GRINNELL, Iowa - In a game played purely for pride, Beloit College's football team proved to have plenty of that commodity Saturday afternoon.
The Buccaneers blasted Grinnell College, 35-0, to close out their Midwest Conference campaign and pick up their first victory of 2017 in the process.
It was a nice parting gift for senior tight end Ryan Sughroue, who caught two touchdown passes from Ben Esposito and ended up with five catches in all for 37 yards. Fellow tight end Jassen Jaime also played his final game as a Buc.
Much of the damage, though, was done on the ground as junior running back Joey Werner paced a running game that amassed 256 yards on 51 carries. Werner had 18 carries for a career-high 142 yards. Sposito also converted 11-of-16 passes for 122 yards and four touchdowns.
The shutout by the defense was its first since 2008 (a 38-0 win over Knox). The Bucs held the Pioneers to 239 total yards.
Beloit scored on its opening possession, driving 65 yards in 12 plays, with Tyler Korous capping it off with a 10-yard TD reception from Sposito. Andrew Berlin tacked on the PAT.
The Bucs tacked on their second touchdown with 6:18 left in the first quarter, traveling 57 yards in just four plays with Sughroue catching a 6-yard scoring strike from Sposito. Berlin's kick made it 14-0 and it stayed that way through a scoreless second quarter.
Werner went to work in the third quarter, scoring twice. After just a 12-yard punt by Grinnell, the Bucs took over at the Pioneers' 38 and gave the ball to Werner on four straight downs, with his 3-yard run capping it off for a TD. Berlin made it 21-0.
The Bucs 68 yards in 12 plays on their next possession to make it 28-0 with Werner and Tyree Smith gashing the Pioneers. Sposito capped it off by hitting Werner with a 15-yard TD pass.
The defense set up Beloit's last score. Jackson Modaff sacked Grinnell quarterback Tony Bergida for a 10-yard loss, stripping the ball in the process. Modaff also recovered the fumble and return it 48 yards to the Grinnell 5. An unsportsmanlike conduct call on the Bucs pushed it back to the 20, but Sposito hit Sughroue for 15 yards on first down and two plays later hit him again for 5 yards and a touchdown. Berlin's PAT made it 35-0.
The Pioneers came into the game prone to turnovers and didn't disappoint, losing two fumbles and Bergida threw interceptions to Beloit's Kaylon Williams and Tyler Moore. Andrei Prikohdko led the Bucs with three solo and 10 assisted tackles.
Both teams finished 1-9 overall.