Top-ranked Hutchinson hands Butler worst home loss since 1995
The loss gives Butler their first home loss since November 2018.
EL DORADO, Kansas—Ethel Merman had a famous song in 1946 and on the first ever spring home game it felt as if it still applied 75 years later. Except this time, instead of Merman singing a duet, it was the Hutchinson Blue Dragons singing the famous song, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
The nation’s top-ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons showed they were preseason No. 1 as they responded to any fight Butler showed on Saturday night inside BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
For every Butler punch, the Blue Dragons had a nasty haymaker waiting. It's why Hutchinson beat rival Butler 41-10 in a contest that was never felt as close as the score indicated.
“I was super pleased with how they responded to adverse situations,” Hutch first year Head Coach Drew Dallas said. “We’ve been dealing with that for the last 15 months with COVID, so them responding and continuing to respond showed they are not going to back down when things happen.”
Hutchinson didn’t back down as they intercepted Butler three times, including a final nail in the coffin late in the fourth quarter.
Butler struggled to move the ball and Hutchinson always had a response for anything Butler tried to do. When Butler kicked a field goal to put them on the scoreboard, it was Jalik Thomas setting a Hutchinson school record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
When Hutchinson was trying to milk the clock and go into halftime, it was Anwar Lewis running all over the field to make it 28-3.
“That was… incredible,” Butler Head Coach Tim Schaffner said. “I’ve never seen anything like that, ever.
“I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.”
Any chance of Butler making a legitimate comeback was dashed with that run.
The Grizzlies once again will have to regroup, facing their first 0-2 start since 1995 when Butler finished 1-8, losing their first four games of the season.
Butler now has lost three straight games to Hutchinson for the first time since 1994-95.
It’s the worst lost at home since 1995, when Garden City beat Butler 58-7 at the old Blackmore Stadium. It is the worst loss in BG Products Veterans Sports Complex history. The next closest one was 14-point loss to Hutch in 2018.
“There’s are some positives to take away,” Schaffner said. “For us, it’s a consistency thing we’re not getting the consistency we need.”
Despite raucous crowd for the first time since 2019, the Grizzlies found themselves behind the sticks on the first drive and the wind did them no favors as Hutchinson started at the Butler 36-yard line to start their first drive.
“Every time we step on the field, we know that if we play to the best of our abilities, we’ll have a chance to win,” Dallas said.
Ty Edwards would make Butler pay to cap off a 5-play drive that saw him drag two Grizzly defenders into the end zone for the game’s first score.
Hutchinson would do it again after making Butler go three-and-out once again. This time, it was a 6-yard dive and only eight minutes into the game, Butler saw their deficit drop to 14-0 for the second straight week.
“I’m not sure [why the slow starts],” Schaffner said. “Last week, Nick [Davenport] looked like a million dollars, to the point we wondered if we maybe should’ve have started him even though he had been out and then tonight he struggled.
The Grizzlies had opportunities. However, miscues hurt Butler. Nick Davenport threw into a crowd of Blue Dragon defenders and turned it over on a third-and-goal. Butler would then allow a kickoff return for 100 yards from Thomas that countered Butler’s only points of the first felt demoralizing.
After squandering another opportunity and having to punt, Butler saw the Blue Dragons drive 99 yards in seven plays to push Hutch into a 28-3 halftime lead.
It snowballed and it felt as if Butler was rolling downhill with no way to stop the ball.
Two big pass plays to Eddie Lewis and a large return by Jordan Kempf gave the Grizzlies some momentum plays but consistently failed to capitalize on them.
It wasn’t until Gavin Screws hit a stretched-out Darrius Lassiter for the 15-yard touchdown pass, did it feel as if Butler finally did something right that went their way.
Much like in the first half, when something would go right, it was Hutch there to shut it down. Butler found a stop on the ensuing possession but the drive would end on an interception in the end zone with 3:20 remaining in the third.
“Ultimately, it falls back on the coaches,” Schaffner said “It’s either they weren’t prepared right or we don’t have the right guys, but it ultimately falls back on us.”
Hutchinson put the icing on top of the cake when Edwards scored on a 1-yard dive with 10:23 remaining.
While the Grizzlies threw did air the ball out for almost 300 yards, but it was the rushing game that seemed to struggle. They finished with only 86 yards rushing as a team.
While they were able to throw for 278 yards, Hutchinson held Butler to only 44.7 percent passing.
The Grizzlies continued to be without Adarius Thomas, who’s expected to miss most if not all of the spring season, caused the Grizzlies to be really a one-back team.
“Jordan and him [Thomas] would have been a really good 1-2 punch for us,” Schaffner said. “It sucks but that’s a part of the game, you know? You have to be able to overcome it and that’s not something we have been able to do.”
For now, it’s focusing on what can be done right and trying to fix the fixables. Gone are the national championship aspirations. Gone is the chance at 16th Jayhawk crown. They have a chance to salvage the season.
“Dodge is absolutely going to be a challenge,” Schaffner said as the Grizzlies play Dodge City on Sunday, April 11. “When I get that figured out, I’ll let you know.”