Bulldogs Make First Division I Playoff Appearance

Quarterback Matt Lancaster (Photo by Brent Smith)

2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship
BUTLER (9-3) vs. TENNESSEE STATE (9-3)
Saturday, November 30, 1 p.m. (ET)
Butler Bowl - Indianapolis, Ind.
ESPN3

Game Notes

PLAYOFF TIME:  Butler will make school and conference history when it takes the field at the Butler Bowl against Tennessee State in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship.  The game against the Tigers from the Ohio Valley Conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Nov. 30, and will be telecast on ESPN3.  The Bulldogs are the first team in school history and the first team from the Pioneer Football League to advance to the Division I football playoffs.  Butler earned that honor by sharing the 2013 PFL championship with Marist and then being selected to represent the conference through the league's tie-breaker system.  The two teams remained tied through each of the PFL's tie-breaker steps until the final rankings tie-breaker, which uses the seven rankings/ratings of the College Sporting News' Gridiron Power Index and the NCAA's Simple Rating System (SRS).  The Bulldogs prevailed in five of the ranking systems to earn the PFL's first automatic bid to the Division I football playoffs.  Butler will be playing a postseason football game for the fifth time in school history.  The Bulldogs competed in the NCAA Division II Playoffs in 1983, 1988 and 1991, before moving to the NCAA Division I in 1993.  The team's only Division I postseason game came in 2009, when the Bulldogs won the PFL title and faced Northeast Conference winner Central Connecticut State in the Gridiron Classic, a playoff game between the two leagues.                                        

Butler won its only previous Division I postseason football game in 2009.

TITLE RUN:  Butler closed out its second consecutive Pioneer Football League championship and its third league title in five years with a 58-27 victory at Morehead State in the final regular season game.  The win was Butler's third straight and seventh in the team's last eight outings.  The Bulldogs, playing 12 regular season games for the first time, matched the second-highest win total in school history with a final 9-3 record.  The team also tied the school record for PFL wins with a 7-1 mark.  Head coach Jeff Voris guided the Bulldogs to a school record 11-1 mark in 2009, and he also led Butler to 7-1 PFL records in 2009 and 2012.

The 2013 Bulldogs are the seventh Butler team to win nine games in a season.

CHAMPIONSHIP EFFORT:  Butler left nothing to chance in closing out its second consecutive Pioneer Football League title in the final regular season game at Morehead State.  The Bulldogs jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first six minutes of that game and stretched that margin to 34-6 by halftime.  The host Eagles did make a run early in the third period, but the Bulldogs scored 24 of the game's final 31 points to seal the outcome.  Butler rolled up 639 yards in total offense and racked up 32 first downs in the win.  It was the second consecutive game that the Bulldogs topped 600 yards in total offense.  

Butler set a school-record with 5,699 yards in total offense in 2013.   

PFL HONOR:  Senior Trae Heeter was named Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Butler's title-clinching win at Morehead State.  Heeter rolled up 319 all-pupose yards and scored five touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 28-point win.  He scored two touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game to give Butler an early lead, and he added three more TDs before the final buzzer sounded.  The 30 points matched the second-highest single game scoring total in Butler history.  The former Lawrence North High School running back wound up rushing for 180 yards and four touchdowns, and he added 139 yards and another TD on five pass receptions.  The 319 all-purpose yards were the seventh-most posted in the PFL this season.  It was the second time this season that Heeter earned the league's weekly honor.

HOT FINISH:  Butler didn't lead the PFL in scoring offense, but no team was more potent than the Bulldogs over the final two weeks of the season.  In the final two regular season games, Butler rolled up nearly 1,400 yards in total offense and racked up 130 points!  The Bulldogs set a school record with 717 yards in total offense in a 72-12 victory over Valparaiso.  One week later, Butler piled up 639 total offense yards and 58 points at Morehead State.

Butler scored at least 30 points in eight of 12 games this season.

BUILDING PERMIT:  Jeff Voris assumed the position as Butler's head coach in 2006, taking over a team that was coming off an 0-11 season.  He improved Butler's win total in each of his first four seasons at the helm, capping that run with an 11-1 record and Butler's first conference championship in 15 years in 2009.  Voris has added two more conference titles since 2009, and he's guided the Bulldogs to a 17-6 record over the past two seasons.  The Butler coach, now completing his eighth season with the Bulldogs, already owns Butler's only postseason football victory (a 28-23 win over Central Connecticut State in the 2009 Gridiron Classic), and he's the first coach to lead the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division I football playoffs.

RUSH ORDER:  Trae Heeter wound up leading the PFL in rushing for the second consecutive season.  The Butler back, who topped the 1,000-yard mark in rushing for the second straight year, finished the regular season with 1,311 rushing yards, an average of 109.2 yards per game.  Heeter rushed for 100 or more yards in seven of Butler's 12 games, including a season-high 227 yards in Butler's PFL opener at Jacksonville.  His 1,311 yards rank as the seventh-highest single season total in Butler history.  Heeter led the PFL in rushing a year ago with 1,103 yards, an average of 100.3 yards per game.  His 3,265 career rushing yards rank as the fourth-highest total ever at Butler.

Trae Heeter is the fourth player in Butler history to rush for 3,000 career yards.

