The Butler Grizzlies began the Brice Vignery era with a bang, earning a huge win over the seventh ranked team in the country, defeating Garden City in an instant classic at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. Butler edged out the Broncbusters 35-28 on Saturday in the opening game of the 2022 season.
With the win, Vignery earns his first win ever as a head coach and the Grizzlies open their season 1-0, the first time since the 2019 season.
"It's very gratifying to know that the message is being received in our kids. We talk about mentally breaking down teams and I think we achieved that tonight," said Vignery in his postgame press conference. "I thought our kids played really disciplined football and that is something we have been preaching since January."
It was a game that featured four ties and five lead changes. Garden City opened the scoring before the Grizzlies scored their first touchdown of the year, as Jake Wolff found Quavez Humphreys for a 14-yard connection. Azhuan Dingle scored two touchdowns, finding the end zone on a 2-yard run before giving Butler their first lead of the game on an 11-yard trot. Garden City managed to tie the game late in the second quarter with a 24-yard pass and the two teams went into the locker room deadlocked at 21.
The Grizzlies opened the scoring in the third quarter with a 43-yard rocket from Wolff to Humphreys for his second touchdown of the game. Garden City had an answer on the ensuing drive finishing with a 17-yard pass from Morrison to Perry, knotting the game up at 28-28.
Butler controlled the fourth quarter with a four-minute drive that saw Azhuan Dingle earn his third touchdown of the game, giving Butler the lead for good. The Grizzlies got a crucial stop on fourth down late in the game and held onto the ball for the final five minutes to cement the victory.
It was a sensational offensive performance. The Grizzlies finished with 457 yards of total offense, including 231 yards passing. Jake Wolff, in his first game back after seeing his freshman season ended by injury, put in a great performance, finishing 19-29 for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
"Having your season taken away in the second week of the season last year was tough. There has been so many people in my camp that have helped me get here, and I'm so appreciative for all of it," Wolff said.
The Grizzlies showed their depth at the wide receiver position, as nine different players tallied receptions on the night. Humphreys, Jeremiah Payton and Jaelon Travis led the team with four receptions each. Humphreys totaled 64 yards and two touchdowns.
"I can count on every single one of them," said Jake Wolff. "I have the ultimate trust in what they're going to do and they're going to win and we're going to complete passes."
"Me and Jake have a really good connection from the spring, so I trust him," commented Humphreys.
Defensively, the Grizzlies held Garden City to just 3 of 11 on third down conversions and sacked the quarterback five times. Norman Massey led the defense with eight tackles and a sack.
"Our kids were in the right spots and our guys made big plays," Vignery said.
"This program has treated me like family since day one," said Azhuan Dingle. "So, it's special for me to see coach win his first game. I'm just grateful and blessed to be a part of something special."
"It's just different here," Jake Wolff said. "I have not been a part of a team or a group of guys that have this kind of instant connection when we walk into the locker room."
With the win, the Grizzlies now have tied up the overall series with Garden that now sits at 43-43-3 against the Broncbusters. The Grizzlies ended a three-game losing streak to the Broncbustes, after Garden City ended Butler's season last year.
Butler will look to stay unbeaten as they travel to Highland next week for a matchup with the Scotties on Saturday, September 3rd at 1:00pm. Highland fell in their season opener on the road at Coffeyville losing 37-0 to the Red Ravens.
"We'll enjoy it until about midnight and then we'll move on," commented Vignery. "You work all year long for 11 of these opportunities and if you're satisfied after one, I don't know why you're in the business."