Butler football opened the 2017 regular season with a 42-14 home win over Fort Scott on Saturday at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
The Grizzlies scored 28 unanswered points and had a pair of defensive touchdowns – the first and last scores of the game, on their way to the victory over the Greyhounds.
Butler's first touchdown came on an 80-yard interception return by Will Honas in the first quarter. Fort Scott was threatening deep in Butler territory when a pass was tipped into the air. Honas caught the ball and raced unchallenged to the end zone to give Butler a 7-0 lead.
Fort Scott answered moments later with a kickoff return to the 50-yard line. Three plays later, Edward Aldred caught a short pass from quarterback Dalton Snead and shook off a defender, racing 44 yards down the sideline to tie the score with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Butler got its first offensive touchdown of the season as quarterback Chris Helbig rolled out of the pocked on a 3rd-and-12 play and fired a pass to a sliding C.J. Sims in the end zone to make it a 14-7 game with 6:56 left in the half.
Fort Scott came back by putting together a six-play, 57-yard drive, capped by a three-yard keeper by quarterback Dalton Snead to tie the game 14-14 with 5:16 left in the half.
Butler would take the lead for good with 2:47 left in the half, as quarterback Brady Rust sprinted to the right sideline and snuck inside the pylon for a 35-yard score, putting the Grizzlies ahead 21-14.
The third quarter was a defensive stalemate as neither team scored. Butler had just 68 yards of total offense, while Fort Scott had 61.
Butler broke the game open in the fourth quarter. Having been pinned deep at its own nine-yard line after a Fort Scott punt, the Grizzlies embarked on a 13-play, 91-yard drive that took 6:23 off the game clock. Chris Helbig capped the drive with a 1-yard run, following a 19-yard pass to Gerrit Prince on the previous play to put Butler up 28-14.
Butler followed with an eight-yard touchdown run by Vinnie Shabazz to make it 35-14 with 3:46 to go, then moments later got a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown from Charlie Benton with 3:19 remaining.
Offensively, Helbig completed 16-of-26 pass attempts for 188 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing six times for 13 yards. Kevon Abrams led Butler in rushing with 92 yards on 21 carries, while also catching six passes for 52 yards. Butler racked up 430 yards of total offense with a balanced attack (228 rushing, 202 passing) and held the ball for 36:15 to win the time of possession battle.
Butler's defense allowed Fort Scott just 88 yards of offense in the second half while coming up with four turnovers – three interceptions (Honas, Benton and Jadarius Byrd) and a fumble recovery by DeMario Burnett. Benton led the Grizzlies' defense with 11 tackles and one sack, while the Butler unit had four quarterback sacks.
Butler is now 1-0 on the season and 1-0 in Jayhawk Conference play. The Grizzlies have a bye next week and will be back in action on Sept. 9 at Coffeyville, which lost 50-42 to Hutchinson on Saturday.
NOTES: Butler is now 52-30-2 overall in the series against Fort Scott and have won the last eight meetings against the Greyhounds. In those eight wins, Butler has scored at least 41 points or more in each game... The Grizzlies have won 25 straight home contests vs. Fort Scott, with 23 of them coming in El Dorado (two wins came in Region VI playoffs in Andover during 2004 and 2005)... With the interception returns for touchdowns by Honas and Benton, it marked the first time since Torrell Saffold and Max Martinez had picks for scores in an Aug. 26, 2012 contest at Dodge City. Butler also had two defensive touchdowns for the first time since Oct. 1, 2014 at Highland... Honas' 80-yard interception is tied for sixth as the longest interception return in Grizzly history.