Bulldogs Take Unbeaten PFL Record To New York
FIRST LOOK: Butler's season of firsts continues when the Bulldogs make their first visit to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for a Pioneer Football League game against Marist. The league test on Saturday, Oct. 13, will start at noon (ET) at Marist's Tenney Stadium. The Bulldogs, who have already played two first-time opponents, made their first visit to New Hampshire, played their first August game and had their first night game in the new Butler Bowl, will enter the Marist game in a tie for first place in the PFL. Butler improved to 3-0 in the PFL and 4-2 on the season with a convincing 56-17 victory at Valparaiso in the annual Hoosier Helmet game last weekend. The victory allowed the Bulldogs to maintain a share of the top spot in the league standings along with Jacksonville and Drake. For the second consecutive week, Butler will be facing a team coming off an open weekend. Marist (2-3, 1-1 PFL) fell at Jacksonville, 26-14, in its last outing on Sept. 29.
Butler is 3-0 in the PFL for the third time in school history, all in the past five seasons.
GAME BROADCAST: Butler football webcasts for all 11 games are available at www.butlersports.com. Play-by-play for the broadcasts is handled by Butler graduates Brandon Gaudin '06 and Mark Miner '12, while former Butler head coaches Ken LaRose and Bill Lynch serve as analysts.
HIGH POWERED: Butler retained the Hoosier Helmet for the fifth straight year behind a high-octane offense that posted a season-high 56 points. The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in the first nine minutes of the contest and stretched the margin to 35-0 before Valparaiso recorded its first points. Butler led 42-3 at halftime, and head coach Jeff Voris was able give his entire travel squad ample playing time in the second half. The 56 points were the most by the Bulldogs since 2008, when Butler defeated Campbell, 56-7, in a PFL game.
HEAT CHECK: Junior running back Trae Heeter rattled off three touchdowns before most fans had settled into their seats and gave Butler firm command of its game at Valparaiso. The former Lawrence North High School standout capitalized on a Butler fumble recovery on the first play of the game and scored on a one-yard touchdown run just 51 seconds into the contest. Less than two minutes later following a second Butler fumble recovery, he unleashed a 35-yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs on top, 14-0. Heeter capped his first quarter performance by finishing Butler's next drive with seven straight carries for 38 yards, ending with a three-yard scoring run and a 21-0 Butler lead. He finished the first half with 11 carries for 76 yards.
Trae Heeter leads the Pioneer Football League in scoring (8.0 ppg).
STANDING TALL: Junior transfer quarterback Matt Lancaster has already had several outstanding games in his young Butler career, but it would be hard to top his first half performance at Valparaiso. The Butler signal caller, who transferred from Illinois State a year ago, completed 11 of 13 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the first 30 minutes against the Crusaders. He also added 41 rushing yards on four carries. Lancaster threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tom Judge, a one-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Brendan Shannon and a 41-yard scoring aerial to wide receiver JT Mesch. He led the Bulldogs on six first half scoring drives and helped Butler to a 42-3 halftime lead, before getting a well-earned rest in the second half. It was the second time in six games that Lancaster has thrown three touchdown passes for the Bulldogs and the fourth time in six outings that he's had more than 200 passing yards. Lancaster ranks second in the PFL in total offense (266.7).
Matt Lancaster ranks second in the PFL with 10 touchdown passes.
TAKE-AWAY: Linebacker Bryce Barry forced a fumble on Valparaiso's first play of the game, and defensive back Jay Brummel recovered it at the Valparaiso four-yard line to set up the Bulldogs' first touchdown. That was the first of three fumble recoveries by the Bulldogs, and each led to a Butler score. A fumble recovery by defensive tackle Glen Somers set the stage for Butler's second touchdown, while defensive back JoJo Ciancio had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that led to Butler's final score. Defensive tackle Kyle Annis, who had a pair of quarterback sacks in the win, and defensive tackle Steve Sreniawski each recorded a forced fumble for the Bulldogs.
Butler ranks second in the PFL in turnover margin (+5).
OFFENSIVE LEAD: Butler continues to lead the PFL in total offense (450.3 yards per game). The Bulldogs also lead in rushing offense (186.5 ypg) and in scoring offense (29.3)). Butler stands second in the circuit in pass efficiency (144.7) and fourth in the league in pass offense (263.8).
•Butler's 598 yards in total offense at Valparaiso were the most by the Bulldogs since 1989, when Butler had a school-record 673 yards in a victory over St. Ambrose.
•Junior Trae Heeter conintues to lead the PFL in rushing (105.8). He owns the top two rushing performances in the PFL this fall with 204 yards against Campbell and 159 against Dayton. He also owns the the two longest rushing plays, 79 yards for a touchdown against Campbell and 78 yards for a touchdown against Dayton.
•Trae Heeter, who only played one half at Valparaiso, ranks second in the PFL in all-purpose yards (123.8 ypg).
•Trae Heeter missed last year's game against Marist with injury.
•Quarterback Matt Lancaster ranks second in the PFL in pass efficiency (149.8) and sixth in the league in passing average (219.7 ypg).
•Matt Lancaster has thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception.
•Senior Jordan Ridley currently stands eighth in the PFL in tackles (8.5). Ridley has topped the league in tackles in each of the past two seasons.
•Jordan Ridley had 12 tackles against Marist a year ago.
•Junior Jeremy Stephens is tied for fourth in the PFL in quarterback sacks with four.
•Junior wide receiver Tom Judge had a career-high four receptions for a career-best 114 yards and one touchdown at Valparaiso. Sophomore wide receiver JT Mesch added seven catches for a career-high 119 yards and a touchdown in the win.
•Senior David Thomas scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 39-yard run at Valparaiso. Freshman Rico Watson added his first career score on a 19-yard pass from Wade Markley in the win. Watson led the Bulldogs with 87 rushing yards on 10 carries.
•Quarterback Wade Markley threw his first collegiate touchdown pass in last year's game against Marist.
•Senior offensive lineman Matt Storey has started 28 consecutive games for the Bulldogs.
•Wide receiver Derek O'Connor did not play at Valparaiso because of injury.