The Butler Grizzlies score 29 unanswered points in road win over defending national champions

Butler now leads the all-time head-to-head series 49-48-1

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette

HUTCHINSON, Kansas — It's been a little under six months since Butler was embarrassed by Hutchinson CC at home and they've been waiting for this one. 

The wait paid off as the Butler Grizzlies went into Gowans Stadium and came out with the 43-23 win that saw Butler take the lead right before halftime and never relent throughout the entire second half. 

"We're marauders," Butler head coach Tim Schaffner said. "We knew this was going to be their ring ceremony and we wanted to come in and ruin it. 

"And we did."

Butler (1-1 overall, 1-1 KJCCC) scored 29 unanswered points, spanning three quarters before Hutchinson finally scored with no time remaining. It was an impressive performance that rivaled the Butler wins of the past. 

"I told the guys this is what we have done in the past," Schaffner said. "This is what we should be doing because we're Butler."

The last six months haven't been the best period in Butler football, with it feeling every bounce of the football, every bit of luck going against Butler. It appeared in Week 1, when Independence is catching deflected balls for highlight reels, it was going to be much of the same. Instead, Butler locked in and focused on what was in front of them.

"We had a great week of practice," sophomore Nickendre Stiger said. "No one was happy with last week and we wanted to come in and show how good we can be."

Stiger was a large part of the defense that was a bend but not break type on Saturday night. Despite the yards given up (388 yards), they focused on their tackling and limited broken tackles, especially in the second quarter on. 

"Our coaches were preaching to come in and burn it down," Stiger said. "That's what we did tonight. It's our motto all year."

Stiger did his part, finishing with an interception, fumble recovery and six tackles.

Lassiter makes a difference

While the defense was doing their part, sophomore Darius Lassiter made his mark known. After tying a school record with three touchdown receptions last week, he kept it going this week by adding in two more in the win. 

He had a one-handed reception that gave Butler new life when they struggled to move the ball. Once Butler realized they had the 1-on-1 advantage, they went to it time and time again. 

"The coaches expect me to win those 1-on-1s," Lassiter said. "I have to trust the quarterback to put it there and go and get it."

He did it all night against Hutch. While he only finished with seven catches, it felt like 14. 

His 40-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter tied the game up at 14-all with 7:44 remaining as freshman Jake Wolff hit Lassiter on the deep pass. 

Stepping up for your leaders

When Wolff scrambled for a first down with 30 seconds left in the first half, he was tripped up by the down marker on the sideline bouncing off the turf. He tripped, sending him tumbling to the ground and he came up grabbing his knee. He left on a cart at halftime and would not return but his teammates rallied around him.

His back up, Gavin Screws, didn't miss a beat in his place. 

Screws came on and found Daevon Robinson on a 6-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the half, giving Butler their first lead of the night. it's a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game. 

"Coach just told me the team is behind me," Screws said on when he came into the game. "I just got behind those big guys who had a heck of a night tonight, man."

Screws came in and finished 10 of 16 for 89 yards and two touchdowns. If you were talking in terms of QBR (Quarterback rating), Screws had a QBR of 150.76. For reference, Patrick Mahomes' career QBR is 108.7.

"He's been here before," Schaffner said. "We had the confidence he could come out and step up for us."

Screws played in all but one game last year, throwing for four touchdowns and five interceptions, with two of those came in the 41-10 loss to Hutch.

"I took this summer and was hard on myself," Screws said. "It was my goal to change and be more efficient this season. I'm learning on what I did wrong last season and doing what coaches ask of me."

Wolff's status going forward is unknown as the school does not release an injury update. 

Making key plays

One thing that was different from this game compared to the games in the spring was the plays Butler didn't make to the plays they made against Hutch on Saturday night.

"You need a little luck and we didn't have that last year but we were able to make some of our own tonight," Schaffner said. 

There were multiple key plays on the night that fueled Butler's win and some weren't even of their own doing, such as the two missed field goals that would have put Hutchinson (0-2 overall, 0-2 KJCCC) ahead on numerous occasions. Instead, Butler was given fuel to respond after the missed 46-yard attempts.

