Bulldogs Rally Past Franklin

Bulldogs Rally Past Franklin
Matt Lancaster (Photo by Brent Smith)

FRANKLIN, IND. -- Quarterback Matt Lancaster passed for one touchdown and ran for two more to lead visiting Butler to a 31-28 come-from-behind victory over Franklin at Red Faught Stadium on Saturday night (Sept. 14).  The win was Butler's second straight and lifted the Bulldogs to 2-1 on the season.

Lancaster capped an 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to break a 21-21 tie.  Butler's defense then stopped the Grizzlies on four plays deep in Franklin territory, and the Bulldogs stretched the lead to ten points on Jon Treloar's 38-yard field goal with just 0:41 left.

But the Grizzlies (0-2), ranked No. 13 in the NCAA Division III, weren't done.  Zack Corpe returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, and Butler had to recover and on-sides kick to seal the three-point win.

"It was a battle," said Butler Head Coach Jeff Voris after the win. "We were too up and down for the type of game it was going to be.  They're too good a team and they were too locked in, and they played better than we did."

The Bulldogs, coming off a home win over Division III No. 10 Wittenberg, fell behind, 14-0, in the first half, before mounting an 80-yard scoring drive late in the second quarter.  Lancaster capped that drive with a one-yard touchdown run to cut Franklin's lead to 14-7 at halftime.

"We didn't match (Franklin's) emotion and intensity to start the game," noted Voris.  "They executed well and played with great emotion, and we didn't match the level that they were playing at early in the game."

"The 18-play drive right before half kind of got us back in it."

Voris' squad then took the second-half kickoff and marched 67 yards in 11 plays to tie the game.  Running back Trae Heeter finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.  The Bulldogs took their first lead in the game later in the third quarter on Lancaster's two-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Collins.

Franklin tied the game with a 78-yard scoring drive midway through the final period, setting up the late-game fireworks.

Lancaster completed 24 of 33 passes for 221 yards, and he added 37 rushing yards on nine attempts.  Heeter, who sparked Butler's initial scoring drive, rushed for 129 yards on 27 carries.  Wide receiver Brendan Shannon was Lancaster's top target, and he finished with 11 receptions for 119 yards.

Defensive back Sean Grady led the Bulldogs with nine tackles in the win, while linebackers Phillip Powell and Bryce Barry each finished with eight stops.  Defensive back David Burke had one of the team's biggest defensive plays with an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter with the game tied, 21-21.  Butler scored the go-ahead touchdown on its next possession.

The Bulldogs will return to the Butler Bowl to host Dartmouth of the Ivy League on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m. (ET)