Butler Comeback Falls Short Against Dartmouth

Butler Comeback Falls Short Against Dartmouth
Matt Lancaster (Photo by Zach Bolinger)

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Quarterback Matt Lancaster had a record-setting passing night and led Butler on two late fourth quarter touchdown drives.  But the Bulldogs' final drive came up short and Butler dropped a 30-23 non-conference decision to visiting Dartmouth on Saturday (Sept. 21) night.

Lancaster set Butler single game records with 42 completions and 68 pass attempts, and he finished with a career-best 395 passing yards.  He threw a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for a third.  And he drove the Bulldogs (2-2) to the Dartmouth 34-yard line in the final minute, before the Big Green defense stopped the final march.

"Matt made some big throws," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris.  "He did a great job of recognizing defenses and distributing the ball to the right guy.  He made some throws that I haven't seen guys make before."

The Bulldogs, playing in front of a crowd of 3,194 at the Butler Bowl, rallied from a 30-10 deficit in the final period.  Lancaster capped a 13-play, 81-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Collins with 7:26 left in the game to trim the Dartmouth lead to 14.  He then finished a 67-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 2:11 left to make it 30-23.

Butler's defense, led by linebacker Bryce Barry and defensive back David Burke, then held Dartmouth, and the Bulldogs had a final opportunity with 1:03 remaining.  Butler drove from its own six-yard line to the Dartmouth 34, where the Big Green held off the final three pass attempts by the Butler quarterback.

"We're proud of our effort and the course we've set moving forward.  But I think when we go back and really study it, we're going to be hurting a little bit with our unforced errors," added Butler's coach.

Dartmouth, the first Ivy League football team to play at Butler, jumped out to a strong start behind quarterback Dalyn Williams and running back Dominick Pierre.  Williams led the Big Green on a 64-yard scoring drive on their first possession and capped the march with a one-yard touchdown run.

Butler countered with a 34-yard field goal by Jon Treloar, but Pierre had touchdown runs on the next two Dartmouth possessions to make it 21-3 early in the second period.  He scored on a 19-yard run at the end of the first quarter and on a one-yard run early in the second quarter.

Lancaster found wide receiver Brendan Shannon with a nine-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter to cut the Dartmouth lead to 21-10 at halftime.

"There was some uncertainty with their opening game and what you're actually going to get," said Voris of the Bulldogs' start.  "I'm sure they had a little bit better idea of what we were going to do, than maybe we did of them."

Pierre added a four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Dartmouth stretched the lead to 20 points on a 42-yard Riley Lyons field goal in the fourth period.  That set the stage for Butler's late rally.

The two teams combined for for nearly 1,000 yards in total offense.  Dartmouth finished with 497 total yards, while Butler compiled 480 yards.  There were 59 first downs in the game, including 31 by the Bulldogs.

Lancaster broke his own school mark of 53 pass attempts, which he set last year against Morehead State.  And he broke the previous Butler mark of 36 completions, set by DeWayne Ewing against St. Francis (Ind.) in 2000.

Butler finished with a pair of 100-yard receiving performances.  Junior JT Mesch had a career-high 13 catches for 112 yards, while Shannon finished with 100 yards on eight receptions.  Eight different Bulldogs were on the receiving end of Lancaster's aerials.

Senior Trae Heeter led Butler's rushing attack with 74 yards on 14 carries.  Williams led the Big Green with 119 yards on 18 carries, while Pierre finished with 93 yards on 23 attempts.  Williams, who played sparingly against the Bulldogs a year ago, also completed 22 of 35 passes for 228 yards.

Barry and Burke topped Butler's defense with nine tackles apiece, while defensive back Jimmy Schwabe added eight.

The Bulldogs will begin Pioneer Football League play on the road next week.  Butler will visit Jacksonville on Saturday, Sept. 28, for a contest that will start at noon.