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Butler Bulldogs Win Weather-Shortened Home Opener

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs played their first home game of the season on Saturday against the Taylor Trojans under the lights at the Butler Bowl. The game only lasted three quarters due to lightning in the area, but consumed nearly four hours as Butler claimed a 38-3 victory. The victory lifted the Bulldogs to 2-1 on the young season and makes the Bulldogs winners in six consecutive home openers.

The Bulldogs’ final non-conference contest was interrupted twice by lightning. The first came with 33 seconds remaining in the first half and lasted for an hour-and-a-half. The second came at the end of the third quarter, at which time coaches and officials agreed to end the game.

Photo: Butler Athletics/ Butler Bowl
Photo: Butler Athletics/ Butler Bowl

In between the delays, Butler put on a strong football performance. The Bulldogs took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter behind a 13-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matt Shiltz and a 25-yard field goal by Jon Treloar. The margin grew to 17-0 in the second quarter on a Shiltz to TD Zack Wolfe touchdown pass from 18 yards out, before Taylor put points on the board with a 33-yard Wynn Coggin field goal.

That’s when both teams were ordered off the field and fans were led from the stands, due to lightning in the area.

After the lengthy delay, Butler brought its own lightning. On the first play of the third quarter, Shiltz broke free on a 74-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 24-3.

“We responded well,” said Butler head coach Jeff Voris. “We probably responded better out of the delay than maybe we did out of the opening kickoff. The momentum we gained from that quick score really snow-balled on them.”

Butler’s defense held Taylor on fourth and four at the Butler 47 yard line and received the ball after the turnover on downs following the Trojans’ first third quarter possession. The Bulldogs launched another lightning strike for a touchdown on the first play of their series. This one came on a pass from Shiltz to wide receiver Marquese Martin-Hayes and covered 53-yards and made it 31-3.

The Bulldogs’ final lightning strike of the evening came on a 75-yard Shiltz to WR Brandon Collins touchdown pass, capping a 99-yard drive in seven plays.

Taylor did come up with its best scoring opportunity late in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs’ defense held on fourth down at the Butler six-yard line.

“We did a much better job this week of making them line up and play another play,” noted Voris. “We went to Youngstown and they had some big plays and that was one of our emphases this week. We were pretty good in the Red Zone. We forced a field goal and we took the ball away one time, got a fourth down stop another time. We have to tip our hats to our defense.”

The Bulldogs’ coach also had to tip his hat to Shiltz, starting just his third game at Butler. The redshirt-junior quarterback rolled up 433 yards in total offense, before retiring for the night late in the third quarter. He led the Bulldogs in rushing with 86 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns, and he completed 25 of 31 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He either rushed or threw for all five of Butler’s touchdowns.

“Matt did some really, really good things,” praised Voris. “And most of his good things are in preparation. He prepares himself and studies and visualizes and practices at game speed. He does all the things you want to do to give himself a chance to succeed.”

Shiltz wasn’t the only Butler player to turn in a big night statistically. Martin-Hayes finished with a career-high ten receptions for a career-best 159 yards, while Collins added five catches for a career-high 100 yards. Freshman linebacker Ethan Brunhofer led Butler’s defense with a career-high 12 tackles.

Despite playing just three quarters, Butler finished with 455 yards in total offense. The Bulldogs limited Taylor to 252 total yards, including just one rushing yard.

Butler will continue its current homestand and begin Pioneer Football League play against the Jacksonville Dolphins on Saturday, Sept. 27. The Bulldogs’ Homecoming contest will begin at noon at the Butler Bowl.

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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