December 15, 2009

Bulldogs Complete Historical Football Season

RECORD RUN:  When the final seconds ticked down on Butler’s Gridiron Classic victory over Central Connecticut State, the Bulldogs had not only their first-ever postseason victory but also a coveted place in the school and Pioneer Football League all-time record books!  The win in the postseason game matching the champions of the PFL and the Northeast Conference capped a magical season for the Bulldogs, who were coming off a 6-5 campaign and were predicted to finish fifth in this year’s PFL race.  Butler finished with a school-record 11 wins and just one setback, and the Bulldogs captured their first PFL championship since 1994.  The 11 victories tied the PFL single season record shared by Dayton (1996, 2002 & 2007) and San Diego (2005 & 2006).  And the Bulldogs joined Dayton and San Diego as the only PFL schools with a Gridiron Classic Trophy.  Butler finished the 2009 season with an unbeaten record at home and set a school record with seven victories in the Butler Bowl.  The Bulldogs also tied the school record for most consecutive victories in a season with nine to start the year.  Butler was unbeaten in three non-league tests, before posting a 7-1 PFL mark to tie Dayton for the league regular season championship.  The Bulldogs earned the bid to the Gridiron Classic by beating Dayton during the regular season.  Butler also captured the Hoosier Helmet Trophy for the second straight year with a victory over Valparaiso.                                   

Butler tied the PFL record for league victories with seven in 2009.

CLASSIC WIN:  Sophomore quarterback Andrew Huck scored three touchdowns, and Butler’s defense held off a late comeback attempt to lift the Bulldogs over Central Connecticut State, 28-23, in the 2009 Gridiron Classic at the Butler Bowl on Dec. 5.  The game was Butler’s first postseason football appearance since 1991.  Huck gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 14-10 with a 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, and then he added two more scoring runs in the final period to help keep Butler in front.  Central Connecticut State (9-3) cut Butler’s margin to five points, 28-23, with a touchdown with less than two minute to play, and the Blue Devils had the ball again with less than a minute to play.  But sophomore Jack McKenna intercepted a pass with 0:29 left to seal Butler’s first postseason win.

Butler won seven games by seven points or less in 2009.   

MVP:  Quarterback Andrew Huck was named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Gridiron Classic, after helping Butler to the victory over Central Connecticut State.  Huck scored three touchdowns in the second half to spark the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind win over the champions of the Northeast Conference.  His touchdown runs covered 10 yards, 19 yards and seven yards, and he finished the game with 41 rushing yards on nine carries.  Huck also passed for 182 yards, completing 15 of 21 pass attempts with no interceptions. 

RECORD CATCH:  Butler’s second play in the Gridiron Classic was an eight-yard pass from Andrew Huck to senior Dan Bohrer.  That reception gave Bohrer 2,180 career receiving yards made him the all-time Butler leader, breaking the previous record of 2,176 yards held by Eric Voss (1990-93).  Bohrer went on to catch seven passes for 69 yards in the game, and he finished his career with 2,241 receiving yards.  He also set Butler career records for receptions (192) and touchdown catches (22) in 2009.

TOP THREE:  Sophomore Andrew Huck, in just his first year as a starter, became the eighth Butler quarterback to pass for over 2,000 yards in a season.  He finished the year with 2,454 passing yards, the third-highest single season total in Butler football history!  Huck completed 233 of 371 passes with 11 interceptions.  His completions and pass attempts both were the most in the Pioneer Football League and his passing yards were the second most in the circuit.  Huck’s 21 touchdown passes on the year were the second-most in the PFL this season and the third-most in Butler football history.

Andrew Huck finished third in the PFL in passing average (204.5) in 2009.   

LEAGUE LEADER:  Sophomore safety Mark Giacomantonio missed three games with injuries during the 2009 campaign, but he still wound up leading the PFL in pass interceptions with five (0.56 pg).  The second-year defensive back ranked ninth in the NCAA Division I FCS in pass thefts, and he racked up the most pass interceptions by a Butler player since 2003. 

