Butler football continued its mastery over ranked opponents on Saturday as the 20th-ranked Grizzlies shut out No. 17 Coffeyville 22-0 in the 2018 home opener at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
The Grizzlies (2-1 overall, 2-0 conference) won its seventh straight contest over an NJCAA-ranked team while blanking the Red Ravens for the first time since Oct. 3, 1970.
Leading just 7-0 at half on a 36-yard passing touchdown from Trae Self to Isreal Watson in the second quarter, Butler pulled away late with rushing touchdowns from running backs Ja'Kevious Vickers and Makiya Caesar in the final 4:21 of the contest.
Butler's offense moved the ball into Red Raven territory on each of its first four drives, but two punts and two red-zone turnovers kept the Grizzlies off the scoreboard. With 8;40 left in the second quarter, Butler finally broke through as Self connected on a scoring pass with Watson, who fought off a Coffeyville defender while making the catch in the end zone.
The Grizzlies would not score again until 9:18 remaining in the fourth quarter after piecing together a long 14-play, 71-yard drive that ate six minutes off the clock. Vickers opened the drive with a 28-yard run to the Grizzly 42, then Caesar had runs of 15 and 18 yards. The drive stalled at the Coffeyville 19, but Tyler Zentner booted a 37-yard field goal down the middle to give Butler a 10-0 lead.
Butler's defense played a key role in the final two touchdowns of the contest, beginning with a 65-yard interception return to the Coffeyville 20 by Tay Gowan. Two plays later, Vickers ran left up the Grizzly sideline for a 17-yard touchdown with 4:21 to play.
On the ensuing possession, Coffeyville turned the ball over on downs at its own 27-yard line. Caesar then iced the game with a 24-yard scoring touchdown up the middle for the final score.
While the Butler defense shut down the Coffeyville offense, Grizzly punter Tyler Zentner gave the hosts good field position with five of his six punts landing inside the Red Raven 10-yard line. Coffeyville moved into Butler territory just three times, but missed wide right on a 21-yard field goal on the opening drive, then turned the ball over twice.
Butler's defense also came up big on third downs as the Red Ravens had just 1-of-13 conversions.
Coffeyville's best chance to score came midway through the second quarter after Butler scored the game's first touchdown. The Ravens started at their own 25 and quickly moved past midfield after a Butler facemask penalty and an 11-yard run by Deshawn Massey.
Ravens quarterback Reece Shaw then hit Andre Thomas-Cobb for a 33-yard pass down to the Grizzly 8-yard line. On the next play, Shaw fumbled the ball and Butler defensive lineman Quillan Felton came up with the recovery.
Butler's running attack of Vickers, Caesar and Grahm Roberts helped pave the way for the victory, with each back receiving double-digit carries. Vickers led the Grizzlies with 113 yards on 15 carries, becoming the first Grizzly running back to run over 100 yards this season. Caesar added 95 rushing yards on 14 touches, while Roberts, who led Butler in rushing for its first two games, had 15 carries for 52 yards.
Next up for the Grizzlies will be a road contest on Saturday at Dodge City (2-2 overall, 0-2 conference). Dodge opened the season with a pair of conference losses to Independence and Garden City, but has won two straight with wins over Gordon's Sports Academy and Ellsworth, Iowa. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m.
NOTES: Butler has won 26 of the last 28 meetings against Coffeyville, but still trail 47-43-2 in the season series... Butler is now 56-25-5 overall in home openers... Grizzly head coach Tim Schaffner improved to 10-2 against NJCAA ranked opponents.