Busters' offense stagnant in loss

10/7/2013

Busters' offense stagnant in loss

Busters' offense stagnant in loss

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

The Garden City Busters used three different quarterbacks, who were a combined 16-of-42 for 139 yards against a talented Butler defense, and fell to the Grizzlies, 20-10, in a Jayhawk Conference football showdown on Saturday night at Buffalo Stadium.

The Busters racked up a season-low 199 yards, despite running 82 offensive plays and forcing seven Butler turnovers.

"Absolutely, tremendously disappointing loss," said Buster head coach Matt Miller minutes after the loss. "You can't be as anemic as we were on offense. Pitiful is another word that I'd use, and expect to win a football game, especially against a team like Butler."

The Grizzlies have dominated the KJCCC for 15 years, winning 11 conference championships and four national championships in that time. The Grizzlies also came into the game on a 17-game winning streak against the Busters. In this game, though, Butler did everything it could to lose the game.

But the stalled Buster offense was never able to cash in on the Grizzlies' mistakes.

"The defense gave us every opportunity to win that ball game," said the Busters' first-year head coach, "and we did absolutely nothing to capitalize on it."

The Grizzlies' first turnover, on their opening drive, ended up with Butler linebacker Da Von Durant sacking the Busters' freshman starting quarterback Akeem Jones in the end zone for a safety.

Butler's next turnover, on its third possession, ended with the Busters driving 41 yards for a 26-yard Tyler Peterson field goal and a 3-2 lead. That's where it would stay for the first half, despite another Butler turnover and a turnover-on-downs.

The third began with a rare big play on offense for the Busters, a 31-yard scamper up the right sideline from recent Oklahoma State commit Tyreek Hill. But the drive finished like many did in the first half, with three straight negative plays — a rush for a loss, an incomplete pass from Jones, and a sack.

The next Buster drive was another 3-and-out, their fourth of the game on nine possessions. The Busters punted and the ensuing Butler drive went 50 yards in eight plays, culminating in Scott City freshman Dalton Buehler's 1-yard surge into the end zone. Quarterback Hunter Vaughn found tight end Aden Olson to complete the 2-point conversion to put the Grizzlies ahead 10-3.

That's when Miller decided to pull an ineffective Jones, who was 9-of-19 for 71 yards, and inserted sophomore back up Jake Curran. But the result was the same.

Curran's first three drives were all 3-and-outs. So Miller went to starting safety and emergency quarterback Makail Grace early in the fourth quarter, down 13-3 after Butler added a field goal late in the third. Grace lost a quarterback battle in the preseason before switching to the defensive side of the ball. But desperate, Miller went to the freshman.

After finally picking up a first down, the Busters went backwards and faced a 4th-and-12 at the Butler 36. Down 10, the Busters had to gamble. But Grace was sacked by Durant and fumbled, which was scooped up by linebacker Nick Cook and taken back 57 yards for what appeared to be the icing of the victory, leaving the Grizzlies up 20-3.

Curran came back into the game on the next drive, but it wasn't until the waning seconds of the game before the Buster offense finally broke into the end zone. Curran found freshman Brandon Snell in the back right corner for a 12-yard score with four seconds left for a more respectable score on the board.

Curran finished 6-of-21 for 74 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Grace was 1-of-2 for one yard.

"We've got to get somebody that can give us some sort of consistency at the quarterback position," said Miller, who had missed the previous week's game at Fort Scott due to illness. "Right now, we have nobody."

Jones and the Busters did have a big opportunity late in the second to extend their 3-2 lead. Facing a 3rd-and-2 — closer to 3rd-and-1 — at Butler's 6, the Busters ran two-straight quarterback sneaks. Despite seemingly falling forward, Jones was marked short of the first down both times, turning the ball over on downs.

"Very questionable," Miller said about the spots. "I have no idea how they did not give us a first down on those two QB sneaks. But, again, you can't blame the game on the officials. But, if they do spot the ball correctly, it's a different ball game at that point in time, but that's the way it goes."

The Busters were without several key offensive weapons for long stretches during the game.

Snell and sophomore running back Mike Gerst were both knocked out early with injuries. Snell eventually returned. Gerst did not.

Freshman running back Matt McDonald broke his forearm in the middle of the second quarter. According to his Twitter, McDonald is scheduled for surgery today.

With Gerst and McDonald out of action, that left the primary running duties to Hill, who finished with 63 yards on 13 carries. Hill also had five catches for 33 yards. Snell snagged three balls for 34 yards and the score.

While the Buster offense struggled, the defense played perhaps its best game of the season, forcing the seven turnovers and holding a Grizzly offense, which had been averaging 425.2 yards and 47.4 points per game, to 271 yards and 11 points, not counting the fumble return touchdown and the safety the Butler defense scored.

With the win, Butler is now 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the KJCCC. Garden City drops to 4-2 and 2-2 with another home contest against Highland at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

The Yardstick

Butler 2 0 11 7 -- 20

Garden 3 0 0 7 -- 10

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

But--Durant safety

GC--Peterson 26 field goal

Third Quarter

But--Buehler 1 run (Vaughn pass to Olson)

But--Robert Rawlings 24 field goal

Fourth Quarter

But--Cook 57 fumble return (Rawlings kick)

GC--Snell 12 pass from Curran (Peterson kick)

------

Team Statistics

Game Stats But GC

First downs 17 16

Pass yards 133 146

Passes 11-17-1 16-42-1

Rushing 47-138 40-53

3rd down 5-of-12 1-of-18

4th down 0-of-1 3-of-6

Fumbles-lost 6-6 4-2

Penalties-yards 8-85 11-79

Punts -yards 5-210 10-335

Individual Statistics

Rushing--GC, Hill 13-63; Bean 5-31; Gerst 1-4; McDonald 5-3; Grace 3-0; Curran 5- -16; Jones 8- -32. But, Suggs 28-109; Carson 4-24; Buehler 5-8; Hightower 1-1; Glatczak 1-1; Vaughn 5- -1; Cotton 3- -4.

Passing--GC, Curran 6-21-1-1-74; Jones 9-19-0-0-71; Grace 1-2-0-0-1. But, Vaughn, 11-17-0-1-133.

Receiving--GC, Snell 3-34; Hill 5-33; Daniel 2-24; Peterson 1-22; Larry 2-16; Burchfield 2-11; Gerst 1-6. But, Walker 2-45; Elliott 2-28; Hallman 2-26; Glatczak 2-11; Oharah 1-9; Plump 1-8; Suggs 1-6.

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