LEIPSIC — Both Leipsic and Bluffton proved they could run.
But the difference was Bluffton’s passing game was rolling.
Bluffton pulled away with a 34-14 victory over Leipsic on Friday night at John Edwards Stadium.
Bluffton is 5-2, 4-0 in the Northwest Conference. Leipsic is 3-4, 2-2 in the NWC.
“Our Achilles’ heel the last few years was our inability to pass,” Bluffton coach Jeff Richards said. “We’ve got speed this year and we have some guys if they get the ball in their hands, they can score at any point. And our quarterback, Garret Bogart, is getting better at the little things and I’m so proud of this group, considering a lot of people picked us not to do well this year in the conference.’’
Leipsic rolled out Hayden Hiegel, who finished with 31 carries for 172 yards and two TDs.
Bluffton countered with Landen Worchester, who had 21 carries for 171 yards and two TDs.
Bluffton quarterback Garret Bogart continually hit slants and crossing patterns most of the night. He completed 8 of 12 for 174 yards. He threw TD passes of 29, 20 and 9 yards.
“With what we do in the option, we’re very scary on the perimeter if we’re running,” Richards said. “So, they were trying to take away some stuff on the perimeter, which opened it up in the middle.’’
Bluffton led 7-0 after the first quarter and 14-8 at the half.
After Hiegel scored on a 5-yard run, Leipsic cut the Bluffton lead to 20-14 with 11:14 to play.
But Bogart engineered a six-play, 65-yard drive down the field for a score.
Bogart hit Gavin Bogart with a 20-yard TD pass to give the Pirates a 27-14 lead with 8:43 to play.
Bluffton went down the field again on its next possession and when Worcester scored from the 1, it was 34-14, Bluffton, with 5:04 to play.
“He (Garret Bogart) had an interception early in the game and bounced back from it,” Richards said. “That’s resilience. You don’t have that naturally. You have that with experience. And his brother (Gavin) gave us some big plays as a receiver.’’
Leipsic started quarterback Quin Schroeder, who suffered a strained calf last week. He threw for 87 yards.
Tommy Offenbacher came on and threw for 104.
On the third play from scrimmage, Bluffton running back Landen Worcester took a handoff off right tackle, then bounced it outside for a 69-yard TD run.
That gave Bluffton a 7-0 lead with 11:10 left in the first quarter.
On Leipsic’s second possession, the Vikings pounded it on the ground behind the leading rusher in the Northwest Conference, Hayden Hiegel.
The Vikings compiled a 14-play, 80-yard TD drive with Hiegel jumping over the pile from the 2 for a 2-yard TD.
With the two-point conversion, Leipsic had an 8-7 lead with 10:42 to go in the second quarter.
On the drive, Hiegel had 10 carries for 66 yards.
Bluffton then compiled a 10-play, 76-yard drive, mixing it up between the run and the pass.
Bluffton quarterback Garret Bogart hit Braeden Jordan on a slant pass over the middle for a 29-yard TD.
That gave Bluffton a 14-8 lead with 6:59 left in the second quarter.
At the half, Hiegel had 19 carries for 109 yards.
Worcester had 120 yards on nine carries.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.