October 18, 2008

Bulldogs Overpower Valparaiso, 48-21, For Fourth Straight Win

History didn't repeat itself and Butler rolled to a 48-21 victory over host Valparaiso in a Pioneer Football League game at Brown Field on Saturday, Oct. 18. Quarterback Matt Kobli passed for 222 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a fifth score to lead the visiting Bulldogs to their fourth consecutive win and their first 3-0 start in the PFL.

Kobli engineered another impressive offensive showing for the Bulldogs, who picked up their fourth road victory of the season and their fifth win in six starts. The five wins are the most by Butler since 2001. The Bulldogs scored more than 40 points for the third time in the last four games and rolled up more than 400 yards for the fourth time in six outings!

The last Butler team to win its first four road games of the season was the 1991 club, which finished with a 9-2 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs!

Valparaiso (2-4, 1-2 PFL) started quickly, scoring just 21 seconds into the game! Junior John Popper returned the opening kickoff 59 yards and tailback Ross Wiemer broke loose for a 29-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game. But the Bulldogs answered just over four minutes later with a three-yard Kobli to tight end Luke Johnson touchdown pass and the scoring gates were open.

The two teams added 42 more points in the first half! The Crusaders took a 14-7 lead on Wiemer's eight-yard run in the first quarter, and Butler answered with a 54-yard Kobli to wide receiver Eddie McHale touchdown strike. The Bulldogs then took their first lead on a two-yard touchdown run by tailback Ryan Hitchcock early in the second period, but Valparaiso answered with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Warren Arnold to Sean McCarty to make it 21-21.

Kobli, who completed 21 of 27 passes in the game, put the Bulldogs in front for good with 1:44 remaining in the second period with a 22-yard scoring strike to Jordan Koopman. The go-ahead touchdown capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive.

Valparaiso nearly answered the Butler score, driving to the Butler 17-yard line in the closing seconds of the first half, but sophomore linebacker Derek Bradford shut the door with a pass interception and a school-record 89-yard touchdown return on the final play of the half. The theft eclipsed the previous school mark of 85 yards, set by Chuck Orban against Anderson in 1987, and gave Butler a 35-21 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs, who lost a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter at Valparaiso last year, left nothing to chance in the second half. Kobli scored on a nine-yard run late in the third quarter and then added a 17-yard touchdown pass to McHale early in the final period to give the Bulldogs a 27-point lead. Butler's defense held the Crusaders scoreless over the final 36:25 of the contest!

Kobli racked up over 300 yards in total offense for the second straight week and for the fourth time this season. He led both teams in rushing with 105 yards on just 11 carries, his second career 100-yard rushing performance. Hitchcock added 72 rushing yards on 13 attempts. McHale led nine Butler pass receivers with his first career 100-yard performance. He finished with 100 yards on four receptions.

Juniors Spencer Summerville and Derek Guggenberger paced Butler's defense, which limited Valparaiso to 256 total yards, with six tackles apiece. Bradford added three tackles, a fumble recovery and the record-setting pass interception.

The Bulldogs, who have played four of their first six games on the road, return to Indianapolis for their next three contests, beginning with a Homecoming tilt against Morehead State on Saturday (Oct. 25). That game is slated for 1 p.m. in the Butler Bowl.