Ohio college football roundup: Bluffton keeps ‘Hammer’ with win against Defiance


Staff and wire reports



BLUFFTON — Bluffton University kept the “Hammer” with a 34-7 win Saturday against Defiance.

The Beavers improved to 3-7 overall and 3-5 in the Heartland Conference, while Defiance fell to 1-9 and 1-7 in the HCAC. Bluffton has now won eight of its last nine against the Yellow Jackets for a 47-45-2 lead in the all-time series after the Senior Day victory.

Bluffton’s Zachary Nobis completed 18-of-28 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Duncan led all Beaver rushers with 40 yards total and one rushing touchdown on three carries, including a 33-yarder. He also caught seven passes for 92 yards and a score. Lucas Espitia finished with four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Adam Duncan finished with three touchdowns (receiving, passing and rushing). The junior also added three extra points and punted two times with a 45.5 average per kick that included a 50-yarder which backed the Jackets up to their own 16 late in the third quarter.

Defensively, Isaac Zickafoose led Bluffton with eight solo tackles, including two sacks, four tackles for a loss and a forced fumble to go along with his 15 yards rushing on five carries.

Heidelberg 49, Ohio Northern 17

BEREA — Heidelberg scored 22 third quarter points to break open a tight game in the eighth annual Bendekovic Bowl at Hoernemann Stadium.

The Polar Bears end their season 5-5 overall and are 4-5 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Despite the loss, ONU clinched an upper division finish in the OAC for the 22nd time in the past 23 seasons.

The Student Princes end their season with an identical 5-5 overall mark and 4-5 OAC record.

ONU is now 1-7 in the eight Bendekovic Bowls, which is played annually between Ohio Northern and Heidelberg in honor of brothers Ron and Jason, who passed away prematurely while serving as assistant coaches for the two schools.

The Polar Bears played the game without seven starters on defense and three more on offense, including junior quarterback Anthony McFadden, all of whom missed the game due to injury.

ONU’s Mason Williams completed 8-of-19 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start and Tyler Smith came off the bench to complete 4-of-9 passes for 54 yards and a score.

Brock Martin ran 30 times for 106 yards and A.J. Marks ran 11 times for 43 yards for ONU. \

Cincinnati 35, South Florida 23

CINCINNATI — Coach Luke Fickell describes his running back as “built for November.” So far, his surprising Bearcats are, too.

Michael Warren II ran for three touchdowns and caught a pass for another score, leading 25th-ranked Cincinnati to a victory over South Florida that kept the Bearcats in the chase for the American Athletic title.

The Bearcats (9-1, 5-1) remain a game behind unbeaten UCF for the AAC East lead. No. 11 UCF beat Navy 35-24 and hosts Cincinnati next Saturday.

Cincinnati moved back into the Top 25 after a 42-0 win over Navy. The Bearcats are leaning on their versatile running back in their most important games. Warren came through again.

“I don’t know what to say about him,” Fickell said. “Sometimes you’re not sure he’s going to be able to continue doing what he’s done. His ability to do everything is what makes him special.”

Warren had a 13-yard touchdown catch in the first half. He ran for three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 57-yarder, and set a school record with his 18th TD of the season.

“I wasn’t aware,” the sophomore said about his record. “I didn’t even know what the numbers were.”

His teammates know something special happens when he gets the ball. Warren has scored in all but one game this season.

“Just keep the cameras on Mike,” defensive end Kimoni Fitz said. “He’s always making plays.”

South Florida (7-4, 3-3) has lost three straight conference games for the first time since 2013. It didn’t help that the Bulls were missing their prolific quarterback against the league’s stingiest defense.

Blake Barnett hurt his shoulder during a 41-15 loss to Tulane . The Bulls waited until the end of the week to decide Barnett wouldn’t be able to play.

His backups got a few big plays, but not much else.

Sophomore Chris Oladokun made his first career start and threw for a 72-yard touchdown on his first attempt. Junior Brett Kean replaced him in the second quarter and threw a 38-yard touchdown to Mitch Wilcox on his third attempt, helping USF take a 16-14 halftime lead before Warren took over.

“We watched Blake all week and hoped he’d get better, but by Friday we had to make a decision to go with the two quarterbacks,” coach Charlie Strong said. “With what they were trying to do to us we thought Chris could use his legs to make some plays to get out of danger. The quarterbacks played all right.” Oladokun was 10 of 22 for 165 yards. Kean was 4 of 10 for 67 yards.

Eastern Michigan 27, Akron 7

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Eastern Michigan intercepted Akron on three straight possessions, including one returned for a touchdown by Maxx Crosby, and the Eagles (6-5, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) became bowl eligible.

The Zips (4-5, 2-4) held a 10-7 halftime lead after Jeremiah Knight’s 70-yard punt return with 2:16 left before the break.

Dayton 63, Morehead State 20

DAYTON — Tucker Yinger rushed for 264 yards and scored four touchdowns and Dayton (5-4, 4-2 Pioneer Football League) routed Morehead State (3-7, 2-5).

Youngstown State 31,

Northern Iowa 10

YOUNGSTOWN — Tevin McCaster rushed for three touchdowns for Youngstown State. The Penguins (4-6, 3-4 Missouri Valley) snapped a two-game losing streak by beating a Panthers (5-5, 4-3) team ranked No. 24 in the FCS coaches’ poll.

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Staff and wire reports

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