Defense powers Butler Grizzlies football to win over Dodge City Conquistadors

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Butler's Darius Lassiter catches a deep pass from quarterback Gavin Screws in Saturday's 30-20 win over Dodge City at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado, Kansas.

EL DORADO — In what felt like an old school Butler game, it was a combination of a suffocating defense and a balanced attack on offense that saw the Grizzlies beat Dodge City 30-20 on Saturday night. 

The win improves Butler to 2-1 on the year and 2-1 in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. Dodge City drops to 0-3 on the year and 0-2 in the KJCCC.

"We aren't surprised by the score," Butler head coach Tim Schaffner said. "We knew they were a much improved team and we didn't want to take them lightly."

Despite their record, Dodge City played No. 4 Iowa Western close until late in the game and were in a tight one with No. 9 Coffeyville last week. Credit the Conquistadors, they kept the score closer than the game actually was. 

Butler jumped out 7-0 on Dodge City when MJ Cunningham intercepted a CJ Ward pass and returned it 22 yards for the game-winning score. Then, Butler blocked a punt, setting up an easy opportunity that led to a missed field goal. 

After falling behind 14-7, Adarius Thomas broke off a 34-yard run, breaking through two tackles to even the game at 14-all with 14:01 remaining in the second quarter. 

Gavin Screws found KJ Shankle for a 39-yard pass down the left sideline and it was Shankle who capped off the drive with the 6-yard touchdown run to give Butler the 21-14 lead at halftime. 

"We left points out there," Schaffner said. "We did some good things and some bad things but ultimately we won."

Screws found his only touchdown pass of the night, hitting Darius Lassiter for the 70-yard touchdown run. Lassiter, who came into the game tops in the nation for touchdown receptions, didn't have a lot of catches but made the ones he did get count. His one touchdown kept him still on top of the statistics list. 

Screws, the sophomore quarterback from Jacksonville, Florida, has taken over the first team duties after Butler lost Jake Wolff for the foreseeable future due to a knee injury. He stepped in and was efficient once again. He was 7 of 14 for 214 yards with the touchdown and an interception. 

His offensive line protected him all night, keeping his jersey clean as they allowed zero sacks on the night.

"It's like we are one," sophomore Brayden Bryant said about the O-Line's play as of late. "We can tell what each other are thinking right now." 

After allowing six sacks to Independence in the season opening loss, the offensive line has been dialed in, allowing only one sack last week to go with the zero this week. 

Dodge City answered back in the third quarter, when Tyler Curtis scored on a 2-yard dive. However, the extra point was missed, creating the 8-point lead for Butler. 

Butler would get a safety in the game's final 30 seconds to seal the win. 

"Our defense is just playing well right now and gang tackling," Dylan Jordan said. "We want to continuing winning games and that starts in practice and through the week."

Butler held Dodge City to only 241 yards of offense and had three sacks. If it wasn't for a large 70-yard pass play, it could have bee much lower. 

The offense left 17 points on the field in the first half, limiting the final score to be closer than it could have been. 

For now, Butler will get a week off before they host rival Coffeyville in a revenge game from last season. The Red Ravens beat Butler on a last play score in April. 

"It's about being 1-0 each week," Jordan said. "That's it. 1-0 this week. 1-0 the next 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.