10th ranked Grizzlies unable to get going in loss to top ranked Hutchinson

10th ranked Grizzlies unable to get going in loss to top ranked Hutchinson


EL DORADO, Kan. – Butler scored first, but were unable to get much else going as they fell 43-16 to the number one ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons in the 100th all-time meeting between the two schools on Saturday night at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.

The loss was the sixth straight loss to Hutchinson (5-0, 2-0 KJCCC) for Butler (3-2, 2-2 KJCCC). The Blue Dragons now lead the all-time series 51-48-1. The 16 points the Grizzlies scored was the most an opponent has scored on Hutchinson this season as they had not yet allowed double digits.

Butler came out firing early on. They forced two Blue Dragon punts on their first two drives of the game including forcing a three and out on the second drive with defensive lineman Hiram Stready sacking Hutch quarterback Samari Collier for a five-yard loss.

Butler took over on its own 41-yard line after the Hutch punt and on the first play running back KJ Shankle had a nice 11-yard rush. On the next play, Grizzly quarterback Tanner Murray found an open receiver down the right hash in Nick Brown who broke two tackles on his way to a 48-yard touchdown to put Butler ahead 6-0 with 4:52 left in the first quarter.

The Grizzlies did not score again until the third quarter as Hutchinson scored 29 unanswered points from late in the first quarter until Butler scored with 10:22 left in the third quarter to make it 29-13 as Justin Stephens hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass from Murray.

Hutchinson totaled 354 rushing yards and had two different 100-yard rushers as they gained 7.1 yards per rush. They outgained Butler 489-257 in total yards. Butler was just 5-of-17 (29%) on third down.

Murray finished 13-of-31 for 175 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the Grizzlies in rushing for a second straight conference game as he had 37 yards on 14 carries. Stephens, the Grizzlies leading receiver, led Butler for a second straight week with four receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. He had a 44-yard reception on Butler's first drive of the game.

Butler looked to be turning the game around in the third quarter as they scored on the first possession of the second half on the Murray to Stephens connection to make it 29-13, a two-score game. On Hutchinson's next possession, Butler defensive lineman Marlin Dean bull rushed the offensive tackle and got to Collier, sacking him and poking the ball out as defensive lineman Jaden Scott recovered it for the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies gained a first down following the turnover on a 12-yard pass to tight end Dante Daniels but Murray was sacked on the next play and the Grizzlies were too far behind the chains on the next two plays to get anything going. Chevy Edwards had to punt back to Hutchinson and they took over on their own 17-yard line. On the very first play of the drive, Collier took a quarterback keeper 83 yards for a touchdown that seemingly took the air out of the Grizzlies who, for a brief moment, had all the momentum.

Collier finished 12-of-19 passing for 135 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He rushed nine times for 97 yards. Running backs Tyrell Reed Jr. and Brandon Epton Jr. had 123 and 100 yard on the ground, respectively.

Grizzly linebacker and tackles leader Udoka Ezeani once again paced the defense with 10 tackles on the night including 1.5 tackles for loss. Stready had two tackles for loss to lead Butler. Defensive back Kaden White intercepted Collier with 13 seconds left in the second quarter in the end zone.

Despite the loss there were some bright spots on the night. Legendary assistant coach Steve Braet was inducted into the Butler Athletics Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. Braet retired in March of 2022 following a 42-year coaching career at Butler in which he was a part of all six Grizzly football national championships. He was honored with an honorary photo plaque as well as a '42' Butler Grizzly jersey that was framed. There was a special tribute video that aired on the video board with former Grizzly and current Dallas Cowboy defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who played for Braet, narrating. You can view the video here.

At halftime of the game, Butler honored the 2003 national championship team for their 20-year reunion after they defeated Dixie State 14-10 to win Butler's fourth championship. Nearly 40 members of the team were in attendance.

Butler turns its attention to Jireh Prep for a home contest on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1:30 p.m.