AIR QUALITY:  Senior quarterback Matt Lancaster has only played two seasons with the Bulldogs after transferring from Illinois State, but he'll finish his career as one of Butler's all-time passing leaders.  In 22 career games at Butler, the West Lafayette, Ind., native has thrown for 5,347 yards and 40 touchdowns.  He ranks fourth on Butler's all-time list for passing yards, and he holds both the No. 2 and No. 3 spots on Butler's single season passing list.  Lancaster has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his last 10 starts and in 21 of 22 career games at Butler.  The Butler quarterback also ranks second on the team in rushing with 678 yards on 117 carries.

Matt Lancaster set a Butler single season record for total offense (3,317) this year.  

CLOSING ACT:  Wide receiver Brendan Shannon is putting a strong finish to an outstanding career at Butler.  The senior from Lombard, Ill., is riding four consecutive 100-yard receiving performances, including 102 yards on six catches in the Bulldogs' title-clinching win at Morehead State.  He caught at least five passes in each of his last nine games, and he topped the 100-yard mark in receiving yards in seven of those nine contests.  His 978 receiving yards this season ranks as the fourth-highest single season total in Butler football history, and he stands fifth on Butler's all-time passing list with 1,964 career receiving yards.  Shannon is third all-time at Butler with 161 career pass receptions.

Brendan Shannon leads the PFL in pass receptions/game (7.1).      

STEAL WILL:  Butler ranks seventh nationally with 30 takeaways this season.  The Bulldogs' plus-0.9 turnover margin ranks 10th in the NCAA Division I FCS.  Butler led the PFL in both categories.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Matt Lancaster is 16-6 as a starting quarterback at Butler.  He's been the starting quarterback for two of Butler's four PFL championship seasons.

•Matt Lancaster ranks second in the PFL in total offense (302.0), and he's tied for third in the league in touchdowns scored (12).

•Matt Lancaster ranks fifth in the PFL in passing efficiency (142.5) and he's sixth in the league passing average (239.9).

•Matt Lancaster posted the third-highest single game passing total in Butler history with 395 yards against Dartmouth.  He set school records for completions (42) and attempts (68) in that game.

•Matt Lancaster threw for four touchdowns in a game twice this season and both times all four TDs came in the first half.  He did it in Butler victories over Wittenberg and Valparaiso.

•Matt Lancaster passed for over 300 yards in each of Butler's final two regular season games.  He's passed for 300 yards in four career games at Butler.

•Running back Trae Heeter stands fourth on Butler's all-time scoring list with 198 career points. Leroy Thompson (1953-56) is third with 202 points.

•Trae Heeter is seventh on Butler's single season scoring list with 98 points this season.  He's bidding to become the fifth player in Butler football history to score 100 points in a season.

•Trae Heeter ranks 15th in the NCAA Division I FCS in rushing yards per game (109.2).

•Trae Heeter ranks second in the PFL in scoring (8.0).

•Trae Heeter ranks second in the PFL in all-purpose yards (143.4).

•Trae Heeter owns the top scoring performance in the PFL this season with five touchdowns against Morehead State.

•Trae Heeter has the second-best rushing performance in the PFL this season with 227 yards against Jacksonville.

•Trae Heeter led the PFL this season with seven 100-yard rushing performances.

•Trae Heeter was No. 1 in the PFL stats for conference games only in rushing, scoring, touchdowns and all-purpose yards.

•Wide receiver Brendan Shannon ranks 8th in the NCAA Division I FCS in receptions per game (7.1).

•Brendan Shannon ranks second in the PFL in receiving yards (97.8).

•Brendan Shannon ranks 11th in Division I in receiving yards per game.

•Brendan Shannon shared the PFL lead with seven 100-yard receiving performances in 2013.

•Brendan Shannon is tied with Dan Bohrer (2008) for fourth place on Butler's list for single season receptions (71).  Tom Redmond (1972) is third with 73 catches, while Zach Watkins holds the first (80, 2011) and second (78, 2009) spots.

•Wide receiver Tom Judge has caught a touchdown pass, thrown a touchdown pass, had a rushing attempt, returned a punt and punted the football this season.

•Senior Sean Grady ranks third in the PFL in pass intereptions (4).

•Sean Grady stands sixth in the PFL in passes defended (0.92/game).

•Linebacker Zack Sedivy is tied for fourth in the PFL in fumbles recovered (0.18).  Teammates Paul Yanow and David Burke are tied for eighth (0.17).

•Placekicker Jon Treloar, perfect on nine field goal attempts this season, is one of five players tied for the top spot nationally in field goal percentage.  

•Jon Treloar has connected on 54 of 58 PAT kick attempts and ranks sixth in the PFL in PAT Kicking Percentage (93.1%).  He also stands fourth in the league in kick scoring (6.8).

•Jon Treloar set a Butler single season record with 54 successful PAT kicks this season.

•Jon Treloar set a Butler single game record with nine PATs against Valparaiso.

•Butler's offensive line was recognized by Beyond Sports Network as the national Offensive Line of the Week for the unit's performance against Valparaiso.

•Butler leads the PFL in fewest quarterback sacks allowed (0.92).

•Butler leads the PFL in both Red Zone Offense (92.5%) and Red Zone Defense (68.3%).

•Butler leads the PFL in first downs (293).