Second Half Rally Powers Butler Over Morehead State, 31-21
Quarterback Matt Kobli passed for two fourth quarter touchdowns to help lead Butler to a 31-21 come-from-behind victory over visiting Morehead State in a Pioneer Football League game at the Butler Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 25. The win was Butler's fifth straight and lifted the league-leading Bulldogs to 6-1 on the season and 4-0 in PFL action.
Fans who left Butler's Homecoming contest after the crowning of the King and Queen at halftime missed a stirring comeback. Butler trailed by 18 points at halftime, 21-3, and the Bulldogs were out-gained in total offense, 286-152 in the first 30 minutes. Morehead State wide receiver Nick Feldman had 147 all-purpose yards, including a 37-yard touchdown run and an 83-yard touchdown reception! The Eagles (3-5, 1-3 PFL) also picked up a six-yard scoring run from halfback Cory Jackson.
"We knew it was going to be tough going on offense, because (the Eagles) are so good on defense," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris. "It really was a tale of two halves. Our defense played four quarters and our offense showed up after halftime."
It was the defense that ignited Butler in the third quarter. With Morehead State mounting a drive at midfield, cornerback Jacob Fritz intercepted a pass from quarterback Evan Sawyer and threaded his way through the Eagles for a 39-yard touchdown return. His score and the extra point by Jordan Quiroz, who kicked a 36-yard field goal in the first half, cut Morehead State's lead to 21-10.
"That first score got us going," noted Voris. "After that, we knew we had a ballgame. It picked up the entire team."
The Bulldogs shaved the lead further on the final play of the third quarter when sophomore Tadd Dombart received a punt at the Butler 25-yard line and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown return. It was his first collegiate punt return for a touchdown!
Kobli then gave the Bulldogs the lead for the first time with a 13-yard scoring pass to junior Dan Bohrer, capping a seven-play, 79-yard drive with 8:38 remaining in the game. The touchdown catch was the seventh of the season for Bohrer.
Butler struck again one minute later. Freshman Thorn Murphy blocked a punt attempt by Morehead's Mason Webb, and on the first play from scrimmage, Kobli found sophomore Eddie McHale with a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Butler's defense, sparked by junior Spencer Summerville, held Morehead State to just 90 total yards in the second half. Summerville finished with a career-high 11 tackles, including one quarterback sack for a loss of 13 yards. As a team, The Bulldogs had four quarterback sacks in the game.
Kobli, who leads the PFL in total offense, wound up hitting on 25 of 40 pass attempts for 259 yards. He also had 22 rushing yards on 13 carries. Freshman Zach Watkins finished with four receptions for 75 yards, while Bohrer added four catches for 58 yards. Freshman Jordan Koopman had four receptions for 48 yards.
The victory assured Butler of its first winning season since 1997 and moved the Bulldogs into a tie with Dayton for first place in the PFL.