INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler shook off a slow start with a big third quarter performance and knocked off visiting Stetson, 35-15, on Saturday (Oct. 5). The Pioneer Football League win at the Butler Bowl lifted Butler to 2-0 in league play and 4-2 on the season.
The Bulldogs, playing the first of three consecutive home games, pulled away from a 9-7 halftime lead with three third quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Lancaster had a six-yard scoring pass to tight end Zack Wolfe, while running backs Trae Heeter and Rico Watson added rushing touchdowns. Butler added five more points in the final period for the 20-point win.
The start of the game was delayed for 35 minutes because of lightening in the area.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," said head coach Jeff Voris of his team's start. "The weather delay plays into that. And mental preparation. (Stetson) is a talented group that scheme-wise gives you trouble. They do things offensively and defensively that you don't see week in and week out, so preparation was critical."
The Bulldogs never trailed in the game, but Stetson (1-4, 0-2 PFL) stayed with in striking distance in the first half. Butler jumped in front in the first quarter on a 13-yard touchdown run by Heeter and then stretched the lead to 9-0 on a safety when defensive end Jesse Correll sacked visiting quarterback Jonathan Jerozal in the end zone early in the second quarter.
Stetson cut that margin to two later in the second period on a five-yard touchdown run by Terrance Burt and a two-point PAT conversion.
"We had to figure some things out offensively and we did a better job in the second half," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris. "Defensively, we just kept them in front of us for the most part all day."
Butler drove 76 yards on its first possession of the second half, capped by Wolfe's touchdown grab at 9:48 of the third quarter. Three minutes later, following a pass interception by junior JoJo Ciancio, Heeter scored his second touchdown on a five-yard run.
Watson then answered Stetson's lone second-half touchdown with an explosive 51-yard touchdown run to put Butler on top, 30-15. Sophomore Jon Treloar, who was perfect on four PAT kicks, nailed a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs closed the scoring late in the game with their second safety of the contest.
Butler's offense rolled up 373 yards in total offense, including 252 yards after halftime.
The Bulldogs' defense supported the offensive with four take-aways and a pair of safeties. Junior safety David Burke led Butler with eight tackles, including one touchdown-saving stop, and a pass interception that led to the Bulldogs' first score. Linebacker Thad Satre and Ciancio each had a pass interception, while linebacker Sean Horan came up with a key fumble recovery.
Heeter led the offensive unit with 118 rushing yards on 27 carries, while Watson added 71 yards on eight attempts. Lancaster passed for 133 yards (15-29-1), including five completions for 50 yards to sophomore Marquese Martin-Hayes. The second-year wide receiver finished with 107 all-purpose yards.
Butler will continue its homestand with its annual Homecoming contest against Campbell on Saturday, Oct. 12. That game will start at 1 p.m.