Butler Wins Gridiron Classic

Quarterback Andrew Huck scored three touchdowns to lead host Butler to a 28-23 victory over Central Connecticut State in the fourth Girdiron Classic played at the Butler Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 5.  It was the first post-season victory for the Bulldogs and capped a school-record 11-1 campaign.

Huck, named MVP of the game matching the champions of the Pioneer Football League and the Northeast Conference, finished with 223 yards in total offense.  He rushed for 41 yards on nine carries, and he completed 15 of 21 passes for 182 additional yards.  His touchdown runs, all in the second half, covered 10 yards, 19 yards and seven yards.

The final touchdown by the Butler quarterback gave the Bulldogs a 28-17 lead with 4:07 and provided a needed cushion against the explosive Blue Devils.  Central Connecticut State (9-3) answered with a two-yard touchdown run by Eric Richardson, his second of the game, with 1:55 left, and the visitors had the ball in the final minute, until a pass interception by cornerback Jack McKenna with 0:29 left sealed Butler’s 11th victory.

When Huck took a knee for the final play of the game, the Bulldogs were able to celebrate their first trip to a post-season game since 1991 and the first-ever post-season game played in the Butler Bowl.

Butler’s sophomore signal caller accepted the MVP trophy, but he was quick to spread the credit.

“The offensive line picked up the strong blitz to my left side, and I was able to escape out of the pocket,” said Huck of his scrambling scoring runs.  “I got some key downfield blocks, and I was able to find a crease and get to the end zone.”

Head coach Jeff Voris echoed Huck’s assessment.

“Everything with us starts with the offensive line,” noted the Butler coach.  “They study hard and they understood the blitz schemes and did a great job of picking them up.”

Central Connecticut State (9-3) struck first in the post-season game with an impressive 99-yard drive in 19 plays that consumed 10:18 of the first quarter.  Quarterback Aubrey Norris mixed the pass and run on the march, picking up four crucial third down plays and one fourth down attempt.  Richardson scored from one-yard out to give the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead.

But Huck brought the Bulldogs right back and led the team on a 64-yard drive that ended with a two-yard scoring run by tailback Scott Gray to tie the game.  The visitors took their final lead on a 32-yard field goal by Joe Izzo early in the third quarter, but Huck again answered with his first touchdown to put Butler back on top for good.

Gray finished the game with 88 rushing yards on 15 carries, while senior wide receiver Dan Bohrer led Butler’s receivers with seven catches for 69 yards.  His first reception made him Butler’s all-time leader in receiving yards.  He finished his Butler career with school-records for receptions (192), receiving yards (2,241) and touchdown catches (22).

Safety Mark Giacomantonio led a balanced defensive effort with 10 tackles, while linebacker Nick Caldicott and safety Spencer Summerville each added eight.

Norris finished with 17 completions in 26 attempts with the one interception for 202 yards, while running back James Mallory gained 109 yards on 21 carries and scored one touchdown for the Blue Devils.

Butler became the third PFL team to win the Gridiron Classic in the four years that the game has been held.