COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - The No. 2-ranked Butler Grizzlies suffered their worst loss in more than 20 years on Saturday, falling 49-7 on Saturday at Titan Stadium.
The 42-point margin is the largest since the Grizzlies lost 58-7 to Garden City at Galen Blackmore Stadium in 1995. The 49 points is the first time Butler has allowed more than 40 points since a 43-29 loss at Highland in 2006.
Butler took the opening kickoff and easily moved to the Iowa Western 4-yard line before the drive stalled. A 20-yard field goal attempt by Chris Diddle was pushed just wide to the right. The failed attempt ended up being Butler's best scoring chance in the first half.
Neither team scored in the second quarter, trading both turnovers and punts. Fittingly, the first score of the game came from a defense, as Iowa Western's Daniel Ezeagwu intercepted a tipped pass from Butler's David Isreal and returned the ball 18 yards to put the Reivers up 7-0 with 7:24 left in the first half.
On Butler's next possession, punter Joe Stevens had his kick blocked by Reivers defensive lineman Luke Worden, who also recovered the ball and rumbled to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback AJ Bush scored on a 1-yard plunge and Iowa Western led 14-0 with 5:06 left in the half.
Butler would squander a scoring opportunity late in the half, following a muffed punt by Iowa Western. The Grizzlies took over inside the red zone but failed to convert on a fourth-down attempt, remaining scoreless into the half.
It was the first time Butler had failed to score in the first half of a game since the 2013 Graphic Edge Bowl against Iowa Western.
Iowa Western took the opening kickoff of the second half and moments later scored on an 87-yard touchdown run by Lorenzo Pratt to make it a 21-0 game.
Butler would get its only touchdown of the game, coming from its defense as Iowa Western fumbled the ball. Defensive lineman So'journ Gartrell picked up the ball at the 5-yard line and returned it to the end zone, making it 21-7 with 12:09 left in the third.
Iowa Western would answer with a 13-play, 74-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run.
Butler trailed 28-7 going to the fourth quarter and would give up two scoring passes before Iowa Western closed the scoring with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Butler (2-1 overall, 2-0 conference) returns to Jayhawk Conference play next Saturday when they host No. 19 Dodge City at 7 p.m. at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.