Redshirt senior Michael Wellman at Butler’s practice for their game against Valparaiso. Photo by Claire Runkel.
NICK ORR | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Butler took back the Hoosier Helmet with a 26-25, come from behind victory over Valparaiso. The Bulldogs scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to come back and shock Valparaiso and move to 2-1 in PFL play and 4-2 overall.
In the first quarter, the Beacons came out hot, scoring 13 points. To start the scoring, quarterback Michael Appel found receiver Matt Ross from 13 yards out to give Valparaiso a 7-0 lead. On the next Valparaiso drive, Mason Kaplan found running back Jahni Clarke for a 15-yard touchdown. The extra-point attempt was blocked and the lead was extended to 13-0.
Valparaiso’s first quarter scoring was the only scoring of the first half.
In the third quarter, kicker Luka Zurak knocked through a pair of field goals on Butler’s first two offensive drives. The first field goal was from 35-yards to cap off a 12-play, 59-yard drive. It cut the lead to 13-3. The second field goal was the result of a 13-play, 79-yard drive. Zurak knocked through a 22-yard field goal to bring the Bulldogs to within one score, 13-6.
On the next drive, the Beacons drove 67-yards on five plays and scored on a three-yard touchdown run by Kaplan. This extra-point was also blocked and the lead was extended to 19-6.
The Bulldogs responded with a touchdown drive of their own, highlighted and capped off by a 50-yard passing touchdown from quarterback Bret Bushka to receiver Luke Wooten. The Beacons’ lead was cut to 19-13.
After getting the ball at the four yard line and losing three yards, Valparaiso running back Aaron Dawson broke off on a 99-yard touchdown run to extend the lead once again to 25-13, after a failed two-point conversion.
On the ensuing Butler drive, Bushka found tight end Jared Suchevits from four-yards out to cap off a 12-play, 68-yard drive. Zurak’s extra point kick was blocked, so the lead was only cut to 25-19.
The Bulldog defense came up big on Valparaiso’s next drive by forcing a three-and-out and pushing the Beacons’ offense back eight yards.
Bushka led the Bulldogs offense on a 30-yard drive that ended in a two-yard rushing touchdown by Bushka. Zurak knocked through the extra-point to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 26-25.
Once again, the Butler defense came up massive. Lucas Kozlowski intercepted Kaplan to secure the Hoosier Helmet for the Bulldogs.
Butler moves to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in PFL play and will return home for Homecoming against Marist on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. at the Bud and Jackie Sellick Bowl.