EL DORADO, Kan. – The Butler football team clinched its fourth straight Region VI Championship in dramatic fashion as Robert Rawlings hit a 41-yard game-winning field goal with 13 seconds left to lift the Grizzlies to a 24-21 win over rival Hutchinson.
The win is the 23rd straight over Hutchinson dating back to 1998 and the second in the past 15 days. This one was just as dramatic as the one two weeks ago. In that game, Butler defeated Hutchinson 19-16 in six overtimes with a field goal from Rawlings. The sophomore from Wichita provided the winning points again on Sunday, this time in regulation.
Butler, now 9-1 on the season, successfully defends both its conference and region championships. The Grizzlies, ranked sixth nationally, will await a bowl bid. An official announcement will be made sometime early in the coming week. Hutchinson, ranked 18th, will play in the Salt City Bowl, which it hosts. An opponent has not been named.
In the first half, Butler didn't look as if it would need late-game dramatics. Unlike the last game, when Butler fell behind 13-0, the Grizzlies would score first on Sunday when Ty Suggs broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and then raced 54 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 just five minutes into the game.
Hutchinson scored its first touchdown when quarterback Frankie Seuer ran in from six yards with 10:28 left in the first half to make it 14-7. Butler would answer with a quarterback keeper of its own when Zeke Palmer crashed in from a yard out to put the Grizzlies up 21-7.
The second half was an exchange of turnovers between the two teams. Butler was inside the Hutch 20 on three different occasions in the second half, but two interceptions and an interception kept Butler from scoring.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson would get a pair of touchdown receptions from Jackie Curry. The first was a 37-yarder with 14:30 to go in the game and the second was an 8-yard reception with 1:51 to play in the game.
Butler's offense was unfazed. A pair of runs picked up a first down, then a pair of receptions by Michael Glatczak put the ball well into Hutchinson territory. The Grizzlies had one last pass from Hunter Vaughn to Van Powell to stop the clock with 18 seconds to go at the Hutchinson 24-yard line.
Rawlings and the field goal team ran on to the field to get the kick off. Hutchinson would call timeout to try to ice Rawlings, but the move didn't pay off. The kick, which was into the teeth of a 15 mph wind, fluttered just over the crossbar for the winning score. The 41-yarder is a career best for the sophomore.
Ty Suggs carried the load for the Butler offense throughout the game, running 27 times for 148 yards. It is his fourth career game with more than 100 yards, the third this year and second in the past three weeks for the sophomore from Manhattan.
Zeke Palmer and Hunter Vaughn split time at quarterback, each completing six passes, neither with a touchdown pass. Chris Carson had 25 yards rushing and 29 yards passing for the Grizzlies.