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Butler Bulldogs Routed in Homecoming Game Loss

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – After playing just three quarters in the home-opening victory against Taylor, the Butler Bulldogs had a rougher go of things on Saturday at the Butler Bowl against the Jacksonville Dolphins. Jacksonville quarterback Kade Bell passed for 401 yards and five touchdowns to lead visiting Jacksonville to a 35-7 victory over Butler in the Bulldogs’ annual Homecoming game on Saturday, Sept. 27. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 2-2 on the young season and 0-1 in the Pioneer Football League.

The league-leading Dolphins (3-1, 2-0 PFL), aided by long plays, struck three times in the first half to grab a 21-0 lead. Bell hit Damien Strange with a 20-yard tochdown pass just over six minutes into the game for a quick lead. That touchdown play followed a 49-yard run by running back Ulysses Bryant.

Andrew Robustelli then caught a 44-yard touchdown pass with 5:36 left in the opening period, and Andy Jones closed out the first half scoring with a nine-yard touchdown catch. That final first half scoring drive was aided by a 32-yard Bell to D’Andre Randle pass.

“They have a good plan. They’re well-coached, and they have a tough scheme to defend,” said Butler head coach Jeff Voris after the game. “They played much better than us today.”

Bell, who completed 25 of 40 passes in the game, added two more touchdown passes in the second half, including a 90-yard strike to Bryant in the fourth quarter.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Marquese Martin-Hayes (Brent Smith)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Marquese Martin-Hayes (Brent Smith)

The Bulldogs certainly had their opportunities, driving inside the Jacksonville 20-yard line four times, but two missed field goals and a lost fumble ended three of those drives.

Butler finally found the end zone with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Quarterback Matt Shiltz found Marquese Martin-Hayes open over the middle, and the Butler wide receiver broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 28-7.

Shiltz directed another long drive in the fourth quarter, leading the Bulldogs on an 89-yard march to the Jacksonville six-yard line, but the Butler quarterback fumbled on a first down run and Jacksonville recovered it to end the threat.

“I thought we prepared well and had a good week. We just didn’t start well and got behind,” added Voris. “And then we continued to make mistakes and stop ourselves. It was a long day. Way too many mistakes really to beat any team, let alone a really good team like Jacksonville.”

Shiltz, making just his fourth collegiate start, completed 24 of 44 passes (with one interception) for 296 yards. Martin-Hayes finished with seven receptions for 119 yards.

Senior safety JoJo Ciancio led Butler’s defensive unit with 10 tackles, and he added a pass interception which he returned 20 yards. Cornerback Justin Crull added seven tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Bryant, the second-leading rusher in the PFL, finished with 134 rushing yards on 15 carries and 96 receiving yards on two catches. Jacksonville finished with 611 yards in total offense, while the Bulldogs compiled 446.

Butler will be on the road for its next two contests, beginning with a trip to Florida to face Stetson on Saturday, Oct. 4.

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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