The Butler football team got off to a slow start Saturday night against the Dartmouth Big Green and never recovered, falling 35-7.
The Bulldogs (1-2) were able to keep pace for most of the first half in their first-ever game against an Ivy League opponent.
Despite giving up an 85-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff to Miles Gay, Butler trailed 14-7 late in the half. But Dartmouth was able to score with 19 seconds left to lead 21-7 in their season opener.
Butler coach Jeff Voris said the team kept it closer than the score shows.
“We didn’t play complementary football,” Voris said. “When the defense got a stop, we didn’t capitalize on it, and when the offense scored, they came back and scored.”
The Bulldogs threatened multiple times in the second half, but they lost momentum after a goal-line stand by the Big Green (1-0) in the fourth quarter.
Butler receivers Derek O’Connor and JT Mesch each set career highs in the losing effort. O’Connor had 164 receiving yards on nine receptions, both career marks. Mesch accumulated 67 yards on his record eight catches.
O’Connor caught a 5-yard pass from quarterback Matt Lancaster in the second quarter for the team’s only points.
The Bulldogs return home on Saturday to open Pioneer Football League play against Campbell University.
“Our goal is to win the conference championship, and that starts this week,” Lancaster said.
The Camels (1-2) fell on the road last week to No. 6 Old Dominion 70-14.
Campbell junior quarterback Dakota Wolf, made his first career start last week in the loss.
He, like Butler’s Lancaster is an athletic quarterback that can run the ball.
Wolf finished with 22 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. He threw for 56 yards on 8-of-16 passing.
Voris said Campbell is a relatively new program, but it has a good team.
“They’re kind of a mirror image to us,” Voris said.
Kickoff is at noon on Saturday.