WESTERN FLIGHT: Butler will open Pioneer
Football League play with its longest trip of the season when it
visits San Diego on Saturday, Sept. 25. The Bulldogs will
face the PFL’s California member in Torero Stadium at 6 p.m.
(PT, 9 p.m. in Indianapolis). The west coast meeting will be
the first 2010 PFL game for both squads. Butler (2-1) wrapped
up its pre-league schedule with 28-20 victory in its
home-opener against Taylor. It was Butler’s first home
game of 2010 and the first football game in the newly-renovated
Butler Bowl. The win was Butler’s eighth straight at
home, and it improved the Bulldogs’ record in home-openers
under head coach Jeff Voris to 4-1. San Diego dropped its
final pre-league game at home to UC Davis, 38-24. That
setback left the Toreros at 0-3 for the first time since
1980. Butler will be opening PFL play on the road for the
second consecutive season. The Bulldogs captured last
year’s league-opener at Morehead State, 28-21 in
Butler is 13-3 since it’s last visit to San Diego in 2008.
HOME START: Butler had a successful 2010 home debut with its eight-point victory over NAIA foe Taylor. The Bulldogs, who trailed 7-0 after one quarter, scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to gain control of the game and then held off a comeback attempt by the visiting Trojans in the second half. Butler rolled up 466 yards in total offense, including a season-high 298 passing yards, and 22 first downs in the win. The victory boosted the Bulldogs to 16-9 at home under head coach Jeff Voris.
Butler has scored more points in the second quarter this year than the other three periods combined.
ON TARGET: Junior quarterback Andrew Huck missed on five of his first six pass attempts against Taylor. But he shook off the slow start and torched the Trojans’ defense by connecting on 28 of his final 32 pass attempts! He found wide receiver Eddie McHale with a 46-yard scoring strike in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs the lead for good, and then he added a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Watkins. Huck completed 29 of 38 passes on the afternoon with no interceptions for 288 yards. The 29 completions were the second-most in his Butler career, while the 288 yards were his third-highest single game total.
SCORING COLUMN: Senior tailback Scott Gray scored his first 2010 touchdown on a one-yard run against Taylor. It was the 23rd rushing touchdown of his Butler career and his 24th touchdown overall. Gray, who led the Pioneer Football League in scoring as a freshman, needs 17 points to catch Tim Witmer (1989-92) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.
PLAYMAKER: Sophomore Jordan Ridley, led Butler’s defensive effort against Taylor with a game-high 11 tackles. It was the second straight week that the Butler linebacker recorded 10 or more tackles. Ridley was credited with four solo tackles and seven assists against the Trojans, and he assisted on one of Butler’s five tackles for loss. He also recorded his first pass breakup of the season in the win.
Jordan Ridley is tied for second in the PFL in tackles per game (11.0).
QB ASSAULT: Butler’s league-opener at San Diego will feature two of the league’s active leaders in quarterback sacks. Butler defensive end Grant Hunter is the PFL’s active leader with 24.5 sacks, while San Diego’s Mario Kurn stands fourth with 11 career QB sacks. Kurn currently leads the league with seven sacks in three games, while Hunter is tied for second with three. Hunter recorded a pair of quarterback sacks in Butler’s home victory over Taylor.
RECEIVING LINE: Butler quarterbacks Andrew Huck and Matt Kobli targeted eight different receivers in the Bulldogs’ home-opener. Juniors Jordan Koopman and Zach Watkins led the way with nine receptions apiece, while senior Eddie McHale grabbed five passes. Koopman finished with 95 receiving yards, Watkins added 89 and McHale had 66. Butler’s 30 pass completions in the game were a 2010 PFL team high.
Jordan Koopman (7.7) ranks second and Zach Watkins (5.7) stands third in the PFL in receptions per game.
FIELD POSITION: Sophomore Michael Wilson averaged 40.8 yards on five punts against Taylor, and he was particularly effective at keeping visitors pinned in their own “red zone.” Wilson had one touchback and dropped four punts inside the Taylor 20-yard line. A year ago, Wilson led the PFL with 29 punts inside the 20, and he’s the current league-leader with six I-20 punts.
•Junior quarterback Andrew Huck made his 15th consecutive
start for the Bulldogs against Taylor. Huck has either passed for
or run for a touchdown in all but one of his starts.
•Freshman Trae Heeter returned three kickoffs for 67 yards against Taylor. Heeter ranks fifth in the PFL in kickoff return average (22.8).
•Junior wide receiver Jordan Koopman leads the PFL in receiving yards with 258 (86.0) after three games.
•Junior wide receiver Zach Watkins has moved into fifth place on Butler’s all-time receptions list with 123 career catches. He trails Kyle Conner (1997-2000) in fourth place on the all-time list by a single reception. Watkins is tied for first in the Pioneer Football League in active career receptions.
•Zach Watkins is 147 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 topped the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yards with his 46-yard touchdown grab against Taylor. McHale has 88 career receptions for 1,021 career yards.
•Quarterback Andrew Huck has moved into 10th place on Butler’s all-time passing list with 3,112 career passing yards. He trails Dick Reed, 1966-69, in ninth place by 58 yards.
•Tailback Scott Gray, who rushed for 12 yards on four carries against Youngstown State, needs 180 rushing yards to catch Kevin McDevitt (1,889, 1973-76) in the No. 10 position on Butler’s all-time rushing list.
•Senior offensive lineman and team captain Donnie Gilmore was helped off the field after sustaining an injury in the Taylor game, and he won’t be available for the game in San Diego. Gilmore had made 37 consecutive starts for the Bulldogs.
•Junior linebacker Andrew Cottrell, who missed Butler’s first three games with injury, is back in uniform this week. Cottrell finished fifth on the squad in tackles last season.
•Butler leads the PFL in rushing offense (186.3) after three games. The Bulldogs stand second in total offense (304.7).