Butler Hosts Taylor In Home-Opener

BOWL BOUND:  Butler will end two weeks on the road when it hosts Taylor on Saturday, Sept. 18.  The Bulldogs’ home-opener is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) at the Butler Bowl.  For just the second time in two seasons, the Bulldogs will be looking to rebound from a setback.  Butler, which opened the season with a victory at Albion on Sept. 4, dropped a 31-7 decision at Youngstown State last weekend (Sept. 11).  The loss to the full-scholarship Penguins ended Butler’s string of five consecutive non-league wins and the team’s overall three-game winning streak, dating back to last season.  A year ago, the Bulldogs suffered their lone setback at Jacksonville, 36-7, and then rebounded with a 20-17 victory at home over Drake to wrap up a co-championship in the Pioneer Football League.  The game against Taylor will be the first of five home contests for the Bulldogs in 2010 and will be Butler’s final tune-up before the start of PFL play on Sept. 25.           

Butler is 3-1 in home-openers under head coach Jeff Voris.

EXTREME MAKEOVER:  Butler will unveil the newly-renovated Butler Bowl at this weekend’s game against Taylor.  The home of the Bulldogs received a complete face-lift this summer with full length of the field grandstand seating added on the west side, new visitor’s seating on the east side and a new brick pressbox structure that can accommodate up to 100 people.  The new pressbox features a VIP hospitality room, home and visitor radio booths, private booths for home and visiting coaches and a greatly expanded room for media and game operations.  The top level includes a video booth and observation deck.  Permanent seating at the Butler Bowl, including 250 new chairback seats, has expanded to 5,647.  The project, which began on April 18, was made possible by gifts to the Bulldog Club and the ButlerRising capital campaign.

The Butler Bowl was originally built in 1928 with 36,000 seats.    

STEPPING UP:  Butler’s lone contest against a full-scholarship, NCAA Division I FCS program this season ended with a loss, but not necessarily a setback.  The Bulldogs trailed just 17-7 at halftime against Youngstown State and remained within 10 points until three-and-a-half minutes remained in the third quarter.  That’s when the Penguins unleashed an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown to extend the lead to 17 points.  The host squad added an eight-play, 80-yard drive in the final period to close out the scoring.  The Bulldogs had their own long scoring drive in the game, marching 81 yards in eight plays for a second quarter touchdown.  Butler finished the game with 16 first downs (to 23 for Youngstown State) and 283 yards in total offense (to 377 for the Penguins).  The Bulldogs had an advantage in possession time, 30:39-29:21.

TRIPLE THREAT:  Junior quarterback Andrew Huck has displayed substantial passing and running talents during his time with the Bulldogs.  At Youngstown State, the Butler signal caller also demonstrated his receiving ability!  Huck shifted to wide receiver for a play in the second quarter and back-up quarterback Matt Kobli moved in under center.  The two hooked up on a 41-yard pass that gave Butler a first down at the Youngstown State four-yard line and eventually led to Butler’s lone touchdown in the game!  It was Huck’s first collegiate pass reception and the longest pass play for the Bulldogs this season.  Huck finished with 148 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and 23 rushing yards in the game.

Andrew Huck finished second in the PFL in total offense (243.4) in 2009.

HIT MAN:  Sophomore Jordan Ridley, in just his second game as a starter, racked up the highest total for tackles by a Butler play in more than half a decade with 16 stops against Youngstown State.  The Butler linebacker was credited with four solo tackles and 12 assists against the Penguins.  He shared one of Butler’s two tackles for loss in the contest.  The last time a Butler player had more tackles in a game was in 2004, when defensive back Chris Haynes compiled 20 tackles against St. Francis (Ind.).

Jordan Ridley ranks fourth in the PFL in tackles per game (11.0).

MEMORABLE CATCH:  Junior Jeff Larsen came up with his first career touchdown reception in Butler’s game at Youngstown State, and it came in front of the largest crowd to see the Bulldogs play in the past 160 games!  Larsen caught a three-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Huck to cut Youngstown State’s lead to 14-7 midway through the second quarter and briefly unsettle the near-capacity crowd of 18,025.  The last time the Bulldogs played in front of a larger audience was in 1994, when 20,237 fans showed up to watch Butler play UAB at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Junior quarterback Andrew Huck made his 14th consecutive start for the Bulldogs at Youngstown State and had one touchdown pass.  Huck has either passed for or run for a touchdown in all but one of his starts.

•Junior Logan Sullivan, making his first 2010 start in place of injured strong safety Matt Foor, recorded a career-high 10 tackles at Youngstown State.

•Freshman Trae Heeter returned six kickoffs for 153 yards, including a career-long 30-yard return, at Youngstown State.  Heeter ranks fourth in the PFL in kickoff return average (23.8).

•Senior quarterback Matt Kobli led the Bulldogs in rushing at Youngstown State with 46 yards on eight attempts.

•Junior wide receiver Zach Watkins, who had five catches for 25 yards at Youngstown State, has moved into eighth place on Butler’s all-time receptions list with 114 career catches.  Tom Redmond (117, 1970-72) and Paul Page (117, 1983-86) currently share the No. 6 spot on Butler’s all-time list.  Watkins is the Pioneer Football League active career leader in receptions.   

•Zach Watkins is 236 yards shy of Tom Wallace (1,556, 1979-82) in the No. 10 spot on Butler’s all-time list for pass receiving yards.

•Senior Eddie McHale needs 45 receiving yards to reach 1,000 yards for his career.

•Quarterback Matt Kobli has moved into 10th place on Butler’s all-time passing list with 3,024 career passing yards.  He trails Dick Reed, 1966-69, in ninth place by 146 yards.

•Tailback Scott Gray, who rushed for 12 yards on four carries against Youngstown State, needs 268 rushing yards to catch Kevin McDevitt (1,889, 1973-76) in the No. 10 position on Butler’s all-time rushing list.  Gray is 23 points behind Tim Witmer (161, 1989-92) on Butler’s all-time scoring list.

•Senior offensive lineman Donnie Gilmore made his 36th consecutive start in Butler’s game at Youngstown State.

•The 59-yard run by redshirt freshman David Thomas against Albion remains the longest rush by a player in the PFL this season.

•Butler leads the PFL in total offense (401.0) after two games.