Butler Compiles Record Football Season
FIRST TEAM: It was apparent from the start that the 2013 Butler football campaign was going to be a season of firsts. The Bulldogs, playing a 12-game regular season schedule for the first time, opened the year with a first-ever trip to South Dakota, played first-time opponents South Dakota State and Stetson and hosted an Ivy League team (Dartmouth) for the first time. Butler picked up its first win at Jacksonville, which was also its first win in the state of Florida. Eventually, the defending league champion Bulldogs, finished in a tie for first in the Pioneer Football League. It was the first time that Butler captured back-to-back PFL titles. But the most consequential first came at the conclusion of the conference season, when the Bulldogs became the first team in school and PFL history to earn a berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championship. Butler finished with a 9-4 record, matching the second-highest single season win total in school history, and wrapped up a share of its second straight PFL crown by winning its final three games. It was the first time since 1997 that the Bulldogs won their final three regular season games.
Butler won consecutive football titles for the first time since 1991-92.
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 eight outings. After suffering its only PFL setback at San Diego on Oct. 26, the Bulldogs rattled off consecutive wins at Dayton, at home against Valparaiso and at Morehead State. The Bulldogs shared the PFL title with Marist, and then earned the league's first bid to the NCAA Division I Football Championship via the PFL's tie-breaker system.
The Bulldogs tied the school record for PFL wins with seven in 2013.
PLAYOFF GAME: Butler's first step into the NCAA Division I Football Championship ended with a 31-0 loss to #17 Tennessee State at the Butler Bowl. The Bulldogs, who were one of the top teams in the PFL in Red Zone Offense, advanced inside the Tennessee State 20-yard line three times, but came away empty on each. Tennessee State, ranked among the national leaders in team defense, stopped Butler on a pair of field goal attempts and on one fourth-down play inside the Red Zone. The Tigers led 17-0 at halftime and added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter.
HOT FINISH: Butler didn't lead the PFL in scoring offense, but no team was more potent than the Bulldogs in the closing 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 closed the regular season with 639 total offense yards and 58 points at Morehead State.
Butler scored at least 30 points in eight of 13 games in 2013.
RECORD ASSAULT: Butler's run to the 2013 PFL championship included an overhaul of the school's football record book. The Bulldogs broke or tied 19 Butler team and individual records during the 2013 campaign. Three of those records fell to senior quarterback Matt Lancaster, while sophomore placekicker Jon Treloar picked up a pair. Lancaster set single game marks for pass completions (42) and pass attempts (68) against Dartmouth, and he broke his own single season record for total offense (3,513). Treloar set a single game standard with nine PAT kicks against Valparaiso, as well as a single season record for PAT kicks (54). Seniors Sean Grady and Jayme Szafranski each tied the school record for career games played (45). The Bulldogs also broke or tied seven team single game records and six team season marks.
RUSH JOB: Senior Trae Heeter led the PFL in rushing for the second consecutive season and topped the 1,000-yard mark in rushing for the second straight year. The talented Butler back finished the season with 1,375 rushing yards, an average of 105.8 yards per game. Heeter rushed for 100 or more yards in seven of Butler's 13 games, including a season-high 227 yards in Butler's PFL opener at Jacksonville. His 1,375 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 3,329 career rushing yards rank as the fourth-highest total ever at Butler. He also finished with 198 career points, the fourth-highest career scoring total in Butler history.
Trae Heeter is the fourth player in Butler history to rush for 3,000 career yards.
PASSING FANCY: Senior quarterback Matt Lancaster played two seasons with the Bulldogs after transferring from Illinois State, but he finished his career as one of Butler's all-time passing leaders. In 23 career games at Butler, the West Lafayette, Ind., native threw for 5,469 yards and 40 touchdowns. He finished in fourth place 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 threw at least one touchdown pass in 21 of 23 career games at Butler. The Butler quarterback also rushed for 1,160 yards in his two seasons, becoming the first Butler signal caller since Kent Stewart (1957-59) to rush for over 1,000 career yards.
Butler was 8-2 this season in games that Matt Lancaster threw a touchdown pass.
CATCH LEADER: Wide receiver Brendan Shannon closed out his outstanding career in fifth place on Butler's all-time list for receiving yards. The senior from Lombard, Ill., finished the regular season with four consecutive 100-yard receiving performances and then led the Bulldogs against Tennessee State with five catches for 63 yards. He caught at least five passes in each of his last 10 games, and he topped the 100-yard mark in receiving yards in seven of those 10 contests. His 1,041 receiving yards in 2013 are as the second-highest single season total in Butler football history, and pushed his career receiving total to 2,027 yards. Shannon had the third-highest single season total for receptions (76) this year, and he finished third on Butler's all-time list for receptions with 166 career catches.
Brendan Shannon led the PFL in pass receptions/game (6.9) in 2013.
LEAGUE HONORS: Butler had 16 players named to the 21st Annual All-PFL Team at the conclusion of the regular season. Chosen first team All-PFL from Butler were running back Trae Heeter, wide receiver Brendan Shannon, offensive lineman Charlie Perrecone and defensive lineman Jeremy Stephens, while offensive lineman David Tiwari and defensive back Sean Grady earned second team recognition. Butler's honorable mention All-PFL players were quarterback Matt Lancaster, tight end Dylan Johnson, offensive lineman Mike Demos, defensive linemen Kyle Annis and Glen Somers, linebackers Paul Yanow and Zack Sedivy, defensive back Jayme Szafranski, placekicker Jon Treloar and return specialist Marquese Martin-Hayes. Lancaster, Heeter, Shannon, Szafranski and defensive back JoJo Ciancio also earned first team Academic All-PFL honors, while Annis was named to the second team.
•Matt Lancaster finished third in the PFL in total offense (293.2) in 2013. He was third among league quarterbacks in rushing yards (752) and fifth in passing yards (2,761).
•Trae Heeter posted the seventh-highest single season scoring total at Butler with 98 points in 2013.
•Trae Heeter ranked second in the PFL in all-purpose yards (136.8).
•Trae Heeter posted the top scoring performance in the PFL this season with five touchdowns against Morehead State.
•Trae Heeter led the PFL with seven 100-yard rushing performances in 2013.
•Brendan Shannon ranked fourth in the PFL in receiving yards per game (94.6). He tied for the league lead with seven 100-yard receiving performances.
•Jon Treloar ranked sixth in the PFL in PAT Kicking Percentage (93.1%). He finished fifth in the league in kick scoring (6.2).
•Senior Sean Grady ranked third in the PFL in pass intereptions (4) in 2013. He was tenth in passes defended (0.85/game).
•Linebacker Paul Yanow finished third in the PFL in fumbles recovered (0.23/game). Teammate Zack Sedivy tied for eighth (0.17).
•The Bulldogs led the PFL in turnover margin (+11) in 2013. Butler had 18 fumble recoveries and 15 pass interceptions.
•Butler led the PFL in fewest quarterback sacks allowed (13).
•Butler led the PFL in Red Zone Defense (67.4%). The Bulldogs were third in Red Zone Offense (87.5%).
•Butler led the PFL in first downs (23.6).