Grizzlies Close Season Out With Commanding Home Win Over Ellsworth

Grizzlies Close Season Out With Commanding Home Win Over Ellsworth

EL DORADO, Kan. – Butler football closed its 2023 season out on a high note, defeating the Ellsworth Panthers 47-8 at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.

The game fell on Veterans Day and Butler had veterans from Kansas Honor Flight serve as honorary coin toss captains as well as American Legion Riders and color guard from American Legion Post 81 in attendance. Grizzly football coaches and athletics staff also wore green Butler Veterans Day gear Saturday.

The Grizzlies (5-5, 2-4 KJCCC) closed their season out with an even 5-5 record while Ellsworth fell to 1-10. Butler was 3-2 at home in El Dorado.

Butler jumped out to an early lead, up 19-0 after the first quarter. Aiden Battle connected on two field goals, one from 36 and one from 37 yards out. In between the two field goals, freshman running back Vinny Smith took in his first touchdown of the season, a seven-yard rush to put Butler ahead 9-0. With 16 seconds left in the first period, quarterback Tanner Murray found receiver PJ Caldwell in the front left corner of the end zone as Caldwell toe tapped to finish the 13-yard touchdown and give Butler a 19-0 lead.

Ellsworth scored its only touchdown of the game in the second quarter off a Brycen Davis one yard rush up the middle, capping off a six play, 18-yard drive that was made possible by a Butler fumble on a punt return.

Defensive back Gabe White made a big play on the defensive side of the ball in the second quarter. He picked off an Ellsworth pass and returned it 55 yards for a pick-six that put the Grizzlies ahead 26-6 going into the half.

The second half saw three more Butler touchdowns, all rushes by Grizzly running backs. Jaisean McMillian had six and three yard touchdown runs within two minutes of each other in the third quarter while Smith added his second of the game with 14:20 left in the fourth quarter to make it 47-6 on an 18-yard scamper.

Butler outgained Ellsworth 392-110 in total yards, outrushing them 243 to -17. Quarterback Tanner Murray finished 9-of-17 through the air for 131 passing yards and a touchdown, also rushing for 33 yards on six carries. KJ Shankle led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 87 yards, a 6.2 average per carry. Tight end Dante Daniels led the Grizzly pass catchers with three receptions for 56 yards.

Defensively, Udoka Ezeani had four tackles including a tackle for loss and an interception. Linebacker Landon Boss had four tackles and a big interception near the goal line as Ellsworth was threatening to score. Keghan McConnell had two tackles for loss while White had the pick-six as well as a forced fumble. Malcollm Alcorn-Crowder had two sacks and a forced fumble.