Clutch play by the defensive unit and two long scoring drives sparked host Butler to a 21-15 victory over Drake in a Pioneer Football League game at the Butler Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 4. The win snapped Butler's nine-game PFL losing streak and lifted the host squad to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in PFL action.
Drake (2-3, 0-2 PFL) entered the contest with a five-game winning streak against Butler, including two straight wins in the Butler Bowl. The visitors rolled up 412 yards in total offense, including 232 through the air, but could manage just one third-quarter touchdown and three field goals.
"Our defense really held the rope for three quarters today," said Butler head coach Jeff Voris after the game. "We came up with big defensive plays when we needed them and kept them in check until our offense got going."
One of Butler's biggest defensive plays was turned in by sophomore Rob Blevins, who picked off a Ben Ostermann pass at the Drake 39-yard line in the second quarter and returned it for a touchdown. The defensive score gave Butler a 14-6 halftime lead.
Butler's other two touchdowns followed long drives. The host Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a six-yard Matt Kobli to Dan Bohrer pass, capping a 91-yard drive in eight plays. It was the team-high fifth touchdown catch of the season for Bohrer. Butler's final touchdown followed a 12-play, 80-yard drive late in the third quarter that redshirt-freshman Ryan Hitchcock finished with a 15-yard scoring run.
Drake reached the Butler "red zone" five times in the game, but managed just three field goals by Logan Rees and a nine-yard touchdown run by Ostermann. Rees hit from 25 yards and 23 yards in the second quarter and from 20 yards in the final period. He also missed a 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. Ostermann's touchdown run capped a nine-play, 85-yard drive early in the third quarter.
Junior linebacker Derek Guggenberger led all players in the game with a career-high 12 tackles, while sophomore Tadd Dombart added eight. Blevins, who also handled Butler's punting duties and averaged 37 yards on six kicks, chipped in with seven stops.
Kobli led the Bulldogs on offense with 50 rushing yards on 11 carries and 117 passing yards on 12 completions in 22 attempts. Bohrer finished with four catches for 41 yards.
The win was Butler's first in the PFL since a 32-10 victory over Valparaiso in 2006.
"We felt that to take the next step, we had to start competing with the teams in our league," stated Voris. "Today, we just kept battling for the entire game. Now we have to take that fight on the road."
Butler will face consecutive PFL road contests, beginning with a trip to Campbell on Saturday, Oct. 11. Campbell is the newest member of the PFL and is competing in its first season of collegiate football.