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September 25, 2021

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Ground-oriented Bearcats hand Pirates 1st loss

By Cort Reynolds

Previously-undefeated Bluffton was knocked off at Spencerville 35-14 in the Northwest Conference grid opener Friday night, September 10.

The league lidlifter defeat dropped the Bluffton record to 3-1 overall (0-1 NWC), while Spencerville improved to 2-2 (1-0 NWC) with the victory.

Bluffton fell behind 20-0 and could not recover. Spencerville amassed all of its offense running the ball, and controlled the clock without throwing a single pass.

The Bearcats took a 7-0 lead on a Nate Coulter one-yard touchdown run with 3:45 left in the first period, and never trailed.

The teams battled for over 14 minutes without scoring. Bearcat Tyler Koenig then scored on a 15-yard run just 21 seconds before intermission. Emerson Laymen's second point after kick made it 14-0 at halftime.

Spencerville extended the lead to 20-0 when Gunner Grigsby tallied on a four-yard TD run with 8:31 left in the third stanza.

Bluffton got on the scoreboard when Pirate senior quarterback Nate Schaadt completed a 31-yard TD pass to Beau Stever with 5:15 left in the third period.

Gabe Meza's point after kick cut the deficit to 20-7.

Grigsby answered on a nine-yard TD scamper with 9:22 left to play. Coulter's two-point conversion run advanced the lead to 28-7 as Spencerville regained control. 

Pirate receiver Braeden Jordan connected with Hayden Dearth on a 49-yard TD double-pass aerial with 7:17 remaining. Meza's second PAT kick cut the margin to 28-14.

But Koenig added a 14-yard TD run with two minutes left to put the game out of reach. Laymen's PAT kick provided the final margin of 21.

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Notes and stats

Bluffton netted 295 yards in total offense on 52 plays for a 5.7 yard average per play. The Pirates amassed 15 first downs. 

The Bearcats amassed 328 yards on an identical number of plays (52) for 6.3 yards per play. Spencerville racked up 20 first downs.

The Pirates rushed 33 times for 157 yards (4.8 avg.), while Spencerville carried the ball 52 times for all 328 of its yards (6.3 avg.). 

Schaadt rushed 16 times for 69 yards (4.3 avg.). Schaadt also completed seven of 18 pass attempts for 89 yards with one TD and one interception. Jordan completed his only pass for 49 yards and a TD.

Landon Shutler netted 52 yards rushing on 11 carries. Stever added 22 yards on two rushes.

Dearth led the receiving corps with three grabs for 57 yards and one score. Stever had one reception for 31 yards and a TD. Kyler Kinn added one catch for 38 yards.

Landen Worcester led the Pirate defense with 8.5 tackles, including seven solo stops.

Bearcat back Grigsby netted 192 yards rushing on 26 carries with two scores. Koenig amassed 81 yards and a pair of TDs on 10 rushes. Dale Smith added 43 yards on 12 runs.

Bluffton committed one turnover, while the hosts were guilty of one turnover by fumble. The Pirates were penalized just twice for 10 yards, and the Bearcats were flagged three times for 35 yards.

Bluffton had the ball for 20:59, while ground-oriented Spencerville possessed it for 26:57 of play. The Pirates converted six of 12 third down attempts, and went two of five on fourth down. 

The Bearcats were nine for 11 on third down tries, and two for three on fourth down.

The unbeaten Pirates fell to 11th in the early unofficial Div. VI, Region 22 computer rankings after suffering their first loss.

Bluffton (0-1 road) visits local league rival Ada (1-3, 0-1 NWC) in Northwest Conference week five action. The Bulldogs (0-1 home) lost to Leipsic 49-14 Friday in their home and league opener on their new synthetic turf.