Bulldogs Defeat Davidson In Home Finale
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler turned a strong performance by new quarterback Wade Markley and several key defensive plays into a 17-7 Pioneer Football League victory over Davidson at the Butler Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 5. The victory on Butler's "Senior Day" lifted the Bulldogs to 5-4 on the season and 3-3 in PFL play.
Markley, getting his first collegiate start in place of injured Andrew Huck, completed 15 of 22 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. He guided the Bulldogs on back-to-back scoring drives in the second quarter and then directed a third scoring drive in the third period to lift Butler to a 17-0 lead.
"Wade Markley played a great game," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris after the win. "The thing with Wade that allows everyone to relax and feel confident is the intangible things that he brings to the game. He spends as much time as anyone studying. He spent most of the year with very few 'reps', but mentally he was into each practice."
The redshirt freshman quarterback gave Butler the lead with a six-yard touchdown pass to senior Stuart Harvey, capping a 53-yard scoring drive. The big play in the drive was a 44-yard Markley to senior Zach Watkins (left) aerial.
On the very next series, the Bulldogs drove 72 yards in 13 plays, and senior David Lang made it 10-0 with a 23-yard field goal. It was the 33rd field goal of his career, one shy of the Butler all-time record set by John Jenkins (1985-88).
Markley finished Butler's scoring with a 24-yard pass to tight end Matt Jenson less than five minutes into the third period. That touchdown finished a 60-yard drive that took nine plays.
Davidson (2-7, 0-6 PFL) moved the ball throughout and actually finished with a 379-271 advantage in total yardage. But the Bulldogs came up with timely defensive plays and forced the Wildcats into four costly turnovers.
The first Davidson turnover came in the first period when Butler's Andy Dauch hit wide receiver Chris Trinetti after a catch and forced a fumble that Paul Yanow recovered at the Butler' 13-yard line.
On the Wildcats' next possession, Butler recorded consecutive quarterback sacks by senior Jeff Poss, senior Grant Hunter and Poss again, forcing a Davidson punt. The Wildcats eventually did attempt a 40-yard field goal late in the first half, but it sailed wide of the goal post.
Butler also stopped Davidson scoring drives in the third quarter on a pass interception by sophomore Jayme Szafranski at the Butler one-yard line and in the final period on pass interceptions by Dauch at the Butler six and sophomore Phillip Powell at the Butler 10.
"The biggest thing defensively is not scoring points," noted Voris "I thought we played very well defensively. Turnovers are key because it flips the field. It took away opportunities that they had to maybe kick a field goal, because several of those turnovers were deep in our territory. I think the biggest thing is our defense kept them out of the end zone."
The Wildcats finally did get on the board on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Carkhuff to Chris Gorman with 1:51 left in the third period. But that was Davidson's lone tally of the contest.
Markley led the Bulldogs statistically, and he's now completed 20 if 28 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns in his limited Butler action. Watkins, Butler's all-time leading pass receiver, finished the game with five catches for 90 yards, while sophomore Trae Heeter led the Bulldogs on the ground with 43 yards on 12 carries.
Junior Jordan Ridley had another big day defensively with a game-high 16 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass breakup. Szafranski finished with nine stops.
Prior to the game, Butler paid tribute to 23 seniors who were playing their final game in the Butler Bowl. All but Huck, who's nursing a shoulder injury, saw action in the win.
"It was the last time out of the tunnel for guys that have put a lot of time and effort into the program," said Voris. "A lot of them came when the program was just starting to kind of get back on its feet. I feel really good for them going out with a win."
Butler will play its final two games on the road, beginning with a test against league-leading Jacksonville on Saturday, Nov. 12.