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Butler Bulldogs to Host League-Leading Jacksonville in Homecoming Game

BUTLER (2-1, 0-0 PFL) vs. JACKSONVILLE (2-1, 1-0 PFL)
Homecoming – Saturday, September 27, 12 p.m. (ET)
Butler Bowl – Indianapolis, Ind.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs walked away with a commanding victory against the Taylor Trojans last weekend after only three quarters of play. Coming off a weather-shortened home opener, two-time defending champion Butler won’t be easing into its 2014 Pioneer Football League schedule. The Bulldogs will begin PFL play on Saturday, Sept. 27, against the Jacksonville Dolphins, one of the preseason favorites in this year’s conference race. The game will be Butler’s annual Homecoming contest and will have a noon kickoff at the Butler Bowl.

Jacksonville (2-1, 1-0 PFL) was tabbed third in this year’s preseason poll of league coaches, behind San Diego and Dayton. The Dolphins then opened PFL play by thrashing San Diego, 35-18, two weeks ago to grab an early share of the top spot in the 2014 title chase. Last weekend, Jacksonville defeated Ivy League foe Penn, 34-31.

Butler, which has shared the past two PFL titles, was picked fourth in the league’s preseason poll. The Bulldogs improved to 2-1 on the young season last weekend with a 38-3, weather-shortened victory over Taylor in the 2014 home-opener at the Butler Bowl. The game between the two Indiana squads was called at the end of the third quarter because of lightning. Following the Jacksonville tilt, Butler will take to the road for a pair of PFL contests, before returning home to host league-favorite San Diego on Oct. 18. The Bulldogs have won nine straight PFL games in the Butler Bowl.

Butler head coach Jeff Voris and his staff will wear a Coach To Cure MD logo patch on Saturday in support of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) drive to defeat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It’s the sixth year in a row that college football coaches nationwide have joined together to draw attention to the battle against the disease. College football fans are asked to donate to research projects supported by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. focused entirely on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Fans can donate to the research projects by either going online to www.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word CURE to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill.)

Photo: Butler Athletics/Matt Shiltz (Brent Smith)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Matt Shiltz (Brent Smith)

With inclement weather swirling in the area, Butler created its own storm to knock off Taylor in the team’s final non-conference game of the season. The Bulldogs used a strong start and three long strikes in the third quarter to defeat the NAIA squad from Upland, Ind. Quarterback Matt Shiltz scored on a 13-yard run less than four minutes into the game to give Butler an early lead, and the Bulldogs stretched that margin to 17-3 when the game was halted because of lightning with 0:33 left in the second quarter. Following a delay of an hour-and-a-half, play was resumed, and the Bulldogs unleashed three third quarter touchdowns of 50 yards or more. A second lightning delay at the end of the third quarter resulted in the game being called.

Quarterback Matt Shiltz, making just his third collegiate start, was named Pioneer Football League Co-Offensive Player of the Week and Quarterback of the Week Honorable Mention from College Football Performance Awards for his performance in Butler’s victory over Taylor. The redshirt-junior had a hand in all five Butler touchdowns in the game, and he rolled up 433 yards in total offense in less than three full quarters of action. Shiltz scored the game’s first touchdown on a 13-yard run, and he later added a 74-yard scoring run to help the Bulldogs pull away in the third quarter. He completed 25 of 31 passes (with one interception) for 347 yards and three touchdowns. His scoring passes covered 18 yards to tight end Zack Wolfe, 53 yards to wide receiver Marquese Martin-Hayes and 75 yards to wide receiver Brandon Collins. San Diego wide receiver Reggie Bell, who helped his team to a victory over Princeton, shared the league’s weekly award. Matt Shiltz leads the Pioneer Football League in total offense (328.3), in passing average (267.7) and passing efficiency (157.7). He ranks seventh in the league in rushing (60.7) and fifth in the NCAA Division I FCS in total offense (328.3) and seventh in completion percentage (.691).

Junior placekicker Jon Treloar was perfect on five PAT kicks and one field goal attempt (25 yards) against Taylor. Treloar ranks second in the PFL in kick scoring (5.7 ppg). Treloar boosted his career total for PAT kicks to 95. He’s 19 PAT’s shy of Butler’s career record, held by John Jenkins (1985-88). Treloar remained perfect on three field goal attempts this season with his 25-yarder against Taylor. He’s one of 18 players nationally without a miss in 2014.

Butler’s defensive unit added another notch to its collective belt with a strong performance against Taylor. The Bulldogs, who lead the PFL in rushing defense, limited Taylor to just a single rushing yard on 18 attempts. The visitors’ leading rusher in the game had four total yards on five carries, and three Taylor backs finished with negative rushing yardage. It was the second time in three games that the Bulldogs held their opponent to fewer than 40 rushing yards. This weekend, the Bulldogs face Jacksonville standout Ulysses Bryant, who currently ranks second in the PFL in rushing. Butler ranks second in the NCAA Division I FCS in rushing defense (66.7).

Freshman Ethan Brunhofer won’t forget his first collegiate game in the Butler Bowl. The rookie linebacker from Denver, Colo., celebrated his home debut with a career-high 12 tackles against Taylor. His total led both teams and was the most by a Butler player this season. Brunhofer was making just his second collegiate start for the Bulldogs.

When graduation claimed all three of Butler’s starting wide receivers of a year ago, the Bulldogs’ receiving corps looked to be headed for a major rebuild. That project is well on its way to completion just three games into the season. Butler’s wide receivers compiled over 300 yards against Taylor and caught two of the Bulldogs’ three touchdown passes. Junior Marquese Martin-Hayes led the way against the Trojans with a career-high ten receptions for a career-best 159 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Brandon Collins added a career-high five catches for a career-best 100 yards and one TD, while senior Derek O’Connor finished with four receptions for 44 yards. All three Butler receivers rank in the “Top 10” in the PFL in receiving yards.

Butler added two more quarterback sacks against Taylor to boost its league-leading total on the season to 13. The Bulldogs boast the top three players in the PFL in quarterback sacks – DL Nick McInally (1.00), DL Bret Shannon (1.00) and DL Glen Somers (0.83). Nick McInally shares the PFL lead in tackles for loss (1.50). Teammates Bret Shannon and Glen Somers are among eight players tied for sixth (1.00). Butler is one of four teams leading the NCAA Division I FCS in fewest quarterback sacks allowed (0.00) while ranking third in the NCAA Division I FCS in quarterback sacks (4.33).

The Butler Bulldogs will rely heavily for a repeat performance on defense against a stout Jacksonville offense and running attack, while hoping to add up  rushing yards of their own on offense.  The Bulldogs welcomed back junior RB Rico Watson last weekend against Taylor. The Bulldogs’ third-leading rusher in 2013, second amongst running backs, Watson missed the first two games this season with injury. He had two carries for five yards against Taylor.

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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