Pirates Start Strong but Ada Wins Big
By Sam Brauen Saturday, September 25, 2010 01:04:01 AM
42-6 sounds like a one sided loss in football, but the game between Bluffton and Ada Friday night at Harmon Field was a bit closer than the score indicated. Yes, Ada won their 25th straight regular season game and the Pirates dropped to 2-3 but the score in no way let on to a solid game plan by Dennis Lee's staff and the execution of it by Bluffton's players.
Ada's aerial attack came into the game averaging 59 points per game yet found themselves stymied by the Pirate defense after one quarter as Ada didn't put a single point on the board. Ada's first drive ended at the Pirate 10 when Matt Gillett, seeing his first action of the season because of a broken clavicle, picked off a Konnor Baker pass. Bluffton forced Ada to punt on their next two possessions. Meanwhile on offense, BHS was moving the ball on the Bulldog 'D'. The first Pirate drive saw big plays with quarterback Hunter Joseph found Drew Luginbuhl for 48 yards mixed with efficient shorter passes and runs. BHS attacked the Bulldogs and made it down to the Bulldog seven yard line. An unfortunate fumble ended the Pirates' drive and kept the game at 0-0. The next two Pirate drives stalled, resulting in Christian Koch punts.
Ada broke through on the first play of the second quarter, when Baker found wideout Alex Weber in the right corner of the end zone for a 13 yard score to make it 7-0. Bluffton responded with an eight play drive again highlighted by a big play, this time from Joseph to RJ Stratton covering 35 yards. Bluffton had first and goal on the Bulldog three yard line but a holding penalty wiped a touchdown off the books. On fourth and goal from the 14, Joseph found Luginbuhl on an out pattern but Cole Simons made the tackle to prevent a Pirate score. Ada wasted no time scoring, going 96 yards in just three plays. Luginbuhl broke up a pass on the first play and Baker scrambled for 16 yards on the next. RJ Stratton got dinged on that scramble and was out the rest of the game with a concussion. The next play, Baker found Weber for 80 yards down the right sideline and a 14-0 lead. BHS created more trouble for themselves the next play when Baker picked off a pass at the Pirate 39. Two plays later, Baker found Weber, again, for a 21-0 lead with 7:42 left in the quarter. After a Pirate punt, Ada was held to three and out. The Bulldogs tried a fake punt near midfield that was sniffed out by Bluffton. The Pirates wasted no time responding as they got on the board. Joseph hit Luginbuhl and Matt Lee on back to back passes. Facing third and seven at the Ada 40, Joseph threw a jump ball to Jacob Nienberg near the right sideline. The sophomore out-lept the Bullog defender, made the catch and scooted in for a 40 yard touchdown. The Pirates, forced to go for two because of an injury to Christian Koch, were unsuccessful, making the score 21-6 in favor of Ada heading into half time.
Disaster seemed to loom for the Pirates as they fumbled away the opening snap of the third quarter. However, life was redeemed when Ben Moser recovered a Bulldog fumble on the very next play. Bluffton wasn't able to get things going and punted. The Pirates then put in a great defensive stand. The defensive line of Ben Moser, Jason Myers, Ethan Huss, Michael Liska and Levi Gleason fought hard all night, getting pressure when they could on Ada quarterback Konnor Baker. This time the Pirates made a stand inside their own ten as they held Ada on fourth and goal. Linebacker Logan Sturgill brought pressure and forced an early Baker throw that fell incomplete.
The next six minutes put the game out of reach. Starting at their own 29, Bluffton moved the ball into Bulldog territory when Joseph stiff armed a would-be tackler, planted and lofted a pass to Drew Luginbuhl down the right sideline covering 37 yards. The drive stalled there and the Pirates were forced to punt. Koch courageously came back in the game after getting smacked in the ribs in the first half. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs broke through the line and blocked the punt. Koch had to make a touchdown saving tackle. Ada marched down and scored, this time on a run to make it 28-6 with 6:53 left in the third. The Bulldogs picked off a Pirate pass on the next possession and three plays later punched it in for a 35-6 lead. Bluffton punted back to Ada on the next possesion. Apparently looking to run some clock, the Bulldogs ran for eight consecutive plays before Baker found Weber for their fourth touchdown hookup of the night. The scoreboard read 42-6 with :49 seconds left in the third quarter.
The score might look ugly but the Pirates didn't roll over and die. They fought down to the last whistle. The Bulldogs' fast paced, no huddle offense wore down the Pirates in the second half. Combined with a few key injuries to Stratton and Koch, who both start on offense, defense and special teams, the game got difficult for Bluffton. Quarterback Hunter Joseph was 15/33 for 265 yards and the one TD.
BHS is now 2-3 on the year and travels to Allen East next Friday. The Mustangs were 20-6 winners over Crestview in Week 5.