Van Buren Passes Over Pirates


Logan Rhodes caught a 50 yarder (Marv Foster photo)

Logan Rhodes caught a 50 yarder (Marv Foster photo)

(VAN BUREN) – For the second straight week, Bluffton traveled to a Blanchard Valley Conference opponent looking for a win.  The result was not the same however as Van Buren dammed up running lanes and held the Pirate offense under 200 yards in a 35-12 victory.   Both teams are now 1-1.  Bluffton will get to play on their home field for the first time this coming Friday, hosting Ayersville.  

Neither team was able to move the ball in the first quarter as punts were traded.  Tucker Neff punted extremely well for Bluffton with booms of 48 and 42 yards, including three punts that fell to rest inside the Black Knight 10 yard line.  This gave the Pirates an advantage on field position that led to the game’s first points.  Early in the second quarter, BHS started a drive from their own 44 yard line.  On third and long, freshman quarterback Nate Schaadt connected with senior Logan Rhodes over the middle and Rhodes raced 50 yards down to the Van Buren 10 yard line. The offense was not able to punch it in for the touchdown but Kyle Koontz booted a 21 yard field goal to put Bluffton ahead 3-0.  

Van Buren fumbled the kickoff setting up Bluffton at the VB 36 yard line.  Deandre Nassar was able to rip off a 13 yard gain but again Koontz was called on, this time for a 41 yard field goal.  The junior’s kick was true and Bluffton led 6-0. Late in the half, Neff pinned Van Buren on their own 9 yard line.  To this point, the hosts had only gained 81 total yards.  They eclipsed that in a single drive as they marched 91 yards for the game’s first touchdown.  Up to that point, Van Buren had been primarily running the ball but on this drive, quarterback Brady Rader threw the ball on 12 of 13 plays.  On the other, he ran it for 4 yards.  The scoring play covered 12 yards to the left front corner of the end zone and made the score 7-6 with just seconds left in the half.  

Van Buren opened the second half with the ball but Bluffton’s defense shut them down including a sack by Chad Veit and Mason Ault.  The Pirates took possession on their own 26 and three plays later faced a fourth down and one situation at their own 35.  BHS gambled and went for it but Rhodes was stopped for a loss.  Six plays later, Rader scooted in from 8 yards out to give the Black Knights a 14-6 advantage.  The Pirates had life in them!  Deandre Nassar provided another highlight reel as he caught the ensuing kickoff and rumbled up the middle.  The speedy senior broke a tackle and outran everyone to the house for a 95 yard touchdown.   Nassar scored a 96 yarder the week before and continued to show speed, balance and power in his game. The two point conversion pass was incomplete and VB led 14-12 midway through the third quarter. 

The Black Knight offense was rolling at this point and they scored on their next possession.  Rader connected on passes of 44 and 25 yards during the drive.  He finished the night with 291 yards passing.  A 17 yard touchdown run on this drive made the score 21-12 in favor of VB with 4:01 left in the third quarter.  The Pirates committed the first of three turnovers on their next drive and the hosts capitalized by scoring again as they began to pull away leading 28-12 entering the fourth quarter. Mason Ault recovered a fumble at the Bluffton 10 yard line in the fourth quarter but BHS threw two interceptions in the final stanza as they attempted to mount a comeback.  

“We had some great opportunities and squandered them.  We weren’t able to punch it in.  Koontz did a great job getting three but we need the touchdowns,”  Jeff Richards said post game.  “We turned the ball over too many times to win against good teams.  Van Buren’s a good team with a good quarterback.” 

Special teams was the bright spot for Bluffton as Koontz was 2/2 on field goals including the lengthy 41 yarder.  Neff averaged 38 yards per punt including three inside the Van Buren 10 yard line.  Nassar’s 95 yard kickoff was another highlight.  Koontz also put two kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.  

Individually, Nassar led Bluffton with 59 yards on 19 carriers (3.1 average).  Nate Schaadt completed 3/13 passes for 84 yards with 2 interceptions.  Logan Rhodes, Andrew Wehrly and Mason Ault all caught passes for Bluffton.  Tucker Neff led the defense with 10 tackles.  Logan Rhodes added 7 with Trey Shisler & Baylor Garmatter making 6 each.  Nephi Peralta had a takeaway for the second straight week, recovering a Van Buren fumble.  

This is the final meeting between these two teams as the schedule sits.  Next season, the Pirates will begin a series with Pandora-Gilboa in the Week 2 slot.  Van Buren won the final three matchups of the two squads.  

Photos by Marvin Foster :

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