RUSH JOB:  Junior Scott Gray rushed for more yards in 2009 than any Butler player in the past seven seasons.  The Butler rushing leader picked up 868 yards on 169 attempts (5.1) this year.  The last Butler player to run for more yards was Dale Jennings, who picked up 973 yards in 2002.  Gray, who had 88 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushing attempts against Central Connecticut State, wound up third in the PFL in rushing (72.3 yards per game).

PRIME TARGET:  Sophomore Zach Watkins turned in a record-setting performance in his first season as a starting wide receiver for the Bulldogs.  He finished with a league-leading 78 catches, breaking the previous Butler single season mark of 73, set by Tom Redmond in 1973!  Watkins’ total stands second on the Pioneer Football League single season list for receptions, trailing only the 102 catches of San Diego’s John Matthews in 2008.  The Butler wide receiver finished fourth in the PFL in receiving yards (76.5 pg), and he tied for fifth in the league in scoring with 10 touchdowns.

Zach Watkins is the 12th Butler player to record over 100 career receptions (106).

PEER REVIEW:  Butler head coach Jeff Voris was the hands-down choice for Coach of the Year in the Pioneer Football League this season.  Voris, in his fourth season with the Bulldogs, guided Butler to a school-record for victories and a share of the 2009 PFL title, Butler’s first since 1994.  And he did it with a team that was picked to finish fifth in the PFL’s preseason poll.  Voris has increased Butler’s win total in each season that he’s coached the Bulldogs.

Jeff Voris is the first Butler football coach to be named PFL Coach of the Year.

ALL-LEAGUE:  Butler was represented by 14 players on the 2009 Pioneer Football League All-League Team, selected by league coaches and released on Nov. 24.  Chosen first team All-League were senior defensive back Spencer Summerville, junior offensive lineman Donnie Gilmore, junior running back Scott Gray and sophomore wide receiver Zach Watkins.  Butler’s second team players were senior wide receiver Dan Bohrer, senior offensive lineman Brian Crable, junior offensive lineman Mike Staniewicz, sophomore linebacker Nick Caldicott and sophomore defensive lineman Grant Hunter.  Earning honorable mention on the All-League team were sophomore quarterback Andrew Huck, senior linebacker Derek Guggenberger, sophomore defensive back Mark Giacomantonio, freshman punter Michael Wilson and sophomore return specialist Jordan Koopman.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler became the fourth team in PFL history to record 10 victories in a season, following Dayton (1996, 2001, 2002, 2007), San Diego (2005, 2006) and Drake (2004).

•The Bulldogs put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time as a Division I program.  Butler’s last back-to-back winning seasons came in 1991 and 1992, when the Bulldogs were competing in the NCAA Division II.

•The Bulldogs led the PFL and set a Butler single season record with 4,644 yards in total offense in 2009.  This year’s squad racked up 2,113 rushing yards and 2,531 passing yards.

•Butler led the PFL in fewest quarterback sacks allowed.  The Bulldogs yielded 14 quarterback sacks on the season.

•The Bulldogs topped the PFL in first downs (21.2), third down conversions (.417), interceptions (18) and turnover margin (+7, 0.58).

•Quarterback Andrew Huck finished second in the PFL in total offense with 2,921 yards (243.4). With just the national championship game remaining, he ranks 27th in the NCAA Division I FCS

•Defensive end Grant Hunter, who didn’t play in three Butler games because of illness, wound up second in the PFL in quarterback sacks (0.83).  He ranks 11th in the NCAA Division I FCS in sacks.

•Zach Watkins stands fourth on Butler’s single season list for receiving yards with 918 this season.

•Jordan Koopman finished second in the PFL in kick return average (22.7) in 2009.  He ranked fifth in the league in all-purpose yards (1,122).

•Punter Michael Wilson led the PFL in 2009 in number of punts inside the 20-yard line (29).  Wilson had seven punt of 50 or more yards, including a long punt of 69 yards.

•Senior wide receiver Dan Bohrer tied the Butler career record for games played (44).  Dale Murzyn (2004-07) and Rob Noel (2005-08) also played in 44 games during their Butler careers.

•Offensive guard Donnie Gilmore started his 34th consecutive game for the Bulldogs in the Gridiron Classic victory.