BLUFFTON, Ohio – The rain held off until after the game, but that did not stop Hanover College from pouring it on in the second half as the Panthers outscored Bluffton 26-3 in the final two quarters en route to a 40-13 victory over the Beavers on Homecoming weekend. The loss dropped the Beavers to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the Heartland Conference. Hanover moved to 4-2 and remained undefeated in the conference with a 4-0 record.
Bluffton put up the only points of the first quarter when Austin Sweeney hit a 37-yard field goal at the 9:33 mark. The home team was unable to capitalize following a fumbled kickoff return and a quick three-and-out despite starting the next two drives in Panther territory. The Beavers would strike again after Nick Sheehan found senior wide-out Ryan Sabin over the middle for the longest play of the day, a 75-yard touchdown pass. That score put the Beavers up 10-0 with 11:52 remaining the first half.
Hanover finally found the end zone on the ensuing possession when Dexter Britt hit Dan Passafiume for a five-yard touchdown pass. Two possessions later, the Panthers took a 14-10 lead when Britt found the end zone on his feet from eight yards out with just over one minute remaining in the second quarter.
The Beavers got back within one, 14-13, with a Sweeney field goal of 32 yards three minutes into the second half. However, the Panthers went on to score 26 unanswered points as Britt scored one more time on the ground and two more times through the air, one touchdown pass to Shawn Gibson and the other to Dwayne Eubanks. Colton Zeck capped it off for Hanover with a nine-yard touchdown scamper midway through the final period.
Sheehan led the Beavers’ passing attack, completing 15-of-30 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown. Sabin racked up 115 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches while Donovan Brown hauled in six balls for 68 yards.
Junior Airic Steagall led the Beavers on the ground, rushing the ball 16 times for 37 yards. Senior Jason Brown had 34 yards on just four touches.
Defensively, Josh Runda racked up 15 tackles to lead the Beavers. Nine of those were of the solo variety. Mike Johnson piled up 13 tackles, including 10 solos. Ben Kauffman added eight tackles and a sack.
For the game, Bluffton racked up 314 yards of offense to Hanover’s 437. Hanover threw for 262 yards, compared to 248 for the Beavers. Both teams had three turnovers. The visitors finished with a 32:19-27:41 edge in time of possession thanks to their efficiency on third downs. Hanover converted 10-of-15 times on third down, compared to just 1-of-12 for the Beavers. The Panthers scored six touchdowns on their seven trips inside the red zone.
Bluffton will have next Saturday off before traveling to Anderson on October 27. The next home contest for the Beavers will be the final game of the season on November 10 when they host rival Defiance College.