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Butler Bulldogs Win PFL Opener in Comeback Fashion on Homecoming

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, looking to stay hot after a blowout win on the road, returned home to the Butler Bowl for tough test. Butler’s Homecoming crowd was treated to a spectacular fourth-quarter comeback that propelled the Bulldogs to a 25-24 win over the Campbell Camels in the Pioneer Football League opener for both schools. Redshirt junior WR Brandon Collins hauled in a pass from redshirt senior QB Matt Shiltz with one hand to give Butler (3-1, 1-0 PFL) its only lead of the game with 37 seconds to play. Butler’s defense would turn away the Campbell (2-2, 0-1 PFL) final attempt with an interception to seal the win.

In a game that featured the number one ranked team in total offense and scoring offense in the PFL, Butler, verse the number one team in total defense in the PFL, Campbell, one couldn’t have asked for a better Homecoming matchup. Although the Bulldogs were up against Campbell, who also featured the number one rushing offense, rushing defense and pass efficiency rating in the PFL, it was a solid week of preparation that led Butler to the win.

“It wasn’t necessarily all the time spot on, but when it came to it, the mental preparation from Thursday night through kickoff, I thought we were outstanding and I thought our guys were assignment sound,” said Butler Head Coach Jeff Voris. “Sometimes we needed to be a little more disciplined with the penalties, but I thought we came ready to play. There was an emotional readiness. It’s hard to win, it’s really hard to college football games, especially in the PFL when you get into the league and I think our preparation helped us.”

Down 24-18, Butler got the ball at its own 25 after a touchback with 2:29 to play. On 4th and 6 from Butler’s own 29, Shiltz threw a pass up for grabs down the right sideline and Collins made an adjustment on the ball and hauled in the 42-yard pass. More importantly, it moved the sticks. Butler faced fourth down again with 54 seconds to play. Shiltz’s pass to the back corner of the endzone fell incomplete, but Campbell was called for pass interference, tying up senior WR Marquese Martin-Hayes. Two plays later, Shiltz found Collins isolated on the right side in one-on-one coverage and the wide receiver pulled in a one-handed touchdown catch. The PAT by senior K Jonathan Treloar gave the Bulldogs a 25-24 advantage.

Campbell would not go quietly. Starting its drive with 37 seconds to play on its own 38, a 31-yard completion made things interesting. The Camels would advance the ball all the way to Butler’s 23, needing only a field goal to win. But a chop block on the Camels would push the ball back to the Butler 38. Redshirt senior QB Kameron Bryant’s Hail Mary was deflected and ultimately intercepted by redshirt junior safety Zach LaRoche as the final horn sounded.

“Truly tip your hat to the defense who made all the plays it had to make to keep us in it,” said Voris. “It was a team win. Our defense held us in it the whole time. They just kept lining up and making plays.”

Shiltz led the Bulldogs with 234 yards connecting on 21-of-38 pass attempts (55%) through the air and a team high 83 yards on the ground on 11 attempts. His two touchdown passes went to Collins and freshman WR Pace Temple, who hauled in a 7-yard TD completion in the first quarter.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Brandon Collins (Jimmy Lafakis)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Brandon Collins (Jimmy Lafakis)

Campbell held a slight edge in total yards, 376-371, and time of possession, 31:57-28:03. Junior RB DeShawn Jones had 133 yards rushing and one touchdown for the Camels.

After a scoreless third quarter, Campbell took its largest lead with a two-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior RB Jared Joyner with 12:38 to play. The score gave Campbell a 21-10 lead. After trading possessions, Butler put together a drive that brought the Bulldogs back in the game. Shiltz found redshirt junior WR Guy DiBalsamo for 19 yards and mixed in four runs and a Campbell facemask penalty. On first down from the eight, Shiltz handed the ball to DiBalsamo on the end-around. Shiltz then leaked out and ended up wrestling the ball from a Campbell defender for a touchdown catch. On another end-around, Redshirt senior P/WR Brian Akialis flipped the ball to senior tight end Zack Wolfe for the ensuing two-point conversion to pull the Bulldogs within 21-18. Campbell would connect on a field goal to set up the final scoring sequence.

“The key thing on preparation is that you are consistent with it and that every opponent is a nameless, faceless opponent,” added Voris. “It’s about you go about your work and building trust with your teammates that you are going to be in the right place at the right time. I thought this week we had good preparation.”

Butler enters their bye week and will have two weeks to prepare for Morehead State. The Bulldogs travel to Morehead, Ky., for the PFL match-up Saturday, Oct. 10. The game kicks at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs return to the Butler Bowl Oct. 17 to face Davidson.

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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