Bulldogs Begin League Play At Home Against Drake
`DOG DAYS: Butler will be looking to snap a couple of streaks when it begins Pioneer Football League play at home against Drake on Saturday, Oct. 4. The contest between the two PFL teams that share the same nickname is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) at the Butler Bowl. Butler (2-1), coming off an impressive 41-15 non-conference victory at Missouri S & T, is seeking to end a nine-game PFL losing skid and a three-game home field slide. Butler's last PFL victory came against Valparaiso in 2006, and the team's last home win came against Missouri-Rolla in the fourth game of last season. Coach Jeff Voris' squad has already snapped a five-game road losing streak this season with victories at Albion and Missouri S & T. Butler dropped its 2008 home-opener to Franklin, 31-28, and then had to cancel its second home game against Hanover because of severe weather damage that forced the shutdown of the Hanover campus. Drake (2-2) began PFL play at home last weekend with a 43-17 setback to unbeaten and league-leading San Diego. The Drake game will start a stretch of eight consecutive PFL tests for Butler.
Drake was picked fifth; Butler seventh (tie) in the 2008 PFL Coaches' Poll.
HIGH-POWERED: The Bulldogs rolled up a season-high 440 yards in total offense, including a season-best 233 rushing yards in their road win at Missouri S & T. The 41 points that Butler scored in the victory also were a season-high. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 13-0 lead on touchdowns by junior Ricky Trujillo and redshirt-freshman Stuart Harvey and never looked back. Missouri S & T trailed by 10 points at halftime, 13-3, and the margin remained at double-digits for the rest of the contest. The victory was Butler's first at MST's Allgood-Bailey Stadium and first in Missouri since 1999.
PFL REWARD: Sophomore quarterback Matt Kobli was named Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Butler's victory at Missouri S & T. The sophomore signal caller passed for 207 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards and a third touchdown to spark Butler's road win. He completed 21 of 28 pass attempts, with no interceptions, and tossed scoring aerials of seven yards to wide receiver Stuart Harvey and 32 yards to wide receiver Eddie McHale. Kobli, who guided the Bulldogs on a 99-yard scoring drive on their first possession of the game, closed out Butler's scoring with a career-long 46-yard touchdown run in the final period. The Butler quarterback averaged 14.5 yards per carry on eight rushing attempts, while compiling a career-high rushing total.
Matt Kobli's 116 rushing yards at Missouri S & T are the seventh-most by an NCAA Division I FCS quarterback this season.
LEAD DOG: Butler quarterback Matt Kobli continues to lead the Pioneer Football League in total offense. He's averaging 299.3 yards in total offense per game through three contests this season.
RETURN ADDRESS: Butler used two key pass interceptions to help stifle a potent Missouri S & T offense. Senior Ryan Schmidtz turned in the first big play with a pass theft at the Butler 25-yard line and a 63-yard interception return early in the second quarter. The career-long return for Schmidtz set the stage for Butler's second touchdown in the game and gave the Bulldogs a 13-0 lead. Then in the fourth quarter, sophomore Tadd Dombart picked off Miners' quarterback Jason Schleuter at the Butler three-yard line and returned it 35 yards to the Butler 38. The Bulldogs used that turnover to spark at 62-yard scoring drive that put the game out of reach at 41-15 with just under three minutes remaining.
Butler leads the PFL in "Red Zone Defense" (64.3%).
BLOCK PARTY: Butler rolled up over 400 yards in total offense for the second consecutive game and at the center of that offensive push has been Butler's offensive line. Senior Rob Noel, junior Brian Crable and sophomores Ryan Secrist, Mike Staniewicz and Donny Gilmore started together in eight Butler games last year, and the five have started all three games this year. They've helped the Bulldogs climb to second in the PFL in scoring (29.7 ppg), rushing offense (150.0 ypg), passing offense (248.3 ypg) and total offense (398.3 ypg) through the first month of play! Butler's offensive line has allowed just two quarterback sacks in three games this season.
PLAY TERMINATOR: Senior linebacker Mike Bennett led Butler's defense in Missouri with a team-high nine tackles. He had five solo tackles and four assists, and he added one pass deflection. It was the second straight game that Bennett has led or shared the lead in tackles for the Bulldogs, and the nine stops were one shy of his career-high set against Franklin earlier this season. He enters this week's action just four tackles shy of 200 for his Butler career.
Mike Bennett is tied for second in the PFL in tackles (9.0 pg).
•Sophomore quarterback Matt Kobli ranks second in the league in passing (248.3 ypg) and in passing efficiency (148.1). He stands fifth in the circuit in rushing (51.0 ypg).
•Matt Kobli posted the fifth-highest single game rushing total in the PFL this season with 116 yards at Missouri S & T. It's the highest rushing total by a league quarterback in 2008.
•Matt Kobli is the only player in the PFL to own a 100-yard rushing game and a 300-yard passing game this season.
•Junior tailback Ricky Trujillo scored his first collegiate touchdown on a nine-yard run to give Butler an early 6-0 lead at Missouri S & T. He later scored his second career touchdown on a one-yard run.
•Junior Dan Bohrer stands second in the PFL in receiving yards (85.0 ypg), and he's tied for second in receptions (6.0 pg). Bohrer had six catches for 67 yards in Butler's win at Missouri S & T.
•Senior placekicker Jordan Quiroz, who hit five of six PAT kick attempts at Missouri S & T, is five points shy of the No. 11 spot on Butler's all-time scoring list. He enters this week's action with 138 career points.
•Sophomore Rob Blevins has taken over the PFL lead in punting with a 40.4 average. Blevins owns the league's fourth-longest punt this year with his 57-yarder against Franklin in Butler's last home game.
•Sophomore Tadd Dombart recorded Butler's first blocked kick this season, when he blocked a Missouri S & T PAT attempt in the fourth quarter. Dombart had a blocked field goal last for the Bulldogs last season.
•Tadd Dombart continues to lead the PFL in punt return average (22.2).
•Butler redshirt-freshmen Stuart Harvey and Ryan Hitchcock each scored his first collegiate touchdown at Missouri S & T. Harvey caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Kobli in the second quarter, while Hitchcock had a one-yard touchdown run in the third period.
•Butler's 2007 leading rusher/scorer Scott Gray has not
played in the Bulldogs' first three games because of injury, and
the sophomore back could be sidelined for four more weeks. Gray led
the PFL in scoring with 15 touchdowns last season.