Story by Mike Wendlandt
Photo by Joel Venzke
From the outset, Butler (6-2, 4-0) controlled the clock and the line of scrimmage, and slowing the powerful Drake (3-4, 2-2) offense to just one touchdown offensively.
It started early, where Butler drew first blood on a pass from Wade Markley to J.T. Mesch from 18 yards away on the very first drive of the game to put Butler up 7-0, and it remained that way until the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Drake came right back and tied it up on a five-yard pass from junior Andy Rice to fifth-year senior Nick Rosa with just under nine minutes left in the first half.
It continued to be a defensive stalemate for most of the rest of the half, until Butler scored with just 50 seconds left on a pass from running back Tom Judge to Dylan Johnson that gave Butler a 14-7 lead at the half.
Drake head coach Chris Creighton was not thrilled with the first half.
“I think they (Butler) outcoached us and outplayed us all around,” he said.
Drake attempted to move down and score in the final minute, but Rice was intercepted in the endzone.
The second half was a slow affair early, with just a Butler field goal being scored in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter is where everything got interesting.
At the beginning of the quarter, Butler misplayed a lateral at their own 17-yard line, and Drake capitalized.
Fifth-year senior defensive end Brandon Coleman scooped up the ball and sprinted into the endzone to give Drake life again.
“That was absolutely huge and a perfect example of making a play,” Creighton said.
It seemed that the game was Drake’s for the taking, but another costly turnover stopped Drake’s next drive in Butler territory, and Butler scored quickly after on a four-yard run from Markley to give the final margin of victory.
It is Butler’s first win in its last four attempts against Drake.
Offensively, it was a statistically superior day from Drake, with Rice throwing for a career-high 330 yards on 27-of-47 passing with a touchdown, but two interceptions. One hundred eight of those yards went to Eric Saubert, who continued his high level of play.
Rosa contributed as well with 41 yards and a score, while Jacob Dines had a nice performance in increased playing time, contributing 68 yards.
Junior Gary Scott Jr. again paced the running game with 43 yards on only eight carries.
Defensively, junior John Huginin continued his tackling domination with 16 more stops, while fifth-year safety Michael Ratelle contributed 10 stops. Brandon Coleman had the only sack, as well as his touchdown, to spark the defense.
Drake returns home for three consecutive games, with Valparaiso coming to town first next Saturday. Kickoff for that game is at 1 p.m.