Big 4th Quarter helps No. 12 Butler take down Indy at home

Big 4th Quarter helps No. 12 Butler take down Indy at home

EL DORADO, Kan. – All three phases came to play for Butler on Saturday evening at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex as the 12th ranked Grizzlies took down the Independence Pirates, 26-20.

Butler (2-1, 2-1 KJCCC) moved above .500 with the win over the Pirates (2-2, 1-1). The Grizzlies now sit in third place in the KJCCC standings, falling in behind Dodge City (2-0) and Garden City (1-0).

The Grizzlies went into the fourth quarter trailing the Pirates 20-15 after Indy's quarterback Kai Kunz tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass, his second and final touchdown, to Isaiah Myers with four seconds left in the third quarter.

Both teams punted on their first possessions of the fourth quarter. On Butler's second drive of the final frame, sophomore quarterback Tanner Murray (Houston, TX) led the Grizzlies on a 6-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that ended in him finding freshman wide receiver Dominick Foster (Warren, OH) for a 28-yard toe tap touchdown in the back of the endzone. Foster followed that up with a caught slant from Murray for the two-point conversion to go ahead 23-20.

The Grizzly defense turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter, forcing a punt, fumble, interception and turnover on downs on the Pirates four possessions.

On Indy's next drive after the Butler touchdown, Grizzly defensive lineman Malcolm Alcorn-Crowder (Whitman, Mass.) sacked Kunz and forced a fumble that fell right into the waiting hands of Grizzly defensive lineman Hiram Stready (St. Matthews, SC) who returned it five yards to the Indy 13-yard line. It was Butler's first forced turnover of the season. The Grizzlies parlayed that into a 27-yard field goal from freshman kicker Aiden Battle (Leavenworth) to go ahead 26-20 with 4:20 left in the game.

The first play of Indy's next drive, Alcorn-Crowder again got to the quarterback and hurried him. He was forced to toss the ball up and Butler defensive back Patrick Mooney (Tampa, FL) went up and snagged it out of the air for the Grizzlies first interception of the season. Alcorn-Crowder and defensive lineman Marlin Dean (Elberton, GA) each sacked Indy's quarterback on their next and final possession to seal the deal.

Butler outgained Indy in total yards 367 to 362 although the Pirates ran 20 more offensive plays at 77 to 57. Butler outrushed the Pirates 122 to 49. Murray finished 12-of-25 for 245 yards, a career-high, and two touchdowns as well as an interception. He also led the Grizzlies with 49 rushing yards on seven carries. Wide receiver Jamarion McDougle (Deerfield Beach, FL) led the Grizzly pass catchers with 82 yards on two receptions, one being a 61-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put Butler ahead 8-6.

Butler went into halftime ahead 8-6 thanks to some wildly impressive special teams play. The Grizzlies blocked an extra point and two field goals in the first half. They have now blocked an extra point in all three games this season and have blocked five total kicks. Defensive back Ashton Levells (Dallas, TX) blocked the first extra point that Indy attempted, and defensive back Kaden White (New Orleans, LA) ran it all the way back for two points, making it 6-2 Indy. On the Pirates next drive they set up for a 25-yard field goal but once again, Levells came racing around the right side to block it and defensive back Timothy Croskey (Buckeye, AZ) picked it up and returned it 21 yards before being tripped up. Two plays later, Murray found McDougle for the previously mentioned 61-yard touchdown as McDougle was streaking down the hash wide open where Murray found him after beating his man. Indy marched the ball down on the last posession of the second quarter and set up for a 27-yard field goal. Defensive back Jeremy Fowler (New Roads, LA) got a hand on the kick as time expired in the half and prevented the Pirates from going into halftime with a lead.

Butler scored on the opening possession of the third quarter. Running back Jaisean McMilllian (Mobile, AL) capped off a nine play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The drive was highlighted by Murray finding tight end Blake Reeder (Kansas City, KS) for a 16-yard completion, Murray scrambling for a 21-yard pickup, Murray hitting receiver Russell Wilkey (Junction City) for a 19-yard gain and Murray and McDougle connecting again, this one for 21-yards.

Defensively Butler was led by Alcorn-Crowder's two sacks (three TFL) and forced fumble. Linebacker Udoka Ezeani (Houston, TX) led the way with eight tackles. Butler had 11 tackles for loss in the game.

Kunz, an Andover Central graduate, finished 25-of-44 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the Pirates in rushing with 42 yards on 12 carries. Wide receiver Isaiah Myers led Indy with six receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.

The Grizzlies will hit the road for their first non-conference matchup of the year on Saturday, Sept. 23, when they take on Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla. at 6 p.m. from Red Robertson Stadium.