PITTSBURG, Kan. – For the fourth time in the past five tries, the Butler Grizzlies have finished their season with a bowl championship, this time coming from behind to defeat Trinity Valley (Texas) 21-17 in the Citizens Bank Bowl at Carnie Smith Stadium.
Butler scored the game-winning touchdown on a 4-yard run by Jasper Sanders with 2:45 to play in the game, capping an 8-play, 89-yard drive that was highlighted by a 41-yard catch-and-run by receiver Javess Blue.
The drive came when Butler needed it most. The Grizzlies had a season-high six turnovers in the game, four of which came in the second half, on four interceptions and two lost fumbles. Turnovers plagued Butler throughout the game. Trinity Valley when it intercepted a Chandler Whitmer deep in Butler territory and returned the ball just 10 yards for a touchdown.
The Grizzlies answered with a 9-play, 71-yard drive that featured a lot of passing but was capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Jasper Sanders, tying the game 7-7. Butler later took the lead on a 48-yard pass from Whitmer to Javess Blue that made the score 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Neither team would score for the remainder of the half, as Trinity Valley missed a 28-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter.
The Cardinals, however, did convert on a 45-yard field goal later in the third quarter, making the score 14-10. Early in the fourth quarter, Trinity Valley took advantage of a Butler turnover to score its first offensive touchdown on a 9-yard pass from Tucker Carter to tight end James Jackson, going ahead 17-14 with 14 minutes to play in the contest.
Butler wasn't helping its cause at that point. The Grizzlies would turn the ball on the next two possessions as well. Butler finally got the ball back with 6:15 to play and set up the winning drive.Our kids believed and they kept battling, and I'm proud of them for that," Butler coach Troy Morrell said. "It's a big-time win."
Butler finishes the year with an 11-1 record and an 11-game winning streak after an opening loss on the road at No. 1-ranked Navarro (Texas). The Grizzlies won their second straight Jayhawk Conference and Region VI championships and finish the year ranked No. 2 in the final national poll, just behind national champion East Mississippi Community College.