Quarterback Jeff Pechan's 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Millio in overtime lifted visiting Dayton to a 28-21 victory over Butler in a Pioneer Football League showdown at the Butler Bowl on Saturday. The win kept the 9-1 Flyers unbeaten in league play (6-0), while Butler slipped to 6-3 on the year and 4-2 in the PFL.
Pechan's scoring pass and a solid defensive stand in the first overtime period stopped a strong comeback bid by the Bulldogs. Butler quarterback Matt Kobli was sacked for a nine-yard loss on the first play in the overtime period, and the Bulldogs managed to gain just five yards on the next three plays to end the game.
Kobli engineered Butler's comeback with a big second-half performance. He passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns after intermission, and he led the Bulldogs on a 55-yard scoring drive in the final two and a half minutes to tie the game. Tailback Dionte Wiggins scored on a six-yard run with 0:42 left to knot the game at 21-21.
The Bulldogs trailed 7-0 at halftime, and it could have been 14-0 except for a key defensive play in the closing seconds. Dayton had a second and goal situation at the Butler two-year line when safety Spencer Summerville stripped the ball from running back Joe Gulick and Butler's Derek Guggenberger fell on it at the 10-yard line.
Butler tied the game three minutes into the second half on a five-yard Kobli to Dan Bohrer touchdown pass. The play capped a 32-yard drive that started when linebacker Mike Bennett jarred the ball loose from Pechan and Butler defensive end Grant Hunter fell on it at the Dayton 32-yard line.
Pechan put the Flyers back on top two minutes later on a 35-yard touchdown run, following a pass interception and 17-yard return by Joe Ries. And the Flyers went up 21-7 on Pechan's 18-yard touchdown pass to Justin Watkins eight seconds into the fourth quarter.
But the rest of the final period belonged to the Bulldogs. Kobli cut the margin to seven on a 70-yard drive that consisted of two passes to Bohrer and a facemask penalty. Kobli hit the Butler wide receiver with a 59-yard strike on the first play of the drive and Dayton was penalized on the play, giving Butler a first down at the Dayton five-yard line. The Butler quarterback then found Bohrer on a fade pattern to the corner of the end zone.
The Bulldogs then appeared to tie the game two minutes later when defensive back Tadd Dombart gathered a punt from Dayton's Rick Glavine at the Butler 45-yard line and returned it 55 yards to the Dayton end zone. But offsetting penalties nullified the play, and Dombart fumbled on the ensuing kick.
Butler stopped Dayton on two possessions, before Kobli sparked the final drive to tie the game.
Kobli finished the game with 297 passing yards, hitting on 24 of 39 passes with two interceptions. Bohrer wound up with nine pass receptions for 139 yards, while freshman Zach Watkins added five catches for 100 yards.
Linebacker Derek Guggenberger led a strong Butler defensive effort with 12 tackles and one fumble recovery. Defensive end Grant Hunter, the PFL leader in quarterback sacks, notched four sacks, eight total tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The Bulldogs, who had just 68 total yards in the first half, finished with 335 yards in total offense.
The game was the final home contest for 13 Butler seniors - Mike Bennett, Jared Branyon, Nick Clarkson, Derek Day, Chase Donner, Luke Johnson, Mark Kwiatkowski, Rob Noel, Eric Notestine, Robbie Person, Jordan Quiroz, Ryan Schmidtz and Alex White. The 13 were honored prior to the game.
Butler will close out the season with back-to-back road games, beginning at San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 15.