The Butler football team held offensive juggernaut Jacksonville to just 24 points last Saturday but were unable to score enough points of their own to get a victory.
Jacksonville (9-1, 7-0 PFL) came to Indianapolis having scored more than 50 points in each of its last three games, but Butler (4-6, 2-5 PFL) struggled in the red zone throughout, resulting in a 24-16 loss.
“There’s no question that [the Butler defenders] played well,” Butler head coach Jeff Voris said. “They got [Jacksonville] off the field, did an outstanding job against the run and got the ball out of the quarterback’s hands.”
Butler’s defensive unit was led by sophomore linebacker Jordan Ridley, who had 12 tackles, half of a sack and a forced fumble.
Sophomore defensive end Jace Tennant also had a strong game, recording 1.5 sacks.
Bulldog junior linebacker Andrew Cottrell also helped out with his interception, which he returned for 16 yards.
“We put up a good effort,” Ridley said. “We played them tough and expected to hold them.
“We didn’t care about the numbers.”
The numbers favored Butler in the early part of the contest, especially in the scoring department, when the Bulldogs quickly built a 10-0 lead by scoring on both of their first-quarter drives. The second of which was a 15- play drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Andrew Huck to sophomore tight end Carter Walley.
But the touchdown toss to Walley was Huck’s only of the day.H u c k went 28-for- 49 for 248 yards but threw two interceptions later on.
After the first quarter, finishing drives was a problem for Butler.
Of the three Bulldog drives in the second quarter, one ended in a threeand- out and the other two ended in missed field goals by junior kicker David Lang.
“I’m proud of how we moved the ball on both sides,” Huck said. “We just have to work on finishing drives.”
Voris said he tipped his cap to Jacksonville for making plays but that he wasn’t satisfied with Butler’s scoring.
“We have to get seven points instead of three,” he said.
Jacksonville took advantage of the Butler second-quarter stall. Junior quarterback Josh McGregor, who went 23-of-35 for 263 yards and two touchdowns, hit senior tight end Chris Kuck for a 5-yard touchdown, cutting Butler’s lead to three.
After a quiet third quarter, Jacksonville took advantage of Butler’s mistakes and opened up a lastig .
A Lang field goal gave Butler another three-point lead, but the Dolphins quickly responded by moving the ball 77 yards in under three minutes for a touchdown.
The ensuing Jacksonville kickoff was fumbled by redshirt freshman wide receiver Brendan Shannon, and although the Dolphins were unable to produce any points off of the mistake, it cost the Bulldogs crucial time.
The lost time did not help Huck, who was soon pressured into throwing an interception.
With a short field ahead, Jacksonville capitalized with a rushing touchdown by senior running back Rudell Small.
Huck threw his second interception of the half with less than three minutes remaining on a Hail Mary desperation throw. A failed onside kick recovery later on sealed Jacksonville’s victory.
“I have to take care of the football,” Huck said. “We can’t have [the interceptions].”
The Drake Bulldogs (6-4, 5-2 PFL) will be the last regular season opponent for Butler.
Drake nearly defeated PFL coleader Dayton last week.
The Butler squad hopes to give the outgoing seniors one more victory for their collegiate football careers.
“We have to go back to square one as far as preparation is concerned,” Voris said. “We have to try to get a win for a team that isn’t going to be together next season.”