September 20, 2011

Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs In PFL Opener

DOG SHOW:  Butler will kickoff its 2011 Pioneer Football League bid at home when it hosts Drake on Saturday, Sept. 24.  The game between the two PFL teams that share the same nickname is scheduled for noon (ET) at the Butler Bowl.  Both teams will take a 2-1 record into the league-opener.  Butler’s Bulldogs closed out their pre-league slate with a 23-6 victory at Taylor, while Drake’s Bulldogs slipped past Missouri S & T, 27-23, at home.  Butler enters the game ranked second in the PFL in total offense, while Drake brings the league’s third-best defense to the contest.  Drake was picked third in the preseason poll of PFL coaches, while Butler was tabbed fifth.  The home team has won the last four meetings in the overall series.  Butler will be playing at home for the first time since Sept. 3, and the Bulldogs won’t be home again until Oct. 15.              

Butler’s last two meetings with Drake have been decided by three points.

PFL RECOGNITION:  Sophomore running back Trae Heeter was named Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Butler’s victory at Taylor.  Heeter rushed for a career-high 155 yards on a career-best 23 carries, and he caught three passes for a career-high 59 yards.  His 155 rushing yards are the most by a PFL player this season and the most by a Butler player since 2008, when Dionte Wiggins rushed for 188 yards against Jacksonville.  The second-year back scored Butler’s first touchdown in the game on a 15-yard pass reception, and then he added the team’s second touchdown on a 45-yard run.  Heeter’s 231 all-purpose yards in the game were the ninth-most in the NCAA Division I FCS this season.       

Trae Heeter ranks sixth in the NCAA Division I FCS in all-purpose yards.

NO. 1:  Senior Zach Watkins became Butler’s all-time leader in pass receptions, while helping the Bulldogs to the victory at Taylor.  The 6-2, 200-pound wide receiver from Chicago caught seven passes for 51 yards in the game, boosting his career totals to 197 receptions and 2,217 receiving yards.  Butler’s previous record for catches was 192, set by Dan Bohrer (2006-09).  Watkins also moved into second place on Butler’s all-time list for receiving yards, just 24 yards behind Bohrer.  Only four players in Butler football history have recorded 2,000 career receiving yards.  Watkins, who has 23 catches in Butler’s first three games this season, led the PFL in pass receptions with 78 in 2009 and tied for second in the league with 68 catches last year.

Zach Watkins ranks second in the PFL in both receptions (7.7) and receiving yards (89.0).   

FIRST DEFENSE:  Butler’s offense put up some impressive numbers at Taylor, but it was a solid defensive effort that sparked the Bulldogs’ second victory of the season.  Taylor, unbeaten coming into the game, drove inside the Butler 30-yard line on each of its first three possessions, and Butler’s defense held each time.  The Bulldogs stopped Taylor’s first drive with an interception at the Butler seven-yard line and the second with an interception at the 20-yard line.  The third drive stalled at the Butler 25-yard line.  But the Bulldogs’ most impressive stand came in the third quarter, after Taylor recovered a fumble at the Butler six-yard line.  Four plays later, the Bulldogs took over at their own five-yard line.           

EXCLUSIVE CLUB:  Senior Andrew Huck became just the third player in Butler football history to throw for 5,000 career yards, while leading the Bulldogs past Taylor.  The Butler quarterback completed 22 of 36 passes for 250 yards against the Trojans and boosted his career passing total to 5,093 yards.  DeWayne Ewing (1998-2001) is Butler’s all-time passing leader with 8,094 yards, while Bill Lynch (1972-76) stands second on the all-time list with 5,909 yards.  Huck also tossed his 40th career touchdown pass in Butler’s win at Taylor.  Lynch is the Bulldogs’ all-time record-holder with 60 career TDs.  

STANDING TALL:  Junior Jordan Ridley led the Bulldogs in tackles for the second time in three games and for the 13th time in Butler’s last 14 games.  The talented 6-0, 220-pound linebacker finished with a season-high 14 tackles against the Trojans, including one tackle for loss.  It was the 11th time in his Butler career that he’s had at least 10 tackles in a game.  The former Lawrence Central High School standout also set a tone for the Bulldogs early in the game, when he intercepted a Taylor pass at the Butler seven-yard line to stop the Trojans’ opening drive.  Ridley’s 14 tackles are the most by a PFL player this season.  He also shares the second-highest total with 12 tackles at Indiana State.

Jordan Ridley leads the PFL and ranks 16th in the NCAA Division I FCS in tackles per game (11.0).
 
BULLDOG BITS:

•Wide receiver Zach Watkins ranks tenth in the NCAA Division I FCS in receptions per game (7.67).

•Zach Watkins has 19 receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games against Drake.  He had eight catches for 84 yards and Butler’s lone touchdown in last year’s meeting.

•Quarterback Andrew Huck is completing 71.8% of his passes, and he ranks second in the PFL in passing efficiency (153.5).  Huck set a school record earlier this season with 19 consecutive pass completions against Albion.

•Andrew Huck currently ranks third in the PFL in total offense (288.0).  He stands second on the league’s list of active career leaders with 6,052 total offense yards

•Jordan Ridley led Butler’s defensive effort against Drake last year with 15 tackles.  He also had a 22-yard pass interception return in the game.

•Senior Jordan Koopman shared Butler’s pass receiving lead at Taylor with seven catches for 85 yards.  Koopman is tied for seventh in the PFL in receptions (6.0), and he ranks 10th in the league in receiving yards (64.0).

•Senior Grant Hunter is the PFL’s active career leader in quarterback sacks (25.5), but he’s still looking for his first sack this season.  As a team, Butler has not had a quarterback sack through three games.

•Sophomore Jayme Szafranski came up with his first career pass interception and returned it 24 yards in Butler’s win at Taylor.  His theft, early in the first quarter, stopped the Trojans’ second drive of the contest.

•Senior placekicker David Lang boosted his career total for field goals to 25 with a 22-yard kick at Taylor.  Lang has kicked at least one field goal in nine of Butler’s last 10 games.  Butler’s career record for field goals is 34 (John Jenkins, 1985-88).  Lang is the PFL’s active career leader in field goals.

•Senior linebacker Nick Caldicott had a career-best four tackles for loss in last year’s game at Drake.  He had six total tackles in the contest.    

•Senior offensive lineman Pete Mattingly has started 31 consecutive games for the Bulldogs.