PHOTO GALLERY (photos by Jim White)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback Andrew Huck passed for four touchdowns and corner back Sean Grady had a school-record 90-yard interception return for a score to help lead Butler to a 42-14 victory over Valparaiso in a Pioneer Football League rivalry game at the Butler Bowl on Saturday (Oct. 15). The win gave Butler the "Hoosier Helmet" trophy for the fourth consecutive year.
Huck, a senior from Bloomington, Ind., had a hand in Butler's first four touchdowns in the game. He threw a 29-yard scoring aerial to wide receiver Jordan Koopman late in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 advantage, and then, following a Valparaiso touchdown, he threw three consecutive touchdown passes to wide receiver Zach Watkins to give Butler control of the game.
Grady (left) entered his name in the Butler record book with his pass interception to start the fourth period. He picked off a throw from Valparaiso quarterback Eric Hoffman at the Butler 10-yard line, reversed his field and raced down the right sideline to the end zone to boost Butlers advantage to 35-7. His 90-yard return erased the previous Butler record of 89 yards, set by Derek Bradford against Valparaiso in 2008.
The 42 points were the most scored by the Bulldogs this season, but that was about the only statistic Butler won. Valparaiso (0-6, 0-4 PFL) ran 100 plays in the game to just 51 for the Bulldogs, and the Crusaders rolled up 463 yards in total offense to 400 for the home squad.
The Crusaders started strongly, driving inside the Butler 20-yard line on each of their first two possession and then scoring a touchdown on their third. But the Bulldogs responded with 28 unanswered points through the second and fourth quarters.
"This is one of those 'throw the records and stats out' games. A trophy game and an in-state rivalry, you're going to get their best shot, and we had to weather the storm there," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris.
"The biggest thing is you have to have the mental toughness to handle the start and you've got to have the mental toughness to play the full 60 minutes. That's where I think we won out in the end. We just kept lining up an playing and kept them out of the end zone early, which was huge."
"The big part of the game was the third quarter. The fast start offensively and a couple quick stops there helped us," continued the Butler coach.
Huck, who completed 14 of 26 passes for 189 yards, broke a 7-7 deadlock in the second quarter with a 13-yard strike to Watkins. That pass gave Butler a 14-7 halftime lead. Huck and Watkins hooked up again from four-yard out less than five minutes into the third quarter, and the two finished the third period with a 22-yard scoring pass.
Butler scored its final touchdown in the final period on a two-play, 66-yard drive engineered by quarterback Tom Judge. The sophomore signal caller his tight end Ryan Webb for a 44-yard gain to the Valparaiso 22-yard line, and then he found tight end Matt Jenson with a 22-yard scoring strike.
Watkins, Butler's all-time leading pass catcher, finished with seven receptions for 98 yards, while Koopman had four catches for 68 yards. Huck and freshman Don Stewart, Jr., led Butler's ground attack with 64 yards each. The Bulldogs passed for 255 yards and rushed for 145.
Linebacker Jordan Ridley (right), who leads the PFL in tackles, had a career day with 20 tackles in the game. That total topped his previous high of 19 tackles, set one week earlier. Freshman Zack Sedivy added a career-high 12 tackles.
Butler will continue its current homestand with its Homecoming contest against Marist next Saturday, Oct. 22. That game at the Butler Bowl will start at 1 p.m.