November 6, 2010

Butler Falls At Home To League-Leading Jacksonville

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.. -- Butler held league-leading Jacksonville more than 20 points below its season scoring average, but still came up on the short end of a 24-16 final score in a Pioneer Football League game at the Butler Bowl on Saturday.  The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 4-6 on the season and 2-5 in the PFL with one game remaining.

Jacksonville quarterback Josh McGregor led the Dolphins on a pair of fourth quarter scoring drives to help his team pull out the come-from-behind victory.  He found wide receiver Josh Philpart with a 27-yard touchdown pass just under four minutes into the final period to give Jacksonville its first lead in the game, 17-13, and then took advantage of a Butler turnover to engineer a second touchdown drive five minutes later.

The back-to-back scores proved enough to lift Jacksonville to its eighth straight win.

“We gave them three short fields there in the second half” said Butler head coach Jeff Voris after the game.  “The defense played their hearts out, but in a game like this you’ve got to force them to make plays and put yourself in positive positions.

Butler, playing its final 2010 home game, jumped to a 10-0 lead over the Dolphins.  Quarterback Andrew Huck found tight end Carter Walley with a three-yard touchdown pass with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter for the game’s first score, and junior David Lang added a 26-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter for the early lead.

McGregor countered with a five-yard touchdown pass to Chris Kuck with 11:26 remaining in the half, but the Bulldogs carried a 10-7 lead to the locker room at halftime.

The Dolphins tied the  game on a 40-yard Josh Hostetler field goal in the third quarter, but Lang put Butler back on top with a 32-yard field goal early in the final period.  McGregor then engineered a seven-play, 77-yard drive to put his team back on top for good and the Dolphins took advantage of three Butler turnovers in the final 12 minutes to hold on to the lead.

Lang finished the scoring with a 33-yard field goal in the final minute, his school-record 14th field goal of the season.

Jacksonville (9-1, 7-0 PFL) entered the game as the top offensive team in the NCAA Division I FCS, averaging 45.4 points and 512.6 yards per game.  Butler’s defense limited the Dolphins to 341 yards, including just 78 on the ground!

“We played well on defense and got (Jacksonville) off the field,” said Voris.  “They don’t punt the ball very much.  I thought we did an outstanding job getting the ball out of (Josh McGregor’s) hands and did an even better job against the run.  But we gave them too many chances in the second half.”

Linebacker Jordan Ridley, the leading tackler in the PFL, led Butler's defensive effort with 12 tackles and one forced fumble.  Senior cornerback Tadd Dombart, playing his final game in the Butler Bowl, finished with five tackles and a fumble recovery, while senior linebacker Andrew Cottrell (right) had a pass interception and 16-yard return to set up Lang’s second field goal.

McGregor, the PFL’s leading passer, completed 23 of 35 passes for 263 yards.  Huck countered with 28 completions out of 48 attempts for 248 yards, but he was intercepted twice in the final period.  Butler wide receiver Zach Watkins (above) finished with nine catches for 92 yards, while senior Scott Gray led Butler’s ground attack with 48 yards on 15 carries.

Butler will close out the 2010 campaign on the road with a PFL game at Drake on Saturday, Nov. 13.