BLUFFTON, OHIO -- The Trine University football team claimed its 22nd consecutive regular-season win with a 35-20 victory against Bluffton University at Alumni Field in Bluffton, Ohio.
The Thunder rushed for 227 yards as a team marking the 12th time Trine has rushed for 200 or more yards in its last 13 games dating back to last season. After rushing for over 90 yards last week in the season opener against Manchester, junior Dylan Dowling (Alexandria, Ind./Alexandra) nearly matched that total against Bluffton with 90 yards to lead all rushers and had a touchdown.
Winters also completed five-of-nine passes for 43 yards and tossed one TD completion.
Defensively, senior Simeon Washington (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) had a team-best 10 tackles (all solo) with four tackles for loss, that included three quarterback sacks. Washington also forced a fumble.
Bluffton (0-2) grabbed the early lead after taking the game's first drive and went 75 yards in 10 plays and ended in a 26-yard TD completion. But Trine (2-0) answered right back and scored on its ensuing possession when Kirby scored from eight yards out to cap a six-play, 43-yard drive and tie the game at 7-7 with 7:14 left in the first quarter. The Kirby TD was the beginning of 21 unanswered points by the Thunder in the quarter with Trine's second score coming on a seven-yard strike from Winters to fellow senior Jacob Chesney (Kirklin, Ind./Sheridan) to end a drive that was set up by a defensive interception by freshman Christian Warren (Toledo, Ohio/Toledo Rogers). The ensuing Bluffton possession following the Chesney score ended in another turnover when Trine's Damian Bowker (Kendallville, Ind./East Noble) stepped in front of a Bluffton pass and went 70 yards for the touchdown to put the visitors up, 21-7, after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Bluffton cut into the Trine lead with a 34-yard field goal to make it a 21-10 ball game with just under 10 minutes to go in the half. On the ensuing kickoff, senior Seth Boggs (Sandusky, Ohio/Perkins) gave the Thunder excellent field position with a 69-yard return to set the Trine offense up at the Bluffton 25-yard line. Four plays later, freshman Alex Price (Reading, Mich./Reading) scored on a two-yard dash to increase the margin to 28-10. The teams then traded interceptions on their next possessions, but the Trine turnover would lead to three more points for the home team thanks to an 18-yard field goal as time expired in the half and made the score 28-13 at the break.
The second half featured a modest 14 total points scored with the Thunder scoring their lone TD in the third quarter that came on a one-yard run by Dowling at the 2:15 mark and ended a nine play, 42-yard drive to put Trine out in front, 35-13.
The final points of the game were scored by Bluffton with 36 seconds left in the game on a punt block at the Trine 18-yard line and returned for a Beaver TD. But by that time, the Thunder had already secured the victory and went on to the 35-20 final.
Trine will play its first home game of the season next Saturday, Sept. 21 when the Thunder host Concordia University-Wisconsin at Fred Zollner Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.