Bulldogs Visit No. 13 Franklin
RANKING ORDER: Butler will play its second road game in three weeks and face its third consecutive nationally-ranked opponent when it visits Franklin on Saturday, Sept. 14. The game between the two central Indiana squads is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET) at Stewart "Red" Faught Stadium on the Franklin campus. Franklin moved up to No. 13 in the NCAA Division III national poll this week, following a narrow-opening week loss at defending Division III national champ Mount Union. The Grizzlies, who have won three consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference titles, trailed the top-ranked Purple Raiders, 20-0, at halftime, but stormed back to grab a 27-23 lead in the final period. Mount Union pulled out the 30-27 victory in the closing minutes. Butler celebrated its 2013 home-opener with a 49-24 victory over Wittenberg, a team ranked tenth in Division III. A week earlier, the Bulldogs opened the season with a loss at South Dakota State, the No. 6-ranked team in the NCAA Division I FCS. The Franklin contest is the third of four consecutive night games for the Bulldogs. Butler will conclude that stretch at home against Dartmouth on Saturday Sept. 21.
Butler won, 49-19, in its last visit to Franklin in 2009.
STRONG START: It took just three plays and 55 seconds for Butler to jump in front of visiting Wittenberg in the Bulldogs' home-opener. That explosive start ignited a first half onslaught that carried Butler to a 42-3 halftime lead, and gave head coach Jeff Voris a chance to play a significant portion of his squad in the final two periods. Tailback Trae Heeter ripped off a 52-yard run on the first play from scrimmage against Wittenberg, and two plays later quarterback Matt Lancaster found wide receiver Quinn Murphy with an 18-yard scoring strike. Wittenberg briefly cut the margin to 7-3 with a field goal, before the Bulldogs rattled off 35 unanswered points to grab the comfortable halftime advantage.
LEAGUE HONOR: Quarterback Matt Lancaster put on a dominant performance in the first 30 minutes against Wittenberg, and his effort earned him Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Butler senior completed 13 of 17 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns, and he added 37 rushing yards on three carries, before retiring for the evening at halftime. Lancaster opened the game with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Quinn Murphy and then tossed consecutive scoring aerials to tight end Dylan Johnson (4 yards), running back Trae Heeter (16 yards) and wide receiver Tom Judge (40 yards). The four touchdown passes matched his career-high.
Matt Lancaster has thrown 25 touchdown passes in 13 career Butler games.
CHART CLIMBING: Senior Matt Lancaster only played one half in Butler's victory over Wittenberg, but he still managed to climb into the No. 11 spot on Butler's all-time passing list. The Butler senior boosted his career passing total to 3,053 yards in 13 games (234.8 ypg). He's just 117 yards shy of Dick Reed (1966-69) in the No. 10 spot on Butler's all-time passing list.
Matt Lancaster ranked second in the PFL in total offense (3,116) in 2012.
OFFENSIVE DEFENSE: Butler's defensive unit provided a pair of scores to boost the Bulldogs' offensive effort against Wittenberg. Linebacker Bryce Barry intercepted a pass and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown to give Butler a 14-3 lead in the first period. And freshman defensive lineman Josh Willis recovered a fumble in the end zone to stretch Butler's lead to 42-3 at halftime. The two takeaways were among five turnovers forced by Butler's defense in the win. Defensive back Sean Grady recorded his sixth career pass interception (first this year) in the game, while defensive lineman Steven Sreniawski and defensive back David Burke each came up with fumble recoveries. Sreniawski returned his fumble 36 yards to the Wittenberg four-yard line.
GAINING GROUND: Senior Trae Heeter, who led the PFL in rushing a year ago, became the ninth player in Butler football history to reach 2,000 yards in career rushing during the Bulldogs' victory over Wittenberg. Heeter led both teams with 69 rushing yards on just seven carries. That boosted his career rushing total to 2,040 yards and moved him into eighth place on Butler's all-time rushing list. He trails Harry Muta (1972-75) in seventh place on the all-time list by 405 yards.
KICK START: Sophomore Jon Treloar was a perfect on seven PAT kick attempts against Wittenberg. The seven PAT's were one shy of Butler's school record, which Treloar shares with Bob Ligda (vs. St. Joseph's, 1974) and Tim Witmer (vs. St. Ambrose, 1989). The second-year Butler placekicker has connected on his first nine PAT attempts this season.
•Quarterback Matt Lancaster had a big day against Franklin a year ago. The Butler signal caller connected on 19 of 30 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, and he added 96 yards and two more touchdowns on 16 carries against the Grizzlies.
•Matt Lancaster started his 13th consecutive game for the Bulldogs in the win over Wittenberg. Butler is 9-4 with Lancaster as a starter.
•Running back Trae Heeter rushed for 86 yards on 12 attempts against Franklin last year. He also caught three passes for 38 yards in the win.
•Trae Heeter had five games with 100 or more rushing yards a year ago, including two outings with more than 200 yards!
•Tight end Dylan Johnson matched his career-high with four receptions for a career-high 79 yards against Wittenberg.
•Senior Jayme Szafranski led the Bulldogs with eight tackles against Wittenberg. Szafranski was Butler's third-leading tackler a year ago.
•Wide receiver JT Mesch scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 24-yard reception against Franklin last year.
•Senior wide receiver Brendan Shannon had eight receptions for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns against Franklin a year ago. Shannon did not play against Wittenberg because of injury, but he's expected back for the Franklin game.
•Senior Tom Judge was among the busiest Bulldogs in the win over Wittenberg. Judge averaged 45.3 yards on three punts, and he had the Bulldogs' lone punt return for five yards. The former quarterback caught three passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, and he had one rush for 16 yards.
•Sophomore running back Rico Watson scored his first collegiate rushing touchdown on a two-yard run against Wittenberg. Watson gained 54 yards on a career-high 12 carries against the Tigers.
•Reserve quarterback Wade Markley completed nine of 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown against Franklin last year. Markley came off the bench against Wittenberg and completed five of six passes.
•Butler is 17-9 in non-league games under head coach Jeff Voris.