Butler handles Highland 41-10 with second-half surge

Butler handles Highland 41-10 with second-half surge

(photo by Ed Bailey)

HIGHLAND, Kan. – The Butler football team took advantage of two defensive touchdowns, including one that changed the momentum of the game late in the third quarter, to defeat Highland 41-10 at Kisinger Stadium on Saturday. 

An 87-yard fumble recovery and return by Kolby Fennewald set off a series of four touchdowns in a six-minute span. Butler would get two touchdown receptions by McKinley Johnson – one from 15 yards out and another from 24 yards out – and a 45-yard interception return from Bakari Triggs to cap the scoring with 11:05 to play.

That changed what was a 14-10 contest into a 41-10 decision.

"He (Fennewald) did a nice job of getting to the end zone and that did kind of ignite us," Butler coach Troy Morrell said. "That play was a huge catalyst and got us back to playing Butler football on offense and defense. Once we hit our stride, it was smooth sailing."

Neither team had scored in the first quarter with Highland taking the lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Danton Constantino to Jacquwan Stone to make it 7-0.

Butler would answer with a touchdown drive that was capped on a 5-yard pass from Damarcus Smith to Michael Gallup. The extra point kick was missed and Butler trailed 7-6.

The Grizzlies would take the lead in the second quarter when Smith was flushed from the pocket and threw a deep pass to Gallup that he caught for an 82-yard pass. Butler completed a pass from Smith to Derek Lee for the two-point conversion to give Butler a 14-7 lead. 

In the third quarter, Highland scored first, getting a field goal to get within 14-10. Later in the period, Highland was inside the Butler 20-yard line before DeAndre Mathis was hit and fumbled, setting the stage for Fennewald's touchdown and the eventual Butler victory.

"It was a good challenge," Morrell said. "This is not an easy place to play. It's a little different field than what we usually play on. We knew it would be a battle. We finished well in the second half like we wanted our guys to do."

Damarcus Smith completed 29 of 43 passes for 381 and four touchdowns. He is the first Butler quarterback to have throw for four or more touchdowns in five different games.  Michael Gallup had eight receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. McKinley Johnson had three catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Traevohn Wrench was the leading rusher with five carries for 39 yards.

Butler is now 7-3 overall and finishes Jayhawk Conference play at 5-2 in third place. The Grizzlies will close the regular season with a home game next Saturday at 1 p.m. against Ellsworth (Iowa).

"We are definitely looking forward to being back home," Morrell said. "We are anxious to get back in front of our home crowd."