson will strive for its first win of the season at Manchester.
The College of Mount St. Joseph (6-3, 6-2 HCAC) ended HCAC play with a convincing 51-7 victory over Earlham College (2-7, 1-6 HCAC) Saturday. The Lions took over in the second half, outscoring the visiting Quakers 42-7 in the second half of play. Antonio Banks (Middletown, Ohio/H.S.) finished with a game-high 96 yards rushing, while quarterback Caleb Watkins (Middletown, Ohio/H.S.) finished 11 of 27 for 95 yards and a touchdown. The Lions defense was stingy all afternoon, limiting Earlham to only 270 yards and forcing five turnovers. The Lions can earn a share of the HCAC title if Rose-Hulman and Franklin both lose on Saturday. The Mount will close the season at home against rival Thomas More in the annual Bridge Bowl. Earlham will welcome Rose-Hulman at 1:30 PM to close the campaign.
Hanover College (5-4, 5-2 HCAC) scored in the final minute to beat Manchester University (2-7, 2-5 HCAC) 24-21 Saturday at L.S. Ayers Field. Senior quarterback Dexter Britt (Louisville, Ky./Male ) scored on a 28-yard run with 27 seconds remaining to lift the Panthers to their fifth straight league win. The Panthers led 17-0 at the intermission before Manchester reeled off 21 straight points to surge ahead with just 3:35 to play in the contest. Britt finished with a career-high 155 rushing yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns, while also completing 12 of his 27 passes for 192 yards. Senior placekicker Dylan Dunlop (Miami, Fla./Palmetto) booted a 21-yard field goal and three extra points to set the Panthers' career kick-scoring record. Dunlop raised his four-year total to 167 points, eclipsing the mark of 166 set by Dan Farrington from 1991-1994. Hanover's defense limited Manchester to just 163 total yards through three quarters before the Spartans netted 174 yards in the fourth period. Hanover will welcome Franklin for the annual Victory Bell Classic Saturday at 1:30 PM. Manchester will close the season at home against Anderson Saturday at 1:30 PM.
Defiance College (3-6, 3-4 HCAC) was IDLE this week and will host rival Bluffton at 1:30 PM Saturday.