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Butler Bulldogs Finish Season on the Road against San Diego

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The 2015 Butler Football Season will conclude after the Butler Bulldogs take on the San Diego Toreros in San Diego. The Pioneer Football League matchup is set for 1 p.m. Pacific, 4 p.m. Eastern. The Toreros are 8-2 overall and 6-1 in PFL play. San Diego plans a video stream of the game through its web site.

The Toreros own a 15-5 advantage in the all-time series with the Bulldogs, including three straight wins. That includes a hard-fought 27-21 decision a season ago in Indianapolis.

Last time out, Butler put an exclamation point on the home careers of its 16 seniors with a 20-13 win over Pioneer Football League rival Drake on Saturday afternoon at the Butler Bowl. Butler outscored the visitors, 17-3, in the second half including 10-0 in the decisive fourth quarter, to take the win. Saturday’s win completed a 5-0 home mark for the host Bulldogs. This Butler team is the first since 2012 to go undefeated at the Butler Bowl.

On Senior Day at the Butler Bowl, redshirt senior QB Matt Shiltz led the charge with 227 yards passing and two touchdown passes, connecting with fellow classmates, senior TE Zack Wolfe and senior WR Marquese Martin-Hayes in the final home game for the group. He had 60 yards on the ground. A total of sixteen Bulldogs will play their final game Saturday afternoon in San Diego one week after suiting up for their final home contest. The group enters the contest with a 27-18 record and was part of a 2013 squad that won the PFL and advanced to the FCS Playoffs. Five members of the group have earned All-PFL honors in a previous season.

Matt Shiltz enters Saturday’s season finale with 2,325 yards passing. That total is already good for seventh in Butler single-season history. If he hits his single-game average of 247 in Saturday’s game against San Diego, he would jump to fourth on the list.

Shiltz is second in the PFL in total offense at 299.7 yards per game. Truly a dual threat, he ranks third in the league in passing (247 yards per game) and seventh in the league in rushing (52.7 yards per game). His 120 yards on the ground earlier this season at Morehead State produced the first 100-yard rushing performance for the Bulldogs this season. Shiltz has scoring runs of 77, 75 and 41 this season. Through ten games overall, Shiltz has 28 total touchdowns (17 passing, 10 rushing, and one receiving). Even if you don’t count the passing touchdowns by quarterback Matt Shiltz, he is second in the PFL in touchdowns with seven (six rushing and one receiving) in league games.

Shiltz has done a nice job distributing the ball this season, including hitting nine receivers in each of the team’s last two games. Sixteen Bulldogs (including Shiltz himself) have caught multiple passes this season. Shiltz is third in the PFL in passing yards per game yet no Butler receivers appear in the top ten in receiving yards.

Butler is second in the PFL in punting, averaging 36.7 net yards per kick. That is one-tenth behind league-leading Campbell. The Bulldogs have only allowed 32 return yards on the season. Butler also leads the conference in kick-off return average at 23.7 yards per return. Much of that work has been done by Marquese Martin-Hayes, who averages 26.5 yards per return against PFL competition, good for fourth in the league.

The five members of Butler’s offensive line have started every contest in 2015. That continuity has been effective as the Bulldogs have only allowed 11 sacks in seven PFL games. The Bulldogs have attempted 250 passes in conference play, tied for fourth in the PFL. The Bulldogs also average 142.1 yards rushing per contest, which is fourth in the conference. That has contributed to Butler averaging 33:23 in time of possession this season, which is the second-best mark in the PFL.

Sophomore S Isaak Newhouse leads the Bulldogs with six interceptions on the season, including one against Drake that he returned 30 yards. Newhouse ranks fourth in FCS in picks.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Anthony Scaccia (Brent Smith)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Anthony Scaccia (Brent Smith)

The Bulldogs’ first touchdown drive on Saturday against Drake took 7:54 off the clock. It was Butler’s longest scoring drive of the season. Only six of Butler’s 33 touchdown drives this season have taken more than 3:30 off the clock. Fifteen of the touchdowns have been on drives of less than two minutes, with five of those drives finding the endzone in less than one minute. Butler had a more characteristic 26-second scoring drive to take the lead Saturday as redshirt freshman RB John Hall and Marquese Martin-Hayes were the recipients of passes on the two-play drive. Butler’s final drive of the game against Drake, which resulted in a 27-yard field goal by senior K Jonathan Treloar, used 8:56 on the clock.

In PFL play, Butler allows opponents to only convert 29% of third downs, which is best in the conference. The Bulldogs have allowed only 16.3 first downs per game, which trails only San Diego in the league ranks. Butler’s offense is converting 45% of its third downs, which is third among PFL teams.

Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter

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