INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, coming off a road win last weekend, return home for what will be an emotional game at the Sellick Bowl on Saturday, November 11. The Bulldogs will celebrate Senior Day during Butler Family Weekend and will host the Valparaiso Crusaders in a Pioneer Football League matchup and the annual rivalry game for the Hoosier Helmet Trophy. The game will conclude the 2017 season and is set to start at 1 PM ET. Butler is 6-4 on the season and 4-3 in PFL play. Valparaiso enters at 4-5 (3-3 PFL).
In a series that dates back to 1927, Butler enjoys a 50-25 lead in match-ups with the Crusaders. In 2006, the teams instituted the Hoosier Helmet Trophy to highlight the rivalry. Since 2006, Butler has won nine of the 11 meetings.
Butler won the 2016 meeting of the two teams, 23-12. The Bulldogs’ defense limited Valparaiso to 222 total yards and just 12 first downs. In contrast, Butler’s offense accumulated 446 yards. The Bulldogs had a 275-33 advantage in rushing yards. Current redshirt senior RB Duvante Lane had 156 yards rushing on 29 carries. Both figures were career-highs. Current junior WR Pace Temple had five receptions for 125 yards. Current senior S Isaak Newhouse got Butler on the board first with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown just two minutes into the first quarter. Current redshirt junior CB Mike Cerone led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles and two pass break-ups.
Lane and Newhouse are among 21 graduating players who will play their final game at the Sellick Bowl on Saturday. The class will be recognized pregame. On the defensive side of the ball, senior S captain Isaak Newhouse and senior DL captain Connor Andras are joined by redshirt senior DL Zach Bacon, redshirt senior DB Jake Balder, redshirt senior DL Danny Banks, redshirt senior LB Dylan Banks , redshirt senior DL Curt Beckman, senior LB Chris Boudoures, senior DB Ryan Bradley, senior LB Ethan Brunhofer, redshirt senior DL Chad Burdo, redshirt junior DB Noah Cralle, and redshirt senior DE Josh Willis. Offensive players set to graduate include redshirt senior captain RB Duvante Lane, along with redshirt senior TE Cord Collier, redshirt junior RB John Hall, redshirt junior TE Jacob Lewis, redshirt junior OL Patrick Mosby, redshirt junior WR Billy Robinson, redshirt senior RB Sam Schrader, and redshirt senior WR Nick Weaver.
While he didn’t have one at Stetson, redshirt senior RB Sam Schrader has run for nine touchdowns so far in 2017. That total is second in the PFL and 15th nationally.
Junior WR Pace Temple has accumulated 951 receiving yards through the team’s 10 games this season. He has eclipsed 100 yards four times in 2017 and has seven 100-yard performances during his career. Temple’s receiving yards are eighth in FCS.
Temple had seven grabs for 138 yards in the Sept. 30 loss to Drake. That followed his eight catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns Sept. 23 at San Diego. His career-high of 156 receiving yards came at Franklin on Sept. 9. Temple now has 134 career receptions and went over 2,000 career yards in the game against Dayton on Oct. 28.
His 95.1 yards per game and 17.3 yards per reception are first and second, respectively, in the conference. The Preseason All-Pioneer Football League selection had 978 receiving yards in 2016, which was 24th in FCS.
Senior S Isaak Newhouse averages 9.3 tackles per game and 6.7 solo tackles per game, which is third and first, respectively, in the PFL. Newhouse has led the Bulldogs in tackles in seven of the team’s games. Newhouse had 13 stops against Jacksonville on Oct. 14, including 10 solo tackles. He had 11 tackles (eight solo) at San Diego on Sept. 23. That performance followed a 14-tackle (12 solo) game against Illinois State in the 2017 opener.
Butler Head Coach Jeff Voris, in his 12th season on the Butler sidelines, enters Saturday’s contest with a 70-64 mark at Butler.
Butler’s offense has been incredibly efficient in a number of categories this season. The Bulldogs lead the PFL and are third nationally in time of possession, averaging 34:12 per game. The 41:49 of possession against Campbell on Oct. 21 was actually the second-best mark of the season as Butler held the ball for 44:21 against Franklin in the second game of the season.
Butler’s three lost fumbles are the lowest mark in the PFL, while the team has been penalized only an average of 54.2 yards per game this season. That is second in the PFL. The Bulldogs are converting third downs at a 43.4-percent clip, which is third in the PFL. And Butler’s offensive line is allowing only an average of 0.60 sacks per game. That leads the conference and is fourth nationally. The Bulldogs lead the PFL in red zone offense, scoring on 87 percent of their trips inside the 20 this season.
Butler’s three-game conference winning streak prior to its Oct. 28 loss at Dayton was the first for the Bulldogs since 2013 when the team had separate four- and three-game stints. Butler went over 200 yards on the ground in all three wins. The Bulldogs used 229 yards on the ground to power by Campbell, 37-23, on Oct. 21. Butler had 232 yards rushing against Jacksonville on Oct. 14, and 253 yards on the ground in the 44-6 rout of Morehead State on Oct. 7. Both Jacksonville and Campbell were undefeated in PFL play entering their match-up with Butler.
Including the Bulldogs’ five fumble recoveries in the win over Morehead State, Butler has 10 on the season. That mark is 11th nationally while leading the PFL.
In the most recent outing at Stetson, Butler’s defense had five sacks and held the Hatters’ rushing attack to negative-21 yards. It was the team’s best defensive performance of the season. Another impressive outing for Butler’s defense was limiting Campbell to 34 rushing yards on 17 attempts and just three third-down conversions Oct. 21.
Butler’s coverage units have been among the best nationally once again this season. The Bulldogs lead the PFL, allowing only an average of 3.9 yards per punt return. Butler surrenders only 17.5 yards per kick-off return, which also leads the PFL.
Butler was picked to finish seventh in the Pioneer Football League preseason poll. The conference’s 11 head coaches voted in the poll and were not allowed to vote for their own team. San Diego was picked as the preseason favorite.
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 @CafultzISRand the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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