Butler Opens Home Slate Against Long-Time Foe Franklin
HOME DEBUT: Butler, coming off a successful season-opener at Albion, will make its first home appearance of 2008 when it takes on long-time foe Franklin on Saturday, Sept. 13. The non-league game at the Butler Bowl is slated for 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will be meeting Franklin for the 53rd time overall, which ties St. Joseph's for the fourth-longest Butler football series. Only Wabash, DePauw and Valparaiso have played the Bulldogs more often. But most of the current Butler and Franklin players weren't even born the last time the two squads met (1987)! Franklin, the defending champion and favorite in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, opened the 2008 season with a 42-35 victory over visiting Baldwin-Wallace. Quarterback Chad Rupp, a third team Division III All-American last year, passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns in that victory. The Bulldogs posted a season-opening win for the second straight year with a 20-6 decision at Albion. The win was Butler's fifth consecutive non-league victory.
Butler is 6-6 in the Butler Bowl under head coach Jeff Voris.
ROAD WIN: The Bulldogs scored 10 points in the second quarter to overcome an early three-point deficit and then added 10 more in the fourth period to post a 14-point win in their season-opener at Albion. Butler rolled up 352 yards in total offense, while holding the host Britons to 248 yards in the victory. The Bulldogs' defense held Albion without a touchdown and limited the Britons to just 85 rushing yards and just 10 first downs. The victory was Butler's first at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium since 1999.
AIR SUPPLY: Sophomore quarterback Matt Kobli, getting just his third collegiate start, sparked the Bulldogs at Albion with a career-high 230 passing yards and a pair of touchdown throws. Kobli completed his first 12 pass attempts against the Britons and wound up hitting on 16 of 18 (.889) passes in the first half! He finished the game with 25 completions in 32 pass attempts (.781) with no interceptions . Kobli hit sophomore Eddie McHale with an eight-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs the lead for good, and then he added a 16-yard scoring aerial to senior tight end Luke Johnson in the fourth quarter to stretch Butler's lead. The Butler quarterback finished with 243 total offense yards in the game, the second-highest single game total in the Pioneer Football League this season.
Matt Kobli has completed 61% of his passes (79-130) in his young Butler career.
RECORD START: Matt Kobli tied a school record with his first 12 completions at Albion. He matched the record for consecutive completions, set by DeWayne Ewing against Valparaiso in 2001. Kobli actually completed his first 13 passes at Albion, but one was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty.
FEELING DEFENSIVE: Juniors Derek Guggenberger and Spencer Summerville sparked Butler's strong defensive effort at Albion with nine tackles apiece. Guggenberger had four solo tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and five assists, while Summerville finished with two solos, including one tackle for loss, and seven assists for his career-high total. As a team, Butler stopped Albion behind the line of scrimmage eight times for a loss of 21 yards. The Britons entered the Butler "Red Zone" (inside the Butler 20-yard line) just twice in the game and came away with just three points. The six total points allowed by the Bulldogs were the fewest by a Butler opponent in the past 97 games.
SPREAD OFFENSE: Butler quarterback Matt Kobli connected with nine different pass receivers at Albion, three of whom were making their collegiate debut and one who hadn't caught a pass since 2005. Sophomore Eddie McHale led all receivers with seven catches for 63 yards, while fifth-year senior Alex White, who missed the last two seasons with injury, added five receptions for 42 yards. Senior Luke Johnson and junior Ricky Trujillo each had three catches, senior Dan Bohrer and redshirt freshman Ryan Hitchcock each grabbed two passes and senior Eric Notestine and redshirt freshmen Stuart Harvey and Dionte Wiggins each finished with one reception. McHale and Johnson each recorded his career touchdown catch in the victory.
RETURN ADDRESS: Sophomore Tadd Dombart has already made a career out of returning punts against Albion. The Butler defensive back had three punt returns for 77 yards in this year's game against the Britons, including a 49-yard return that led to the Bulldogs' final touchdown. A year ago, Dombart returned a punt for 54 yards against Albion and that wound up being the longest punt return of the season for the Bulldogs. It was his first collegiate football play.
Tadd Dombart leads the PFL in punt return average (25.7).
•Butler leading rusher/scorer Scott Gray did not play in the season-opener at Albion because of injury. The sophomore running back will be sidelined for six to eight weeks. Gray led the Pioneer Football League in scoring with 15 touchdowns last season.
•Senior placekicker Jordan Quiroz was perfect on two field goal attempts and two PAT kicks at Albion. His eight points in the game boosted his career scoring total to 129 points. Quiroz has connected on 23 of 36 field goal attempts (.639) during his Butler career.
•Junior running back Ricky Trujillo was given his first collegiate start at Albion, and he wound up leading the Bulldogs in rushing with 45 yards on 11 carries.
•Senior defensive end Derek Day had a pair of quarterback sacks in Butler's opener at Albion, matching his entire total of 2007. Day led the Bulldogs with 2.5 tackles for loss (-15 yards) against the Britons.
•Senior linebacker Mike Bennett had eight tackles against the Britons, one shy of his career-high set against Morehead State (2007), Albion (2006) and Valparaiso (2005).
•Senior Eric Notestine caught a 32-yard pass from quarterback Matt Kobli in the fourth quarter to help set up the Bulldogs' final field goal. It was the longest career reception for the Butler tight end.
•Sophomore Eddie McHale had a career-high seven pass receptions at Albion, two shy of his career total coming into this season. His 63 receiving yards against the Britons were 10 more than his career total.
•Redshirt freshmen Ryan Hitchcock and Dionte Wiggins saw their first collegiate action in Butler's backfield at Albion. Hitchcock gained 37 yards on nine carries, while Wiggins added 27 yards on 12 attempts.
•Sophomore Rob Blevins had an impressive debut as Butler's punter against Albion, Blevins had a 51-yard punt on his first collegiate kick, and he wound up averaging 40.8 yards on five punts. He leads the PFL in punting heading into the third week.