The top-ranked Butler football team was stunned by Garden City on Saturday at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex, falling 25-20 to the Broncbusters in the first loss under first-year head coach Tim Schaffner.
The Grizzlies, who had climbed to the top of the NJCAA poll this week, fell behind 13-0 and never had a lead in the loss to Garden City. The Grizzlies got the ball to the Garden City 8-yard line in the closing seconds before quarterback Justice Hansen was sacked to end the game.
Butler is now 8-1 overall and is 5-1 in Jayhawk Conference play. The Grizzlies will still play for the conference title next week when Butler hosts Highland at 1:30 p.m. at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. Highland (5-3, 4-1) beat No. 4 Coffeyville 41-34 on Saturday. The Scotties are tied with Dodge City (6-2, 4-1) for second in the league standings, a half-game behind Butler.
Garden City is now 2-7 with its two wins over two of the top three teams in the conference. The Broncbusters beat Highland in the season opener before losing seven straight.
Garden City took the opening kickoff and drove the field, scoring as 265-pound defensive lineman Jeremy Faulk entered the game as a running back and plunged into the end zone from a yard out.
Butler's first offensive play of the game was a pass to Julian Burris, who fumbled the ball back to Garden City. The Broncbusters wouldn't score on the ensuing drive, but did get a touchdown in the second quarter on a 9-yard fade pass from Todd Porter to Jeff Thomas. The extra point was blocked, but Garden City led 13-0 with 7:50 left in the first half.
The Grizzlies would finally get their first score with 3:03 left in the half as Lane Brewer connected on a 27-yard field goal to make it 13-3.
Garden City punted the ball back to Butler and the Grizzlies had one more chance to score before the half. The Grizzlies drove the ball to the Garden City 17 before Justice Hansen threw an interception in the end zone.
Butler would get the ball to start the third quarter and the Grizzlies kept the ball on the ground on all six plays on the drive – all runs by Kobe McCrary that included runs of 18 and 29 yards. That set up a 7-yard McCrary touchdown run, making it a 13-10 game with 13:42 left in the third quarter.
Moments later, linebacker Tony Jones came up with a quarterback sack, stripping the ball away from Porter and giving Butler the ball. The Grizzlies had first-and-goal but a sack forced Butler to kick a field goal. Brewer's 32-yard kick tied the game with 9:39 to play in the third quarter.
Butler seemed to have the momentum, but Garden City would answer the field goal with a touchdown on a 14-yard QB keeper by Todd Porter. The two-point conversion pass attempt was intercepted, but Garden City led 19-13 with 6:30 left in the third.
Later in the third, a Butler punt seemingly pinned Garden City deep at its own 9-yard line. The Broncbusters, however, would put together a 10-play, 91-yard drive that was aided by a 46-yard pass from Porter to Lawyer Davis. Two plays later, Porter completed a 7-yard pass to Gabriel Layunda to put Garden City up 25-13 with 13:41 to play.
Butler answered that touchdown with one of its own, as Hansen threw a short pass to McKinley Johnson, who avoided several Garden City defenders on his way to a 34-yard touchdown pass. Butler was within five points with 11:03 to go.
Neither team would score from that point. Butler would start a drive at the Garden City 33 after the Broncbusters tried an ill-advised pass play in its own territory on 4th down. Butler, however, was sacked while going for it on fourth down with 6:32 to play.
Butler would get the ball back at its own 2-yard line with 2:03 to play. The Grizzlies would put together a drive that went 90 yards, getting as close as the Garden City 8-yard line. On third-and-goal, Hansen was sacked for a 9-yard loss and the game clock ran out, ending the game.
The loss to Garden City ends a 19-game winning streak over the Broncbusters, dating back to 2001. The loss is Butler's first regular-season loss as a No. 1-ranked team since losing at Highland in 2006.
Butler was led offensively by Kobe McCrary, who carried the ball 30 times for 180 yards and a touchdown. Justice Hansen completed 19 of 41 passing attempts for 190 yards with one touchdown and one interception. McKinley Johnson was the leading receiver with seven catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.