A 25-yard run touchdown from Kevon Abrams late in the fourth quarter lifted Butler to a 31-27 win over Independence in a matchup of top 10 teams on Saturday night at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado.
Butler trailed 27-24 before getting the ball back at midfield with 6:14 to play. Five plays later, Abrams ran up the middle of the field and into the end zone from 25 yards out, giving Butler the lead with 3:44 to play.
Butler got the first of two big defensive stops moments later when Alexander Lofton intercepted a pass at the Butler 43. Butler punted the ball back to Indy one more time, with the Pirates taking over at their own 29 with 1:25 to play.
Independence picked up two first downs, getting into Butler territory before quarterback Malik Henry was sacked on third down by Jacoby Jones. A pass on fourth down was incomplete with 21 seconds left, sealing the game.
Butler led most of the game, scoring first after an interception by Jadarius Byrd on the opening drive of the game. The turnover set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Chris Helbig to Gerrit Prince to put Butler up 7-0.
The Pirates tied the game with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Malik Henry to Markiese King to tie the game with 14:08 left in the second quarter.
Butler immediately answered back 18 seconds later with a 75-yard touchdown run by Kevon Abrams to put Butler up 14-7.
Indy tied the game at 14-all after a turnover by the Grizzlies, setting up a 10-play, 52-yard drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass from Henry to Carlos Thompson with 5:54 left in the half.
Butler took a 17-14 lead at halftime on a 44-yard field goal from Tyler Zentner as the first-half clock ran out.
Independence took its first lead of the contest with a 36-yard run by Rakeem Boyd with 2:48 left in the third quarter. Boyd's score put the Pirates up 21-17.
Butler answered with a 9-play, 83-yard scoring drive that was finished off with a 2-yard run by Isaiah Truss to retake the lead. The Grizzlies had a 61-yard touchdown called back on an unsportsmanlike conduct call, with the ball moved to the Indy 25. Five plays later, Truss ran up the middle for a score to give Butler a 24-21 lead with 14:08 to play.
Butler then blocked an Independence punt and looked to build on its lead with a field goal attempt, but the kick was blocked and returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Dorian Williams, putting the Pirates up 27-24 as the extra point kick hit the upright.
That set the stage for the final touchdown by Butler.
Abrams led Butler with a season-high 190 yards rushing on 28 carries while Truss had 16 carries for 91 yards. The Grizzlies rushed for 301 yards, which set a season-high mark.
Helbig completed 11-of-23 passes for 133 yards and an interception. C.J. Sims led Butler in receiving with two catches for 54 yards.
Butler is now 8-2 on the season and finishes Jayhawk Conference play with a 5-2 record. The Grizzlies are a half-game behind Independence, which is now 5-1 in league play. Butler must hope for a Coffeyville win over Independence next week to force a share of the league title with the Pirates. Butler, meanwhile, finishes the regular season with a 1 p.m. kickoff next Saturday at home vs Iowa Central in a non-conference game.
NOTES: Butler won its 11th straight home game against Independence and improved to 28-12-2 overall in games played in El Dorado. The Grizzlies are now 53-25-3 overall vs. the Pirates... With the win, Butler head coach Tim Schaffner tied Fayne Henson for fifth all-time in wins (24)... Abrams moved past Ronald McClendon (1,958 rushing yards, 2000-01) for ninth all-time for most career rushing yards at Butler. Abrams now has four games over 100 yards rushing and 11th in his two-year career at Butler... Sims moved into ninth all-time in receiving yards (1,068). He currently ranks fourth all-time in receptions (76)... With 301 yards rushing, Butler hit the 300-yard mark for the first time since Oct. 17, 2015 (300, at Coffeyville).