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Butler to Play Final Road Contest against Valparaiso

BUTLER (4-5, 2-4 PFL) at VALPARAISO (2-7, 0-5 PFL)
Saturday, November 8, 1 p.m. (CT)
Brown Field – Valparaiso, Ind.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs will play their final road contest of the 2014 season on Saturday (Nov. 8) against the Valparaiso Crusaders. The Pioneer Football League matchup is set to kick-off at 1 p.m. CT at Brown Field. The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-4 PFL), looking to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season; have won three straight games at Brown Field.

Valparaiso (2-7, 0-5 PFL) dropped its last outing to Dayton, 42-19, last weekend. The Crusaders trailed just 14-12 in the third quarter of that game, before Dayton took control with 28 unanswered points. Butler and Valparaiso will be continuing a series that dates back to 1927 and has been contested through four different conferences. The two teams have met on the football field 72 previous times, including every year since 1951.

Butler turned in its biggest offensive performance of the season last weekend with a 62-52 victory over Morehead State at the Butler Bowl. That game featured more than 1,100 yards combined, and the combined 114 points were a Butler single game record. The game saw 16 touchdowns by ten different players, and seven of those touchdowns covered 50 or more yards. The Bulldogs rushed for a season-high 297 yards against Morehead State.

The visiting Eagles jumped to a 20-7 lead in the first quarter, before Butler stormed back with four touchdowns in the second period to take a 35-23 halftime lead. The Butler lead grew to 62-38 in the fourth quarter, before Morehead State scored two late touchdowns. The only times Butler scored more points in a football game in the past 65 years were in games against Anderson in 1987 (64) and last year against Valparaiso (72). Butler’s 62 points against Morehead State are the most scored by a PFL team this year.

Two players who contributed significantly to Butler’s offensive explosion against Morehead State were honored with Player of the Week recognition by the PFL. Redshirt-freshman running back Sam Schrader, who scored four touchdowns in the Butler win, was chosen PFL Offensive Player of the Week, while senior wide receiver Derek O’Connor, who had a pair of TDs, was tabbed PFL Special Teams Player of the Week. Schrader rushed for a game-high 162 yards on 13 carries in the win. He had touchdown runs of 21 yards, 55 yards, four yards and 68 yards, and three of those scores came in the second quarter when the Bulldogs took control of the game. Schrader was also named National Freshman of the Week by The Sports Network for his performance against Morehead State. Schrader ranks fourth in the PFL in scoring (7.3) and seventh in rushing (62.3).

O’Connor had a touchdown reception and a punt return for a touchdown in the victory. His punt return, which helped seal the win in the fourth quarter, covered 80 yards and was the longest in the PFL this season. His return was just four yards shy of the Butler record, set by Noble York against Ball State in 1972. O’Connor was also recognized by College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) as National Punt Returner of the Week for his effort against Morehead State. O’Connor currently ranks fourth in the PFL in receptions per game (5.6) and seventh in the league in receiving yards per game (59.6). He leads the league in punt returns (11.3).

Photo: Butler Athletics/Malcolm Weaver (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Malcolm Weaver (John Fetcho)

Sophomore quarterback Malcolm Weaver, who took over for injured senior quarterback Matt Shiltz in Butler’s sixth game this season, picked up his first victory as a starter in the win over Morehead State. Weaver, making his third collegiate start, threw for one touchdown and ran for two more to help spark the Bulldogs to the home win. He finished with a career-high 84 rushing yards on six carries, including touchdown runs of 69 yards and 19 yards. He also completed 14 of 25 passes for 119 yards, including an 18-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Derek O’Connor.

Junior placekicker Jon Treloar, who was successful on eight extra-point kicks against Morehead State, became Butler’s all-time leader in PATs during the Bulldogs’ home win last weekend. Treloar tied the previous school mark of 114 PATs, held by John Jenkins (1985-88), with his sixth kick against the Eagles, and then he broke the all-time record with his seventh PAT. The left-footed kicker added his 116th PAT later in the game. Treloar ranks third in the PFL with 29 PATs this season. Treloar connected on a school-record nine PATs against Valparaiso a year ago.

Senior defensive end Bret Shannon continues to lead the Pioneer Football League in quarterback sacks with 7.5 sacks (0.83) on the year. Shannon was credited with one sack for a six-yard loss against Morehead State. It was the third straight game that he’s had at least one sack. Shannon ranks 22nd in the NCAA Division I FCS in quarterback sacks. The Bulldogs lead the PFL and rank in the “Top 30” in the nation in both quarterback sacks (2.56) and tackles for loss (8.0). Butler ranks 28th in quarterback sacks and 16th in tackles for loss.

Butler leads the PFL and ranks second in NCAA Division I FCS in both punt return defense (1.20) and kickoff return defense (15.30). The Bulldogs limited Morehead State to no punt returns and held the Eagles to an average of 10.78 yards on nine kickoff returns.

Freshman linebacker Ethan Brunhofer matched his career-high with a team-leading 12 tackles against Morehead State. He had a career-high six solo tackles in the win. Senior safety JoJo Ciancio leads the Bulldogs and ranks sixth in the PFL in tackles (7.9), third among conference defensive backs in tackles. Ciancio had 11 tackles against Morehead State. Ciancio is also tied for eighth in the PFL in interceptions (3/0.33 pg). Senior safety David Burke recorded his sixth career pass interception against Morehead State and posted his first interception return for a touchdown. The Bulldogs lead the PFL and rank ninth in the NCAA Division I FCS in rushing defense (102.6). Butler has held four straight opponents under 120 rushing yards.

Following the trip to Valparaiso, Butler will close out the regular season at home against Dayton on Saturday, Nov. 15.

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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