Nov. 6, 2004
Host Valparaiso capitalized on a pair of Butler turnovers and held on to defeat the Bulldogs, 31-26, in a Pioneer Football League North Division game at Brown Field on Saturday (Nov. 6). The win lifted Valparaiso to 4-6 on the season and gave the Crusaders sole possession of fourth place in the North Division with a 1-3 mark. Butler dropped its fifth straight game and fell to 1-9 overall and 0-4 in league play.
The Crusaders turned in three one-play scoring drives in the contest, including two that followed Butler turnovers. Quarterback Ryan Doerrffler hit Kevin Knutson with a 39-yard scoring strike one play after a pass interception by Xavier Freeman to give Valparaiso a 17-7 lead in the second quarter. And Jeff Horton rushed 36 yards for a touchdown following a pass interception by Brad Smeja in the third quarter to give the Crusaders a 31-20 advantage.
Horton gave the Crusaders the lead for good, 24-20, earlier in the third quarter with a 63-yard touchdown run, one play after Butler had taken a 20-17 advantage on a six-yard Ian Nelson to Phil Vorndran pass.
The Bulldogs once again grabbed an early edge on an 11-yard Nelson to Billy Nardini touchdown pass with 2:55 remaining in the first period. The touchdown capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive and gave Butler a 7-0 advantage.
But the Crusaders answered with 17 consecutive second quarter points to take a 10-point halftime advantage. Butler did have a chance to cut into that margin right before halftime, but Eric Neumeier missed a 30-yard field goal attempt.
Nelson did give Butler its first second half lead since the Austin Peay game on Oct. 2 with a two-yard touchdown run and the scoring pass to Vorndran early in the third quarter, but the Crusaders answered with the back-to-back, one-play drives. Nelson and Vorndran hooked up on a four-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to wrap up the scoring.
Nardini, getting the start at tailback, paced the Bulldogs with a career-high 139 rushing yards on 26 carries. He also caught four passes for 21 yards. Nelson completed 17 of 28 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. Vorndran had four catches for 45 yards and the two touchdowns. Horton led the Crusaders with 211 rushing yards on 21 carries.
Senior linebacker Jim Hart led Butler's defensive effort with 11 tackles, including one quarterback sack.
The Bulldogs will close out the 2004 campaign at home on Saturday, Nov. 13, against St. Joseph's. The game at the Butler Bowl will start at 1 p.m. (EST).