Mistakes cost Butler Grizzlies football in loss to Coffeyville Red Ravens

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Butler quarterback Gavin Screws (purple jersey) is being tackled by Coffeyville's Allen Henry (52) in the first half of Butler's game vs. Coffeyville. The Red Ravens beat Butler 35-21 on Saturday, Oct. 2 at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado, Kansas.

EL DORADO — Self-inflicted mistakes were the demise of what could have been a glorious upset for the Butler Grizzlies on Saturday night. 

Butler finished the night with 13 penalties and three turnovers and many of those penalties came at crucial times in the 35-21 loss to ninth-ranked Coffeyville. Including a touchdown to Daevon Robinson early in the fourth quarter. It was called back on an illegal man down field. 

There were two big punt returns that were negated by penalties as well. Then, there was a fumble as a player was trying to fight for extra yards and had the ball knocked out. 

"I have to watch film on the live ball penalties but the pre-snap penalties, that's just the lack of discipline and that's just on us," Butler head coach Tim Schaffner said. 

Butler finished with 140 penalties yards on the night, including one that brought back a score. It's the most penalty yards in a game since Butler had 155 against Dodge City on Sept. 24, 2011. They had 16 penalties that night. They would have 156 yards against Dodge City again later in that season on 17 penalties. 

It wasn't as if Butler (2-2) rolled over and let the Red Ravens run away with it. They had their fight.

Butler scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to single digits when Karter Johnson fought off a defender and dragged another one with him into the end zone to bring it within 28-21 with 5:08 remaining.

It felt early on much like last season where the opposing offense would have whatever they wanted on the first two drives as Butler adjusted to their play calling. Coffeyville made Butler pay on those drives, scoring touchdowns of 18 and 19-yard scores. 

Before Butler really had more than three plays, they were trailing 14-0.

"I don't know what it has been since COVID where we don't start fast enough," Schaffner said. "It's just been 2021 that's been an issue for us."

Butler did come out of halftime and find Trey Echols on a 12-yard touchdown run to put Butler on the board to give them new life. 

“We started to execute better, we started to take advantage of what the defense gave us.” Schaffner said.

There were opportunities wasted, a fourth down that was stuffed after an AJ King big punt return put them in prime field position. Then, Gavin Screws was stripped on the first play of a drive as he was sacked, giving Coffeyville (4-0) the ball at midfield. 

For all of the mistakes made, Butler was right in this one. They saw themselves fall back 28-7 when Star Thomas, who scored the game-winning score with no time remaining last season, broke off a 54-yard touchdown but the fight and fire was there. Screws led Butler down the field for two big touchdowns in two minutes combined to bring the game within one score. 

Screws finished the game 17 of 28 for 286 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception at the end of the game.

Robinson would lead Butler with 157 yards receiving on seven receptions and a touchdown.

However, it would be Thomas that would break off a run once again to put the nail into the coffin. He ran all across BG Products Veterans Sports Complex as he started on the far right hash, cutting across the field near the Butler sideline and then followed his blockers back across the field, scoring on far side of the field for the 35-21 lead. 

Thomas finished with 227 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns. 

In all, Butler never found rhythm in the first three quarters offensively, finishing with yards and that's still an adjustment they're making from losing their starting quarterback, Jake Wolff for the rest of the season. it wasn't until Butler started slinging the ball down the field did they find some offensive momentum.

The Grizzlies will now travel to Highland (1-3) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Despite their record, Highland has been competitive and almost beat eighth-ranked Garden City.

"We have to put this Jekyll and Hyde away and show up," Schaffner said. "Becauseif we don't, who knows."

There's still a long way to go in the regular season for the KJCCC Playoffs as there are now three teams (Butler, Garden City, Hutch) sitting at 2-2 in the conference. The top four teams make the conference playoffs in November. 

"If we don't play better than this then everything is up for grabs,"  Schaffner said.

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.