Bulldogs Rally For Thrilling Homecoming Victory

Bulldogs Rally For Thrilling Homecoming Victory
Junior Matt Lancaster (photo by Zach Bolinger)
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INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Quarterback Matt Lancaster tossed three touchdown passes in the final nine minutes of the game, and Butler rallied from a 35-17 deficit to capture a 39-35 Homecoming victory over Morehead State on Saturday (Oct. 20).  The thrilling win at the Butler Bowl kept the Bulldogs unbeaten in the Pioneer Football League.

Lancaster, who had nearly 400 yards in total offense in the game, hit junior wide receiver Brendan Shannon with an 11-yard scoring aerial with 8:44 left in the game and then tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Derek O'Connor with just 3:49 remaining.  His final pass and the game-winner was a 17-yard scoring strike to Shannon with 1:22 left on the clock.

Butler (6-2, 5-0 PFL) held Morehead State on its final possession and celebrated a stunning come-from-behind victory in front of 4,037 fans.

"We're thankful they give you 60 minutes to play," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris after the win.  "There's no question we needed it all.  I'm proud of the way we kept playing.  We never stopped believing in each other or that we could get it done, and we kept playing."

The Bulldogs looked like they might run away with the contest in the early minutes of the first quarter.  On the first play from scrimmage, Lancaster hit Shannon with a 65-yard pass over the middle.  As the Butler wide receiver was heading for the end zone, Morehead State's Michael Jackson stripped the ball from behind.

In the scamble for the loose ball, Shannon scooped it up and scored from the two-yard line.  Jon Treloar's extra point kick gave Butler a 7-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game.

Five minutes later, Butler drove to the Morehead State six-yard line, before settling for a 25-yard Treloar field goal.

But Morehead State (1-6, 0-4 PFL) took over from there, scoring three consecutive touchdowns to grab a 21-10 lead.  Lancaster cut that margin to 21-17 at halftime with a one-yard touchdown run, but the Eagles came out in the second half and scored a pair of touchdowns to build an 18-point advantage.

Butler's comeback started with just under 11 minutes remaining.  The Bulldogs put together scoring drives of 77 yards, 59 yards and 41 yards to pull out the victory.

"We just kept fighting," said Lancaster.  "That's the thing coach tells us, our offensive coordinator tells us.  We just have to play the play.  That patience and (attitude) paid off in the end."

Lancaster attempted a school-record 53 passes and connected on 31 for a career-high 359 yards.  He added a team-high 101 rushing yards on 15 carries.  Shannon caught a career-high 14 passes for a career-best 233 yards and three touchdowns.  It was his second consecutive 100-yard receiving performance (and his first 200-yard effort).

Butler junior Trae Heeter added 100 yards on 21 rushing attempts.

Senior linebacker Jordan Ridley paced Butler's defensive, which allowed 505 yards in total offense, with a game-high 14 tackles, while junior Jayme Szafranski added 12 stops.

The win, combined with Jacksonville's loss to San Diego, left the Bulldogs in a tie with Drake for first place in the PFL standings.

Butler, riding a five-game winning streak, will visit Davidson for a PFL contest on Saturday, Oct. 27.  That game at Richardson Stadium is scheduled for a noon start.