League-Leading Bulldogs Host Jacksonville On “Senior Day”
TITLE RUN: Butler, bidding for its third Pioneer Football League title, begins a crucial two-game closing stretch when it hosts Jacksonville on Saturday, Nov. 3. The key PFL test will start at noon (ET) at the Butler Bowl. Butler sits alone atop the PFL standings with a 6-0 record, one-half game ahead of Drake and a game-and-a-half ahead of both Jacksonville and San Diego. The Bulldogs can eliminate Jacksonville from title contention with a victory on Saturday. But that won't be an easy task. Jacksonville is 7-0 all-time against the Bulldogs, including a 3-0 mark in the Butler Bowl. The Dolphins (6-2, 4-1 PFL) have won five of their last six games this season, and they're coming off a bye week. Butler (7-2) won its sixth straight game with a 31-20 decision at Davidson. That win moved the Bulldogs to 6-0 in the PFL for just the second time in school history, matching Butler's 2009 PFL co-championship squad. Following the Jacksonville game, Butler will close out the season at Drake, currently 5-0 heading into a game at Dayton.
The Bulldogs are 4-0 in the Butler Bowl this season.
GAME BROADCAST: Butler football webcasts 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 football coaches Ken LaRose and Bill Lynch serve as analysts.
SENIOR TRIBUTE: Butler will honor seven seniors from this year's squad, prior to the Jacksonville game. The seven, who are facing their final game in the Butler Bowl, are Bobby McDonald (Orland Park, Ill.), Jordan Ridley (Indianapolis), Paul Sciortino (Wilmette, Ill.), Matt Storey (St, Louis, Mo.), Jace Tennant (Champaign, Ill.), David Thomas (Chicago, Ill.) and Brett Thomaston (Frankfort, Ill.). Butler's senior class has helped the Bulldogs to 27 wins, a Pioneer Football League co-championship (2009) and a Gridiron Classic title over the past four seasons. This year's group is the winningest Butler senior class since 1994.
BALANCED ATTACK: Butler rolled up nearly 500 yards in total offense and pulled away to an 11-point victory over Davidson to remain unbeaten in PFL play. The Bulldogs rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 277 yards and two more scores in the win. Butler took a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard, Jon Treloar field goal to cap the game's opening possession and then stretched that margin to 24-10 by halftime. Davidson did cut the lead to four points, 24-20, in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs answered with a seven-yard Matt Lancaster to Marquese Martin-Hayes touchdown pass midway through the final period to seal the outcome. It was the fourth straight game that Butler had over 400 yards in total offense.
RUSH ORDER: Junior Trae Heeter unleashed the biggest afternoon of his Butler career to help power the Bulldogs past Davidson. The Butler running back gained a career-high 231 yards on the ground and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to spark the win. He gave Butler the lead for good, 10-3, with a four-yard scoring run early in the second quarter, and he lifted the Bulldogs to their biggest lead of the game, 24-10, with a 78-yard touchdown run just 1:17 before halftime. It was his second 200-yard rushing performance this season, and his third straight game with 100+ yards on the ground. The 231 rushing yards rank 14th on the Bulldogs' all-time single game list and are the most by a Butler player since 1998, when Naim Sanders rushed for 244 yards against St. Francis (Pa.). Heeter also became the tenth Butler player to top 1,000 rushing yards for a season in the win at Davidson. He has 1,078 rushing yards, which ranks 13th on Butler's single season list, one yard shy of Harry Muta (1975) in 12th place.
Trae Heeter leads the PFL in rushing (119.8) and scoring (7.3).
HOME CLOSING: Senior Jordan Ridley, who will be playing his final game in the Butler Bowl, needs just five tackles to become the third player in Butler football history to record 400 career tackles. Chuck Orban (1987-90) is No. 1 on Butler's all-time list for tackles with 487, while Dave Ginn (1981-84) stands second with 468. Ridley led the Bulldogs at Davidson with 12 total tackles, the fifth time this season that he's had at least 10 tackles in a game. He led the PFL in tackles for two consecutive seasons heading into this year.
Jordan Ridley ranks fifth in the PFL in tackles (9.9).
AIR QUALITY: One week after recording a career-high 359 passing yards against Morehead State, junior Matt Lancaster posted the second-highest passing total of his career with 277 yards at Davidson. The Butler signal caller completed 16 of 31 passes, including touchdown throws of 32 yards to JT Mesch and seven yards to Marquese Martin-Hayes. Lancaster has 17 touchdown passes on the year.
•Butler leads the Pioneer Football League in total offense (465.8). The Bulldogs are second in the league in scoring offense (29.2).
•Junior running back Trae Heeter boasts a league-high 11 touchdowns.
•Trae Heeter owns the top three rushing performances in the PFL this fall with 231 yards against Davidson, 204 yards against Campbell and 159 yards against Dayton.
•Trae Heeter ranks second in the PFL in all-purpose yards (133.9).
•Quarterback Matt Lancaster ranks second in the PFL in total offense (293.8). He's third in pass efficiency (146.4) and sixth in passing average (243.9 ypg).
•Matt Lancaster leads all PFL quarterbacks and ranks ninth overall in rushing in the league (49.9).
•Junior Jeremy Stephens ranks third in the PFL in quarterback sacks (0.72).
•Junior Sean Grady, who had 10 tackles in Butler's win at Davidson, ranks 15th in the PFL in tackles (7.2).
•Sophomore wide receiver JT Mesch led the Bulldogs at Davidson with four receptions for a career-high 121 yards. It was his second career 100-yard receiving performance.
•Junior wide receiver Tom Judge was given his first collegiate start at quarterback against Jacksonville last year. He completed 17 of 25 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the game, and he added 60 yards on seven rushing attempts.
•Junior wide receiver Brendan Shannon ranks third in the PFL in receptions per game (6.0) and in receiving yards per game (82.0).
•Brendan Shannon is tied with Mike Rios of Marist for the league lead in 100-yard receiving games (3).
•Freshman Jon Treloar has hit 30 of 33 PAT kick attempts and ranks fifth in the PFL in PAT Kicking Percentage (.909).
•Freshman Marquese Martin-Hayes scored his first collegiate touchdown on a seven-yard pass from Matt Lancaster at Davidson.
•Senior offensive lineman Matt Storey has started 31 consecutive games for the Bulldogs.