Butler senior kicker David Lang has been “good as gold” this season, to steal a term often used to describe Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould.
Lang drilled a game-winning, 35-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game to give the Butler football team a 29-27 victory over Dayton on Saturday.
“That was a great win,” Butler head coach Jeff Voris said.
Lang nailed another 35-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter as well as a career-long 46-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
The performance earned Lang the Pioneer Football League’s Special Teams Player of the Week honor, his second this season.
The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-1) needed all the points that Lang produced after blowing a 10-point advantage against the Flyers, (3-2, 1-1) the co-champion of the PFL last season.
Butler overcame Dayton’s defensive effort on its first drive of the game, moving the ball 83 yards in 11 plays.
The drive finished in the end zone with a three-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Zach Watkins from senior quarterback Andrew Huck.
Huck ended the day with 255 passing yards and three touchdown passes.
The Bulldogs had a 10-0 lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to Lang’s 46-yard field goal.
The Flyers rallied in the second quarter to score two consecutive touchdowns and gain a 14-10 lead.
Butler responded by putting together an 80-yard drive in the last three minutes of the first half. Huck capped the drive with a four-yard pass to senior wide receiver Jeff Larsen, giving the Bulldogs a 16-14 lead at halftime.
“We came out really strong,” sophomore cornerback Kevin Cook said. “Dayton has always been one of our biggest rivals. We had the mentality ‘we can win’, and that’s what gave us tempo.”
The third quarter saw tight defense and one touchdown for each squad. Dayton’s failed two-point conversion after its touchdown left the Bulldogs with a 23-20 lead.
The tide turned for the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter after a Butler punt was blocked and returned 42 yards, giving Dayton a 27-23 lead.
“That put us down, but we set the tempo on the next drive,” Cook said.
The Bulldogs erased part of the deficit when Lang made a 35-yard field goal, bringing the Bulldogs within one point of the Flyers with 7:52 remaining.
After the field goal, Butler’s defense held strong to give the offense another opportunity. The Bulldogs’ defense limited Dayton to 78 passing yards and 162 rushing yards while forcing three turnovers.
“[The defense] was more aggressive on the short passes, and we really wanted to press that,” Cook said.
Butler sealed the victory with Lang’s field goal with seven seconds left to go.
Cook said that beating last season’s PFL co-champs made the Butler win even sweeter.
“We don’t want to share anything with anybody,” Cook said. “If we can beat the league champs, then we can be the league champs. This win was crucial to the rest of our season.”
The Bulldogs will hit the road for their next game at Campbell Saturday.