The Butler Grizzlies forced five turnovers and scored 26 first half points en route to a 36-17 thumping of No. 6 Snow College.
“I thought we came out and controlled the tempo and that started with the defense,” Butler head coach Tim Schaffner said.
The shutdown of highly touted quarterback Braxton Kerr was obvious. The Grizzlies hit him time after time. He threw a career high four interceptions. His previous high was two. He was 19-of-42 for 186 yards, for one touchdown and 4 interceptions.
“We just wanted to make sure they knew were coming,” defensive back Alfahiym Walcott said.
Butler did do that. Snow didn’t cross midfield until their final drive of the second half, which led to their only three points of the half. The defense teed off on the Snow offensive line, which looked overmatched and overpowered for a majority of the game.
The Grizzlies found the end zone with 5:35 to go in the first quarter when Brock Sturges powered his way into the end zone, making it the score, 7-0 Butler. That capped off an 11-play drive that took five minutes. On the ensuing possession, Butler’s Grahm Roberts dashed through the heart of the defense, finding a nice crease all the way to the end zone. In a matter of minutes, Butler increased their lead to 13-0.
After forcing another three-andout, Steven Frank hit Romello Kimbrough for the 14-yard touchdown reception. The Grizzlies were rolling up 20-0.
Once again, a three-and-out led to another Butler touchdown. On a free play due to a defensive offsides delayed flag, Frank found George Qualls in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Qualls, the sophomore wide receiver fought it away from the Badger defender, putting Butler up 26-0 with 8:42 to go int he half.
“Our offense wouldn’t be able to do anything without our O-line,” Qualls said. “It all starts and ends with them.
Butler would lead 26-3 at the break and once again special teams would rear its ugly head. Two missed extra points and another missed field goal has the Grizzlies with a ton of missed opportunities. Butler may have dropped 50 on Snow if the special teams could fill their roles.
Butler had over 400 yards of offense being quite balanced. They had 218 yards in the air and 195 yards rushing. Frank finished 15-of-22 for 218 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Qualls led Butler in receiving with three receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. Roberts, the sophomore, had 102 yards rushing on 16 carries and a touchdown. Sturges had 89 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns.
The defense was overall dominant for three quarters. Walcott was one of four Butler players with interceptions. They also sacked Kerr twice and hurried him all game long. While special teams is a glaring issue for the Grizzlies, defense is becoming a cornerstone to their dominance.
“We’re just doing what our coaches ask of us,” Walcott said. “If we do that, I think we’re going to be alright.”
Butler will host No. 16 Highland on Saturday, Sept. 7 at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. It’ll be the third straight home game for the Grizzlies.
“They’re just like their coach,” Schaffner said. “They may not be flashy but they are sound fundamentally and they are always prepared. So, we’ll have to be prepared.”
There were really good things in this game and really bad things. Butler is on the verge of putting together something special. Butler now has two wins over ranked opponents to start the season, making their case for No. 1 with the shake up of the NJCAA rankings.
“We know what we have,” Schaffner said. “It’s starting to show. Now we just have to keep it up.”
Charles Chaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChuckChaneyBCTG