October 27, 2010

Butler Visits Valparaiso For Hoosier Helmet Tilt

TROPHY GAME:  Butler will be trying for a turnaround in the Pioneer Football League when it visits state rival Valparaiso for the annual Hoosier Helmet game on Saturday, Oct. 30.  The trophy game at Valparaiso’s Brown Field is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CT, 2 p.m. in Indianapolis).  The defending champion Bulldogs have dropped back-to-back league games, including a 21-20 decision at home to Morehead State last weekend, and enter the final three weeks of the regular season with a 1-4 PFL record.  Butler is 3-5 on the season, including a 2-2 mark on the road.  Valparaiso is 0-5 in PFL action and looking for its first win in eight overall contests this season.  The Crusaders dropped a 30-10 decision at San Diego last weekend.  Butler has two straight wins over the Crusaders, and the Bulldogs have taken six of the last 10 meetings with their long-standing Indiana opponent.
                                                           
Butler is 15-14 all-time in games played at Valparaiso.

HOOSIER HELMET:  The Hoosier Helmet Trophy was added to the long-standing Butler-Valparaiso football series in 2006.  The white helmet on a wooden base sports a Valparaiso logo on one side and a Butler logo on the other and is presented to the winner of the annual meeting after the game.  The Bulldogs have captured the helmet in three of the four previous trophy games, including the past two.

FINAL DECISION:  Butler drove 66 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 29-yard field goal by junior David Lang with less than a minute remaining to take a 20-18 lead over Morehead State.  But the visiting Eagles only needed 48 seconds to regain the lead and ultimately decide the outcome.  Morehead State quarterback Zach Lewis completed four passes for 55 yards and marched the Eagles to the Butler six-yard line on the decisive final-minute drive.  Kicker Rainer Duzan then finished the march with a 23-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining to give Morehead State the one-point, come-from-behind victory.  Both teams had two touchdowns and two field goals in the game, but a third-quarter safety by the Eagles spelled the difference.       

CAREER DAY:  Sophomore Jordan Ridley turned in the best individual defensive performance by a Butler player this season in the Bulldogs game against Morehead State.  He finished with a career-high 17 tackles, including eight solo stops, and he had four tackles for loss, including a pair of quarterback sacks.  The Butler linebacker also came up with an acrobatic pass interception when he leaped to tip a pass, spun in the air and made a diving catch before hitting the ground.  His pass theft late in the third quarter led to a go-ahead touchdown by the Bulldogs early in the final period.  Ridley’s 17 stops against the Eagles matched the most by a PFL player in a league game this year.
     
Jordan Ridley ranks seventh in the NCAA Division I FCS in tackles.

HANDS DOWN:  Junior wide receiver Zach Watkins fueled Butler’s passing attack against Morehead State with eight receptions for a season-high 118 yards.  He had a season-long, 45-yard catch in the game to set up an early Butler scoring opportunity, and he later made a high-flying grab in the end zone, which was narrowly ruled out.  It was the second straight year that Watkins turned in a prime time performance against Morehead State.  A year ago, the first team All-PFL end caught 13 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Bulldogs to a 28-21 overtime victory over the Eagles.

Zach Watkins ranks third in the PFL in receptions per game (5.4).

FEELING DEFENSIVE:  Despite giving up 400 yards in the loss to Morehead State, Butler continues to lead the PFL in both total defense (317.5) and pass defense (164.5).  The Bulldogs stand third in the league in pass efficiency defense (120.4) and fourth in scoring defense (22.1).  On the national front, Butler ranks 24th in pass defense and 28th in total defense.  

DEEP KICK:  Junior David Lang recorded a career-long, 45-yard field goal against Morehead State.  He also had a 29-yard field goal in the contest.  Lang, who now has nine field goals on the season, is closing in on the Butler single season record for field goals (11), shared by John Jenkins (1987) and Tim Witmer (1990).  The former Lowell High School kicker leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 39 points.
 
David Lang leads the PFL in field goals.

MOVING UP:  Junior quarterback Andrew Huck passed for 180 yards (15-31-0) against Morehead State and moved into seventh place on Butler’s all-time passing list.  Huck, who has thrown for 3,736 yards during his Butler career, is 54 yards behind Jason Stahl (3,790,1992-94) in the No. 6 position on Butler’s all-time list.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Sophomore linebacker Jordan Ridley continues to lead the PFL in tackles (11.8).  He tops the circuit in assists (61) and is tied for third in solo tackles (34).

•Junior running back Ryan Hitchcock scored his first 2010 touchdown on a 10-yard run in the third quarter against Morehead State.  Hitchcock, Butler’s third-leading rusher a year ago, has 11 career touchdowns, including two against Valparaiso last year.

•Linebacker Nick Caldicott recorded a season-high 10 tackles against Morehead State.  The total was one off his career-high, set against Davidson last year.

•Sophomore Michael Wilson, who averaged 40.2 yards on five punts against Morehead State, ranks third in the PFL and 25th in the NCAA Division I (FCS) in punting (40.8).  He leads the PFL in punts dropped inside the 20-yard line (13).

•Freshman Trae Heeter averaged 24.3 yards on three kickoff returns against Morehead State.  The first-year back ranks fourth in the PFL in kick return average (21.8).

•Wide receiver Zach Watkins moved into ninth place on Butler’s all-time list for pass receiving yards with his performance against Morehead State.  Watkins has racked up 1,682 yards in 28 career games.  He needs 20 yards to catch Mike Chrobot (1,702, 1975-78) in the No. 8 position.

•Zach Watkins has moved into second place on Butler’s all-time list for receptions with 149 career catches.  Butler’s all-time record of 192 receptions is held by Watkins’ former teammate, Dan Bohrer (2006-09).

•Juniors Jordan Koopman and Zach Watkins are tied for seventh in the PFL in receiving yards per game (54.4).  Koopman ranks fourth in the league in receptions per game (5.0), one spot behind Watkins (5.4).

•Senior Tadd Dombart ranks sixth in the PFL in punt return average (6.1).

•Senior offensive tackle Mike Staniewicz has started 31 consecutive games and 41 of 42 games during his Butler career.

•Butler starting safety Mark Giacomantonio (knee) and senior captain Donnie Gilmore (knee) continue to be sidelined with injuries.  Gilmore, who had started 37 consecutive games on the offensive line for Butler, was injured in the Taylor game.