Butler Begins PFL Play Against Campbell

Butler Begins PFL Play Against Campbell
Junior Trae Heeter (Photo by Zach Bolinger)

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LEAGUE KICKOFF:  Butler will begin its quest for the 2012 Pioneer Football League title at home when it hosts Campbell on Saturday, Sept. 22.  The league-opener for both teams will start at noon (ET) at the Butler Bowl.  Both teams finished the pre-conference schedule with a 1-2 record.  Campbell posted a 10-0 victory over Virginia-Wise in the second week of the season, while dropping games to Shorter, 31-20, and at No. 6 Old Dominion, 70-14.  The Camels, who have taken the last two meetings with Butler, have not won a PFL opener in four seasons in the league.  Butler, which won its home-opener against Franklin two weeks ago, fell at Dartmouth, 35-7, in its last outing.  The game in Hanover, N.H., was Butler's first against a team from the Ivy League.  The Bulldogs will continue their current two-game homestand with a league game against Dayton on Sept. 29.          

Butler is looking to stop a two-game skid in PFL openers.

ON THE AIR:  Beginning this season, Butler football webcasts for all 11 games will be available at www.butlersports.com.  Play-by-play for the broadcasts will be handled by Butler graduates Brandon Gaudin '06 and Mark Minner '12, while former Butler head coach Ken LaRose will serve as the broadcast analyst.
GREEN REIGN:  Dartmouth used a balanced offensive attack and a resilient defense to spoil Butler's first bid against a team from the Ivy League.  The Big Green jumped in front just 14 seconds into the game when Miles Gay returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.  And the host squad answered a missed Butler field goal with a nine-play, 76-yard scoring drive on its first possession to stretch the margin to 14-0.  Butler did cut the lead in half in the second quarter when wide receiver Derek O'Connor caught a five-yard scoring pass from quarterback Matt Lancaster to cap a 15-play, 86-yard drive.  But the Bulldogs missed several other scoring opportunities, including two from inside the Dartmouth 10-yard line.  The Big Green led 21-7 at halftime and then added a pair of second half touchdowns.
BALL MOVEMENT:  Butler out-gained Dartmouth, 416-358, in total offense, and the Bulldogs ran nine more plays than their Ivy League foe.  It was the second consecutive game that the Bulldogs topped 400 total yards.  The Big Green limited Butler to 69 rushing yards, but the Bulldogs countered with 347 passing yards.  Butler continues to lead the PFL in total offense with a 483.3 average after three weeks.  The Bulldogs are second in the league in rushing offense (135.3 ypg) and third in the circuit in passing offense (303.0 ypg).

Butler leads the PFL in total first downs with 69 in three games.
RECEIVING LINE:  Sophomore Derek O'Connor made the most of his first visit to the Ivy League.  The Butler wide receiver scored his first collegiate touchdown and turned in a career-best day for both receptions and receiving yards.  O'Connor, who's been named to the PFL Academic Honor Roll for two straight years, grabbed a career-high nine passes at Dartmouth for a career-best 164 yards.  He scored Butler's lone touchdown against the Big Green on a five-yard pass from junior Matt Lancaster in the second quarter.  O'Connor's 164 receiving yards tied the 12th-highest single game total in Butler history.

Derek O'Connor owns the highest single game receiving total in the PFL this year.

ACCURATE ARM:  Junior quarterback Matt Lancaster matched his career-high with 35 pass attempts at Dartmouth, and he completed a career-best 25 throws with no interceptions for 267 yards.  The Butler signal caller, who transferred from Illinois State, has completed 60% of his passes through three games, and he's only been intercepted once, the lowest total among the PFL's top nine quarterbacks.  He currently has a streak of 92 consecutive passes without an interception.  Lancaster ranks third in the PFL in passing efficiency (136.2), and he's sixth in the league in passing average (244.7 ypg).

Matt Lancaster ranks second in the PFL in total offense (295.7 ypg).

PRESSURE POINT:  Butler had a season-high three quarterback sacks at Dartmouth, including one by defensive end Ian Luscombe for a 19-yard loss.  Junior Jeremy Stephens picked up his second quarterback sack of the season, and junior Phillip Powell recorded his first.  The Bulldogs have five quarterback sacks on the year and are tied for fifth in the PFL.  At the same time, Butler leads the PFL in fewest quarterback sacks allowed (2).

THIRD DOWN:  Butler leads the PFL in third down conversions, despite managing just four (of 15) conversions at Dartmouth.  The Bulldogs have converted 24 of 50 (48%) third downs on the season. 


•Junior Trae Heeter, who led the Bulldogs in rushing a year ago, has taken over the Pioneer Football League lead in rushing.  Heeter picked up 61 yards on seven carries at Dartmouth, and he's averaging 65.3 yards on the year.

•Trae Heeter ranks third in the PFL in all-purpose yards (95.0 ypg).

•Trae Heeter was injured in the first quarter of Butler's game at Campbell last year, and he managed just two carries for eight yards against the Camels.  

•Quarterback Matt Lancaster ranks fourth in the PFL in rushing (51.0 ypg).  Lancaster was limited to 11 yards on 12 carries at Dartmouth.

•Matt Lancaster is tied for the lead in the PFL in touchdowns (3).

•Junior Jay Brummel had a career-high eight tackles at Dartmouth, including four solo stops.  He shared the team-lead against the Big Green with teammate Jeremy Stephens.

•Senior Jordan Ridley, who had seven tackles at Dartmouth, is tied for eighth in tackles in the PFL (8.7).  Ridley has topped the PFL in tackles in each of the past two seasons.

•Jordan Ridley was named PFL Co-Defensive Player of the Week after recording 19 tackles at Campbell last year.  Ridley had five solo tackles and 14 assists in the game.  The 19 total tackles were the second-most in the PFL in 2011, trailing Ridley's 20-tackle performance against Valparaiso.

•Wide receiver Derek O'Connor ranks second in the PFL in receiving yards (79.0 ypg).  Teammate Brendan Shannon stands third (68.7 ypg).  Shannon is sixth in the league in receptions (5.3), while O'Connor is tied with teammate JT Mesch for seventh (5.0) in the circuit.

•Brendan Shannon had a career-high 10 catches for 87 yards at Campbell last year.  He also returned six punts for 87 yards to finish with a career-best 174 all-purpose yards.

•Sophomore JT Mesch had a career-high eight receptions for 67 yards at Dartmouth.  

•Senior offensive lineman Matt Storey has started 25 consecutive games for the Bulldogs.