TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology moved into the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference lead in the race for an NCAA Division III playoff bid with a 42-19 victory over Bluffton University on Saturday at Cook Stadium.
The win, combined with Franklin's 56-24 victory at Mount St. Joseph on Saturday afternoon, leaves Rose-Hulman one victory away from its first trip NCAA Division III playoffs in school history. The Fightin' Engineers host Earlham College on Nov. 12 in the season finale.
Senior Austin Swenson passed for four touchdowns and rushed for two more, all in the first half, as Rose-Hulman earned perhaps its most impressive win of the season. Swenson finished 18-27 for 208 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a career-long 73-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
Junior Raymond Burtnick had his biggest day as a Fightin' Engineer with three touchdown catches. Burtnick had three receptions for 49 yards and his three scores.
Junior Stanley Hogan III added a career-high 169 rushing yards on 33 carries to help lead Rose-Hulman 311-yard ground attack. The Fightin' Engineers gained 519 yards of total offense and averaged over 10 yards per play in the first half.
Defensively, Rose-Hulman recorded seven sacks and forced two turnovers in a dominating performance. Mike Riley led the defensive line with 1.5 sacks. Senior Kevin Nowak led the team with six tackles, forced a fumble and snagged an interception. Senior Sterling Mitchell also recovered a fumble, and Tyler Stewart had six tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
Rose-Hulman scored on its first six possessions to take a 42-0 lead against a team that entered the day in a four-way battle for one NCAA Division III Tournament spot. The first two possessions ended identically, with Swenson connecting with Burtnick on nine-yard touchdown passes. Junior Matt Murray booted the first two of his six extra points to make the score 14-0.
The Fightin' Engineers scored one more first quarter touchdown with the wind at their back. Swenson broke free on a career-long 73-yard touchdown run to cap an 89-yard touchdown drive. Swenson would later record the first 100-yard rushing game of his Rose-Hulman career.
The lead reached 28-0 with 9:00 left in the opening half, when Swenson connected with senior Alec Fisher on a five-yard scoring strike. The pass ended a 97-yard, eight-play drive that took less than three minutes.
Rose-Hulman added two more touchdowns before the end of the first half. Swenson scored on a two-yard run, before connecting with Burtnick from 31 yards out to make the score 42-0.
Bluffton returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and scored on the final play of the game to help close the overall margin to 42-19.
Conner Sheehan led the Beavers with a 14-30 performance through the air for 162 yards, despite enduring six of the seven sacks made by the Fightin' Engineer defense.
Rose-Hulman improved to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in HCAC play with the victory. Bluffton dropped to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in league games. The Fightin' Engineers look to secure their first ever NCAA Division III playoff appearance in their season finale at home against Earlham on Nov. 12.