Despite a stone-wall defense in the second half and a record-breaking performance by senior wide receiver Zach Watkins, the Butler football team fell to Drake 24-14 in a battle of the Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Bulldogs from Drake (3-1, 1-0) managed to find the end zone first, despite a sack by Butler senior defensive lineman Grant Hunter and an interception by senior linebacker Nick Caldicott.
Drake put the Butler Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1) in an early hole with a 6-yard run into the end zone by senior running back Patrick Cashmore. Butler blocked the extra point attempt, keeping the deficit at 6-0.
After the Drake touchdown, Butler’s defense continued to hang tough, with junior linebacker Jordan Ridley and junior defensive lineman Jack Tennant nabbing back-to-back sacks.
The defensive push sent Drake’s offense back 12 yards and started a Butler drive that carried into the second quarter.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, the Butler Bulldogs found the end zone when senior wide receiver Jeff Larsen made a 24-yard reverse pass to Watkins for the touchdown.
“We try something every week that keeps them guessing, ‘will they or won’t they?’” head coach Jeff Voris said. “We thought we had that one pretty polished up.”
The reception gave Watkins his second school record in as many games. Watkins moved past Dan Bohrer on Butler’s all-time receiving yards list with 2,308.
Butler made the extra point, taking a short-lived 7-6 lead. A Drake touchdown with 6:58 left in the half followed by a successful two-point conversion and another run into the end zone gave Drake a 21-7 halftime advantage.
The third quarter was a defensive one for both teams, with a field goal by Drake accounting for the quarter’s only points. It would be the last score of the day for Drake’s offense.
“[The defense] was up to tempo on game speed,” Voris said. “Everyone was doing their job, being in the right place at the right time.”
Butler’s offense made a late push with a touchdown during the game’s final two minutes. Senior quarterback Andrew Huck completed a 27-yard pass to senior wide receiver Jordan Koopman to cut the lead to 24-14.
Butler’s defense recovered a fumble moments later, but the ensuing offensive drive ended with Huck being intercepted, preserving Drake’s victory.
“We have to move forward and leave this behind us,” Watkins said.
In addition to Watkins’ record-setting day, Huck attempted a school record 51 passes during the game, completing 27 of them.
Butler will travel to Dayton this Saturday for another Pioneer League matchup.