Butler Grizzlies football never trails in 34-7 win over Highland

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette

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Butler's Tevin Petrie (middle) dives into the end zone over Highland's Michael Reddin Jr. (20) in the first quarter of Butler's win on Saturday, May 1.

EL DORADO, Kansas—Kevontae McDonald ran for two touchdowns and Tevin Petrie added in two of his own as the Butler Grizzlies picked up their first home win of the season with the 34-7 win over Highland on Saturday night.

It was Butler's first home game in almost a month. They've been on the road for two of the last three weeks, with one of those weeks being a bye week.

The win puts Butler at 2-3 on the season and 1-1 at home. It's also the eighth straight win for Butler over the Scotties.

"People forget we're a young team and we're still figuring it out," sophomore offensive linemen Colten Cable said. "I thought tonight we came together as a team. We can still finish the season on a strong note."

After coming off the tough loss on the game's final play to Coffeyville, Highland was the right recipe for Butler's confidence as they head into the back stretch of the season. The Grizzlies forced a bobbled punt on Highland's opening possession and Kevontae McDonald made them pay on Butler's first play from scrimmage. It was a 5-yard touchdown run by McDonald to put the Grizzlies on the board.

Petrie then went to work on the next two drives. 

After Butler had their drive extended by a roughing the kicker penalty, Butler drove down the field in seven plays, capped by a 7-yard touchdown run by Petrie. 

The sophomore from Norton, Kansas would strike again on the next possession. This time, churning through a host of Scottie defenders trying to bring him down. He took one into the end zone with him on his 10-yard run. 

"All of that is our offensive line," Petrie said. "Nothing happens without them. The hard work paid off."

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The Grizzlies who had struggled to score in the first quarter came out guns blazing against Highland. They had scored a combined 14 points in the first quarter of the previous games. Those all came against Coffeyville last week.

"We've started to click and that's the biggest difference for us," Petrie said. "Coach always says we got to feed off each other and when one of us does well, the other starts doing well. So, I think that's what we found tonight."

It took until a week 5 win to figure that out but when you find it out, it can make things a lot easier for everyone involved. 

"We still have a lot to do on the field," Petrie said. "I think we're going to be better next week and be better the week after that."

"We're going to finish off strong."

Nick Davenport would find Eddie Lewis for the 35-yard touchdown pass after Highland had marched down the field and turned it over on downs for the second time. Highland tried to run a pitch sweep play on fourth down, but the Grizzlies shut it down. They would then travel two plays for the score. 

Butler led 28-0 at halftime.

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Petrie finished with 43 yards on six carries for two touchdowns.

With no Jordan Kempf, it was McDonald was scheduled to carry the bulk of the reps. He came through big when the Grizzlies needed him. He had a 69-yard run in the middle of the fourth quarter that iced the game for Butler.

"They were telling me I was going to get the carries and I had to impress," McDonald said. "I'm used to this. I love it."

He finished with 180 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. It's the most for a single game rusher since Brock Sturges had 225 yards last season against Coffeyville. 

In all, Butler ran for 236 yards on the night and scored four of the five touchdowns. 

"I think it was our mentality," Cable said. "Our last drive of the last game, we really pounded the ball. This game we wanted to start it off how we finished and that's kind of our mentality was coming into this game."

While Butler continued their two-quarterback system, it was Davenport who had the better day as he went 4 of 7 for 83 yards and a touchdown. Gavin Screws was 2 of 10 for 61 yards and two interceptions.

Butler's run defense had been their Achilles' heel all season long, allowing over 300 yards per game coming into the game. They held Highland to only 25 yards on 25 carries. 

Nickendre Stiger once again was solid in the secondary, coming up with two big time interceptions to kill the momentum of the Scotties. The freshman from Wichita East has three interceptions in the last two games.

Butler forced three turnovers, the two interceptions by Stiger and one by Shareal Taylor.

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The win is the nice confidence in the sails of a team that is banged up and faced a juggernaut of a schedule. They will host Arkansas Baptist (1-3) on Saturday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.

The Buffaloes have been through the ringer as well. They have losses to Garden City, Iowa Western and Hutchinson by a combined 156-14.

"We just need to continue to pick each other up," McDonald said. "We got to come back next week and work even harder than we did this week."

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.