Behind Sam Elliott, fifth-ranked Buhler gets by sixth-ranked El Dorado Wildcats

Charles Chaney Billy Watson
Butler County Times Gazette
El Dorado's Adam Cavallaro is tackled by Buhler's Cody Wisecarver in Friday's 28-20 Buhler win in Buhler, Kansas.

Sam Elliott scored two 19-yard touchdowns in the first half and added another in the second half as the fifth-ranked Buhler Crusaders picked up a homecoming win over El Dorado, 28-20. 

The win moves Buhler to 3-1 on the season, with their lone loss to Andover Central two weeks ago, a 14-7 decision. They continue their collision course with McPherson for the AVCTL-III title on Oct. 8.

Elliott was a work horse in the win, being able to spin or drag an El Dorado defender for an extra yard. He finished with 219 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns. 

It wasn't all Elliott, especially in the first half. El Dorado tried to load the box but Bradley Neill was able to get the passing game going. Neill finished the game 9 of 15 from 109 yards and a touchdown. That includes a back-breaking touchdown with two seconds remaining in the first half to put Buhler up by 15 heading into the half. 

"There were some blown blocking assignments, and Sam still gained six or seven yards," Buhler head coach Steve Warner said. "He had to make cuts at the line of scrimmage to make a defensive lineman miss, and he was still making yards. That just shows you what Sam does for us."

Buhler jumped their lead up 21-6 at the break after Neill found Matthew Eddy for his lone catch off the game for a 30-yard touchdown. Eddy has been utilized on the receiving end as well as on defense, including having a pick-six in the season opener against Goddard.

"Getting the ball into Matthew's hands is very, very important," Warner said. "He's done a great job of going and catching the ball, and he's become a great receiver for us."

Buhler running back Sam Elliott gets into the endzone in the Crusaders win over El Dorado Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 at Buhler Crusader Football Stadium.

Elliott did his part. He had 70 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Both touchdowns came right after Buhler caught El Dorado off guard with the passing game from Neill. 

"It reminds me of Barry Sanders," Warner said. "He was making his first move in the backfield where Emmitt Smith was making them five yards downfield, and Sam – it doesn't matter. You give him a hole, he's really going to gash you. If there's nothing there, he can still find yards."

Penalties were the demise of the Wildcats Chop blocks and holding calls pushed El Dorado back at the wrong times, creating third and long attempts. El Dorado finished the night 1 of 1 on third downs and had 33 fourth down attempts. 

After Buhler went up 14-0 on the two Elliott runs, Jalen Rice scored on a 10-yard run to bring the Wildcats within eight midway through the second. 

El Dorado (2-2) responded with a 14-yard run by Gannon White with 7:08 remaining in the third to bring El Dorado to within 21-12. However, it was the combination of Neill and Elliott who responded quickly. 

The Crusaders went on a 7-play drive that saw Elliott score his third touchdown as Buhler took to what felt like a commanding, 28-12 lead. 

Buhler now has won 16 consecutive games against El Dorado, dating back to the 2005 win for the Wildcats. Warner is now 16-0 all-time against El Dorado at Buhler.

Sundgren finished with 160 yards rushing for El Dorado. 138 of those yards coming in the second half, including the touchdown that pulled El Dorado within 28-20.

Elliott did it again as he churned out big run after big run after El Dorado punted. He helped Buhler go from their own 9-yard line to the end zone, icing the game. 

The Crusaders will pit their 2-0 league record on the line next week as they host Augusta on Friday night. El Dorado hosts 4A's No. 1 team, McPherson.

"I think (the last two wins) make us better," Warner said. "It's way better than winning a game by 30 or 40 points. This makes us work hard in practice. Every play matters. Down the road, it's going to help us out playing tough games."

Buhler 28, El Dorado 20

El Dorado;0;6;6;8;—20

Buhler;7;14;7;0;—28

B - Sam Elliott 19-yard TD run (Jeffrey Neill kick)

B - Elliott 19-yard TD run (Neill kick)

E - Jalen Smith 10-yard TD run (run failed)

B - Bradley Neill to Matthey Eddy for the 30-yard TD pass (Neill Kick)

E - Gannong White 14-yard TD Run (run failed)

B - Elliott 1-yard TD run (Neill kick)

E - Jaydon Sundgren 1-yard TD Run (run good)

RUSHING: El Dorado—Jaydon Sundgren 20-160; Jalen Rice 11-86; Adam Cavallaro 5-34; Barry Summers 3-27; Gannon White 9-12; Drew Veatch 6-10. Buhler—Sam Elliott 26-219; Colin Rolland 4-14; Cameron Campbell 1-minus-6; Bradley Neill 3-minus-13.

PASSING: El Dorado—Gannon White 1-3-0 37. Buhler—Bradley Neill 9-15-0 109.

RECEIVING: El Dorado—Rice 1-27. Buhler—Bo Van Bruggen 4-45; Matthew Eddy 1-30; Sam Elliott 3-22; Brock McCurdy 1-12.

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.