BLUFFTON, OH - Bluffton University (3-3, 2-2 HCAC) impressed the homecoming crowd with an exciting 29-27 win over Manchester College (2-3, 1-2 HCAC) Saturday afternoon. Bluffton has won two straight games for the first time since 2004 and their three wins this fall marks the most since the 2006 campaign.
The Beavers stormed out of the gates early, blitzing the visiting Spartans with 19 points in the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Chris Byrd (Detroit, Mich./Detroit University Prep) utilized the big play in the opening frame, scoring on a 76-yard touchdown run to get the scoring started. Byrd connected with Shane Swisher (Findlay, Ohio/McComb) on a 38-yard touchdown pass for the game’s second score and added a 75-yard touchdown strike to Jason A. Johnson (Lansing, Mich./Lansing Eastern) at the end of the first period.
Byrd finished the day with 125 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while adding 120 yards and a score via the ground.
The Spartans did not go down without a fight at Salzman Stadium, outscoring the Beavers 20-3 in the second half. The black and gold’s offense outgained the Beavers 396 to 377 in the contest, including a 21-15 advantage in first downs.
Junior quarterback Justin Minnich (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) tossed a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull the Spartans within two points. MC failed on a two-point conversion that would have tied the contest at 29-29 with just under three minutes to go.
The Spartans got the ball back and moved to the Bluffton 37 yard line with 23 seconds remaining, but a 55-yard field goal attempt fell short in the final seconds to give Bluffton the win.
Minnich finished the day completing 22 of his 35 passes for 222 yards and added 82 yards and a score rushing.
Bluffton will try for a third straight victory Saturday at Anderson, while Manchester faces first place Franklin.