There was Stiger's interception in Hutch territory on third down that set up a Butler score. Then, Dylan Jordan having a close out tackle that ended a drive to make up for missing earlier in the game.

"That play was huge [talking about Jordan's play]," Schaffner said. "He missed a chance to stop them in the first half but came back with a big play in the second half."

Hutch had a third-and-long but found Anwar Lewis on a pass in the flat and it appeared he was going to race to a first down but Jordan closed down, wrapped up and slung Lewis behind the sticks.  

Butler used the momentum from the defensive stop and scored on the next drive.

That's where another key moment came as Screws had trouble gathering the snap and sophomore Kevontae McDonald was able to pick up the ball, racing to the end zone. 

Then, there was a goal line stand in the fourth quarter. 

As Hutch marched to get back in the game, Lewis for Hutch tried to spin and get in the end zone. Instead, he was met by a wall of Grizzlies where the ball was knocked loose and Stiger came up with the recovery at the 1-yard line, essentially ending any hope Hutch had at a comeback.

Building on this win

Butler wants to build upon this and get back to the wins of Butler past. 

"it starts on Monday," Screws said. "it's a 24-hour rule. Then, it's back to work.

Butler will take this momentum onto Dodge City at home on Saturday night at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. The Grizzlies have won four straight over the Conquistadors but what Butler is trying to do is larger than only Dodge City.

"We want to get going and look like it was when they were 6-time national champions," Lassiter said.

Many around the NJCAA may have doubted this win but Butler is building on something and Saturday could be the start of a return to Butler lore and hopefully using Dodge City will be another step to that and to the first-ever NJCAA playoff appearance.

"We always believe despite what it may appear," Schaffner said. "We're not totally surprised by that [this outcome] but there are some really good football players, who now have become a team."

Butler 43, No. 11 Hutchinson 23

Butler—0;21;9;13;—43

Hutch—7;10;0;6;—23

Scoring

1Q 11:10 Hutch—Anwar Lewis 2-yard TD run (C.J. Moya kick)

2Q 13:47 Butler—Darius Lassiter 1-yard TD reception from Jake Wolff (Carson Arndt kick)

2Q 8:49 Hutch—Jaheim Simmons 1-yard TD run (Moya kick)

2Q 7:44 Butler—Lassiter 40-yard TD reception from Wolff (Arndt kick)

2Q 3:07 Hutch—Moya 26-yard Field Goal

2Q 0:03 Butler—Daevon Robinson 6-yard TD reception from Gavin Screws (Arndt kick)

3Q 11:23 Butler— AJ King 23-yard reception from screws (Arndt kick failed)

3Q 7:37 Butler—Arndt 39-yard Field Goal

4Q 13:12 Butler—Kevontae McDonald 6-yard TD run (Arndt kick)

4Q 3:39 Butler—McDonald 26-yard TD run (Arndt kick failed)

4Q 0:00 Hutch—Mile Kitselman 11-yard TD reception from Dylan Laible (no PAT)

Statistics

RUSHING: Butler—Adarius Thomas 11-114; KJ Shankle 11-67; Kevontae McDonald 5-45-2; Jordan Kempf 5-22; Caden Cox 4-12; Jake Wolff 3-2. TOTAL 39-262. Hutch—Anwar Lewis 17-89-1; Corey McKnight 7-40; Dylan Kedzior 4-35; Tye Edwards 6-32; Jaheim Simmons 7-21-1; Caleb Burns 1-13; Dylan Liable 6-1. TOTAL 48-231

PASSING (C-A-I-TD): Butler—Jake Wolff 8-15-0-2 113; Gavin Screws 10-16-0-2 89. TOTALS 18-31-0-2 202. Hutch—Dylan Laible 13-29-1-1 157.

RECEIVING: Butler—Darius Lassiter 7-108-2; Daevon Robinson 2-38-1; AJ King 4-28-1; Trey Echols 3-21; TEAM 1-7. Hutch—Russell Wilkey 2-48; Micah Woods 3-44; Corey McKnight 2-23; Miles Kitselman 2-16-1; Anwar Lewis 2-12; Rashawn Williams 1-8; Dylan Kedzior 1-6.

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.