November 6, 2012

League Champ Butler Ends Season At Drake

Butler at Drake
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2 p.m. (ET)
Drake Stadium - Des Moines, Iowa
Live Stats

FEATURE GAME:  Butler, having already clinched a tie for the league title, can claim outright possession of the Pioneer Football League championship when it visits Drake on Saturday, Nov. 10.  The showdown between the PFL's top two teams is set for 2 p.m. (ET) at Drake Stadium.  Butler clinched its second PFL title in four years with a dramatic, 19-16, come-from-behind victory over Jacksonville in the final regular season game at the Butler Bowl.  That win, combined with Drake's 28-13 loss at Dayton, left Butler (8-2, 7-0 PFL) as the last unbeaten team in the PFL.  Drake (6-3, 5-1 PFL) sits second in the league standings, one-half game ahead of San Diego (5-3, 4-1 PFL).  Butler, which shared the PFL crown with Dayton in 1994 and 2009, is seeking its first outright PFL championship.  The Indianapolis squad was picked seventh in the annual PFL preseason coaches poll.                      

Butler's seven-game winning streak is the longest in the PFL this season.

GAME BROADCAST:  Butler's final regular season game at Drake will be webcast on www.butlersports.com.  Play-by-play for the broadcast will be handled by Butler graduate Mark Minner '12.

PHOTO FINISH:  Butler went right to the wire to pull out a dramatic win over visiting Jacksonville.  Trailing by three points late in the game, the Bulldogs drove 95 yards in 14 plays in the final 2:55, and quarterback Matt Lancaster scored on a one-yard plunge with just two seconds remaining to give Butler the win.  Lancaster's game-winning play came on a fourth-and-goal situation from the one-yard line, and it gave the Bulldogs their first lead in the contest.  Butler trailed 10-0 early in the game and 13-7 at halftime.  The Bulldogs did tie the contest at 13-13 in the third quarter, but Jacksonville went back in front on Dylan Lynch's third field goal of the game later in the third period.  Lancaster completed five of 10 passes on the game-winning drive, and Jacksonville aided the drive with a pair of pass interference calls.  Butler had a first-and-goal at the Jacksonville two-yard line in the closing seconds, but an incomplete pass and two rushing attempts netted just one yard prior to Lancaster's clutch play.  It was Butler's first victory in eight games against Jacksonville.  
   
LEAGUE HONOR:  Quarterback Matt Lancaster was named PFL Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Butler's title-clinching victory.  Lancaster completed 23 of 43 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and he scored the game-winning touchdown with two seconds remaining.  He completed five passes for 61 yards on Butler's game-winning final drive.  Valparaiso's Jake Hutson, who rushed for 248 yards and three touchdowns in the Crusaders' 41-24 victory over Campbell, shared the league's weekly honor.
    
PASSING GRADE:  Junior Matt Lancaster boosted his season passing total to 2,460 yards and moved into third place on Butler's all-time single season passing list.  He climbed ahead of Andrew Huck, who passed for 2,454 yards in 2009.  Lancaster trails Matt Kobli (2008) in second place on Butler's all-time passing list by 58 yards.  DeWayne Ewing owns Butler's single season passing record with 3,182 yards in 2000.  Lancaster has 19 touchdown passes this season, four shy of the Butler single season record set by Kobli in 2008.  

Matt Lancaster leads the PFL in total offense (290.3).

PRIME TARGET:  With top receiver Brendan Shannon sidelined by injury, quarterback Matt Lancaster looked to wide receiver Derek O'Connor, and the sophomore delivered in a big way.  O'Connor caught a game-high seven passes for 99 yards, including five for 82 yards in the second half, to help spark Butler's victory.  He had a pair of receptions for 33 yards on Butler's game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

TOP THREE:  Senior Jordan Ridley chalked up eight tackles against Jacksonville and became just the third player in Butler football history to record 400 career tackles.  Chuck Orban (1987-90) is No. 1 on Butler's all-time list for tackles with 487, while Dave Ginn (1981-84) stands second all-time with 468 stops.  Ridley, who led the Pioneer Football league in tackles in both 2010 and 2011, enters his final regular season game with 403 career tackles.

Jordan Ridley ranks sixth in the PFL in tackles (9.7).

TWO RINGS:  Prior to the Jacksonville game, Butler honored seven seniors who were playing their final game in the Butler Bowl.  Those seven, Jordan Ridley, Matt Storey, Jace Tennant, Brett Thomaston, Bobby McDonald, David Thomas and Paul Sciortino along with redshirt-juniors Sean Grady, Dan Haber, Tom Judge, Brendan Shannon and Doug Petty, are the first Butler players to be a part of two Pioneer Football League championship squads (2009 & 2012).

BULLDOG BITS:

•Junior running back Trae Heeter continues to lead the PFL in rushing (109.8), despite missing most of the Jacksonville game with injury.  Heeter boasts a league-high 11 touchdowns.

•Trae Heeter ranks second in the PFL in all-purpose yards (122.5).

•Quarterback Matt Lancaster ranks fourth in the PFL in pass efficiency (142.3) and sixth in passing average (245.5 ypg).

•Senior Jordan Ridley had a game-high 13 tackles against Drake last year.

•Junior Jeremy Stephens had a pair of quarterback sacks in Butler's victory over Jacksonville.  He ranks second in the PFL in quarterback sacks (0.85) on the year.

•Jeremy Stephens has a PFL-high 12.5 tackles for loss.  He ranks third in the league in tackles for loss/game (1.25).

•Junior safety Jayme Szafranski led the Bulldogs with nine tackles against Jacksonville.  Szafranski ranks 14th in the PFL in tackles (7.3).

•Junior Sean Grady, who batted down the final pass attempt by Jacksonville in Butler's title-clinching win, ranks fourth in the PFL in passes defended (1.00).

•Sophomore linebacker Christian Eble ranks third in the PFL in forced fumbles (0.30).

•Freshman tight end Zack Wolfe came up with his first collegiate touchdown catch to help the Bulldogs slip past Jacksonville.  Wolfe's three-yard TD reception tied the game at 13-13.

•Junior wide receiver Brendan Shannon, who missed the Jacksonville game with injury, ranks third in the PFL in receptions per game (5.4) and stands fifth in the league in receiving yards per game (73.8).  

•Sophomore Derek O'Connor is tied for eighth in the PFL in receptions per game (4.7), and he ranks seventh in the league in receiving yards per game (63.8).

•Senior offensive lineman Matt Storey has started 32 consecutive games for the Bulldogs.

•Senior kicker Brett Thomaston is second in the PFL in touchbacks on kickoffs (15).