SOUTHERN SET: Butler will face the first
of consecutive North Carolina foes when it heads to Buies Creek,
N.C., to take on Campbell in a Pioneer Football League game on
Saturday, Oct. 24. The two league opponents will square off
at 1 p.m. (ET) at Barker-Lane Stadium on the Campbell campus.
The Bulldogs picked up their sixth consecutive win with a 23-14
decision over Valparaiso in the annual Hoosier Helmet Game at the
Butler Bowl last weekend. The victory lifted Butler to 6-0
for the first time since 1983, the year that the Bulldogs went on
to make their first NCAA playoff appearance. Campbell (1-5,
0-3 PFL) stepped out of league play last week and dropped a 28-17
decision at Old Dominion. The Bulldogs (3-0 PFL) will be
visiting Campbell for the second consecutive year. Following
the Campbell game, Butler will return to Indianapolis to host
Davidson (N.C.) on Oct.
Butler is one of just four unbeaten teams in the NCAA Division I FCS.
ON THE AIR: For the fifth straight year, Butler football games can be heard on XL 950 (AM) in Indianapolis and on the internet at BigPlayProductions.com. Calling the game are play-by-play announcer Brian Giffin and former Butler football coach Ken LaRose. This weekend’s game against Campbell will be carried live on the internet, starting with a pre-game show at 12:40 p.m. (ET) and will be tape-delayed on XL 950, starting at approximately 4 p.m.
GROUNDED PERFORMANCE: Butler’s normally pass-minded offense took a more grounded approach against Valparaiso, and the Bulldogs wound up with a season-high 247 rushing yards in the win. Five different players contributed to the total, and all three Butler touchdowns were scored on the ground. Sophomore Ryan Hitchcock scored on runs of four and two yards, while junior Scott Gray found the end zone from seven yards out. Gray wound up leading the Bulldogs with 99 yards on 22 carries. The 247 rush yards were the most for Butler since last year’s game at Campbell (269).
Butler has moved into second place in the PFL in team
rushing offense (170.5 ypg).
SACK WRAPPED: A pair of quarterback sacks played a big role in Butler’s come-from-behind victory over Valparaiso. The first was turned in by linebacker Nick Caldicott, who blind-sided Valparaiso quarterback Quinn Schafer and forced a fumble at the Butler 42-yard line. The Bulldogs recovered the ball and began a six-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Scott Gray’s seven-yard touchdown run to give Butler a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The second sack by defensive end Grant Hunter and linebacker Jordan Ridley stopped the Crusaders’ last ditch drive on fourth down at the Valparaiso two-yard line and led to Butler’s final insurance touchdown. The Bulldogs, who rank second in the PFL in quarterback sacks (21), had four total sacks for a loss of 22 yards in the win over Valparaiso.
Butler defensive end Grant Hunter is tied for second in the NCAA Division I FCS in quarterback sacks (1.25 pg).
REPLACEMENT PARTS: With starting linebacker Andrew Cottrell sidelined by illness and free safety Mark Giacomantonio out with injury, Butler head coach Jeff Voris turned to senior Brian Adika and sophomore Logan Sullivan against Valparaiso. Both answered the call. Adika, getting his first start at linebacker, led all players with a career-high 13 tackles, while Sullivan chipped in with seven tackles and one pass breakup as a starting safety. The two helped Butler’s defensive unit limit Valparaiso to just 249 total yards and one offensive touchdown.
PRODUCTIVE MINUTES: Tailback Ryan Hitchcock only touched the ball eight times against Valparaiso, but he accounted for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Hitchcock gained a season-high 53 yards on seven carries against the Crusaders, and he scored a pair of second half touchdowns on runs of four yards and two yards. He also caught a 20-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Huck to help set up Butler’s first touchdown.
Ryan Hitchcock had a career-high 109 rushing yards at Campbell last year.
BAND OF THIEVES: Sophomore defensive backs Jack McKenna and Thorn Murphy each recorded his first career pass interception in Butler’s victory over Valparaiso. McKenna picked off a pass from quarterback Bobby Wysocki to stop a late first half drive by the Crusaders, while Murphy ended Valparaiso’s final drive by intercepting a pass from Quinn Schafer. Butler currently leads the PFL in pass interceptions (10).
Butler ranks second in the PFL in turnover margin (+5).
CATCH PHRASE: Sophomore wide receiver Zach Watkins had three catches for 22 yards against Valparaiso, giving him 44 receptions on the season for 576 yards. He currently ranks eighth in the NCAA Division I FCS in receptions per game (7.33), stands 10th in receiving yards per game (96.0) and ranks 13th in the nation in total receiving yards. He’s five catches shy of 10th place on Butler’s single season receptions chart.
Zach Watkins leads the PFL in receptions per game (7.3).
•Butler leads the PFL in scoring offense (34.8) and total
offense (403.7). The Bulldogs are second in the league in
pass offense (233.2), rushing offense (170.5) and pass efficiency
•The Bulldogs stand ninth in the NCAA Division I FCS in total defense (261.0), 10th in rushing defense (82.5) and 10th in passing efficiency defense (98.98). Butler also is 10th in the FCS in scoring offense (34.83).
•Quarterback Andrew Huck is tied for 18th in the NCAA Division I FCS in passing completions per game (20.83) and he’s 19th in total offense (260.83). He continues to lead the PFL in total offense, and he’s second in the league in passing average (220.3).
•Andrew Huck scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 39-yard run at Campbell last year.
•Sophomore Zach Watkins ranks second in the PFL and 21st in the NCAA Division I FCS in scoring (8.00).
•Sophomore David Lang kicked a 37-yard field goal against Valparaiso, his fourth this season without a miss. Lang is tied for the PFL lead in field goal percentage (1.000).
•Junior Scott Gray has scored 21 touchdowns in 18 career games at Butler. Gray was injured an did not play in last year’s game at Campbell.
•Senior Dan Bohrer, who caught nine passes for 101 yards at Campbell last year, enters this week’s action with 2,006 career receiving yards. He’s 64 yards shy of Adam Lafferty (1999-2002) in second place on Butler’s all-time receiving list and 170 yards away from the all-time record held by Eric Voss (2,176 yards, 1990-93).
•Freshman Michael Wilson has taken over third place in the PFL in punting with a 39.8 average.
•Offensive guard Donnie Gilmore started his 28th consecutive game for the Bulldogs in the victory over Valparaiso.
ON THIS DATE: Four different players scored touchdowns and Butler avenged its only loss of the previous season with a 27-0 Homecoming victory over Ball State on Oct. 24, 1959. Dave Flowers, Elmer O’Banion, John Skirchak and Kent Stewart each scored a touchdown for the Bulldogs, who went on to post Butler’s first unbeaten, untied season (9-0).