Bulldogs Upend San Diego On Late Field Goal

Sophomore placekicker David Lang unleashed the biggest field goal of his young career with just 0:01.9 showing on the clock to lift Butler to a dramatic, 25-24, victory over visiting San Diego in front of a Homecoming crowd at the Butler Bowl on Saturday (Oct. 3).  The victory moved the Bulldogs to 5-0 on the season for the first time since 1991.

Lang’s game-winner from 37 yards out capped a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive that consumed just 0:41 on the clock and boosted Butler to 2-0 in the Pioneer Football League.  It also provided a measure of redemption for the kicker, who had missed two extra point kick attempts earlier in the game.

“I wasn’t really thinking about anything except keeping my head down and making good contact,” said the Butler placekicker of the game-winning kick.  “The snap by Taylor (Clarkson) was really good and Logan (Sullivan) got the ball down in a great position.”

He hit it solid and when the ball sailed over the crossbar, Butler had its first lead in the game.  And when safety Spencer Sullivan made the final tackle on the ensuing kickoff, Butler had its first victory over San Diego since 2001, snapping the Toreros seven-game winning streak in the series.

The events leading up to the game-winner certainly reduced the odds of Butler even having a chance at the final decisive play.  The Bulldogs were driving for a go-ahead score with just under five minutes remaining and moved the ball all the way to the San Diego 20-yard line.  But on first down, San Diego’s Al-Rilwan Adeyemi intercepted a pass from Butler quarterback Andrew Huck at the two-yard line and returned it to the 31-yard line.

San Diego (2-2, 1-1 PFL) then drove the ball to the Butler 49-yard line, before the Bulldogs held with less than a minute remaining.  Kyle Negrete’s punt for the Toreros pinned the Bulldogs on their own five-yard line with just 0:42 remaining.

But Huck engineered a near-flawless final drive, completing five of six passes for 63 yards.  The second-year signal caller worked the sidelines with wide receivers Zach Watkins and Dan Bohrer for 56 yards on four completions, and the Bulldogs’ also picked up a 12-yard pass interference call.  Huck’s final pass was for seven yards to wide receiver Eddie McHale, who stepped out of bounds at the San Diego 20-yard line to set up the game winner in the closing seconds.

“There was no head-hanging when we were intercepted late,” said Butler head coach Jeff Voris after the game.  “Both sides of the ball have great belief in each other, and we truly believed that we were going to get the ball back with a chance to win it.”

Butler was forced to come-from-behind the entire game against the PFL’s preseason favorite.  San Diego took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 44-yard field goal by Mike Levine, but the Bulldogs answered with a 39-yard field goal by Lang early in the second period.

San Diego then sandwiched a one-yard scoring run by JT Rogan and a 13-yard Sam Scudellari to Patrick Doyle touchdown pass around a 12-yard touchdown run by Butler’s Scott Gray to take a 17-9 halftime lead.

Butler cut the margin to two on Ryan Hitchcock’s 43-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but San Diego struck back with an 11-yard touchdown run by Matt Jelmini early in the fourth period.  The Bulldogs again cut the lead to two points, 24-22, on a 21-yard Huck to Watkins touchdown pass with 9:32 left, setting up the exciting final minutes.

Huck, a three-time PFL Player of the Week, hit on 25 of 38 passes with the one interception for 260 yards.  Watkins caught eight of those passes for 97 yards, while Bohrer had eight catches for 79 yards.  Bohrer’s effort moved him into third place on Butler’s all-time receiving list with 2,002 career receiving yards.

Gray finished as the game’s leading rusher with 113 yards on 16 carries.  Jelmini had 112 rushing yards on 22 carries to lead the Toreros.  Scudellari finished with 17 completions in 28 attempts for 175 yards.

Summerville led Butler’s defense with a career-high 13 tackles, including a career-best nine solo tackles.

Butler will have an extra week to enjoy the victory over San Diego.  The Bulldogs have an open week in the schedule, before returning to action at home against Valparaiso on Oct. 17.