Butler football held off a last-ditch effort by No. 15 Fort Scott for a 10-7 home victory Saturday night at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
Grizzly defensive lineman Pereon Allen had a key third-down sack on the Greyhounds' final drive, forcing Fort Scott to kick a 53-yard field goal attempt as time expired. The kick fell short, giving No. 7 Butler (7-2 overall, 4-2 conference) its 10th straight win over Fort Scott while moving Grizzly head coach Tim Schaffner into third place all-time at Butler with 39 career wins.
Butler had a strong defensive effort for the second straight game, as the Grizzlies held Fort Scott to a season-low 171 yards of offense and recorded eight sacks. Grizzly defensive lineman Quillan Felton led the defense with three sacks, eight tackles and seven tackles for losses.
While the Grizzly offense did not produce a lot of points on the scoreboard, freshman running back Brock Sturges went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season with 111 yards on 27 carries. Sturges, who leads the NJCAA with 1,027 yards rushing, had his fourth game this year with over 100 yards rushing.
Butler's points came on its first two drives in the first quarter, beginning with a game-opening 13-play, 65-yard drive and ending with a 26-yard Jacob Abel field goal.
Samsel had three first-down passes on the drive, beginning with a 25-yard throw to JaQuay Lane on the far sideline to the Greyhound 39-yard line. Samsel then faced a pair of third downs, converting both of them with 11-yard passes to Ke'John Batiste and Jermaine Ziegler. The drive stalled at the Fort Scott 9, with Abel kicking a 26-yard field goal for Butler's first points.
Fort Scott's next drive resulted in a punt after quarterback Rayvon Bartlett Jr. fell down on 3rd-and-10 and lost 12 yards, pinning the Greyhounds at their own 22-yard line. Butler's JaQuez Durham returned the punt to the Fort Scott 33-yard line. Two plays later, Samsel hit Qualls down the left side for a 31-yard touchdown pass for a 10-0 Grizzly lead.
Butler nearly added to its lead before halftime, putting together a 10-play, 67-yard drive down to the Fort Scott 12. With under a minute remaining, Samsel was picked off by Greyhound defensive back Khyree Jackson, who returned the ball to midfield. The Hounds failed to take advantage of the field position, getting just one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
Butler held Fort Scott to just 61 total offensive yards and two first downs in the first half, as the Greyhounds punted on five of its first six drives. Fort Scott had one drive of 44 yards, which resulted in a missed field goal in the second quarter.
In the second half, Butler managed just 49 total yards on its first four drives, which ended with three punts and an interception.
Fort Scott's only score of the game came with 3:35 to play in the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by Andrew Henry, which capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive. The possession started after Greyhound defensive back Malik Putney picked off a Samsel pass at the Butler 40-yard line.
On the scoring drive, the Greyhounds converted a 4th-and-3 on a Bartlett 3-yard run just past the chains at the Butler 38, then John Oliver had a 19-yard run to the Grizzly 21. Later in the drive, quarterback Carlos Davis kept the ball on a 3rd-and-2 for an 8-yard run to the Butler 5-yard line, then Henry scored on the next play to pull the Hounds within three points.
Butler moved into Fort Scott territory on its next two drives, but was forced to punt both times. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds managed just four total yards on its next two drives, as Felton and Josh Davies had key sacks for the Grizzlies.
Butler used the ground game on its final drive as Adarius Thomas opened the possession with 22 yards on four carries. Sturges busted a 24-yard run to the Fort Scott 6-yard line, but three straight runs produced just one yard.
Facing 4th-and goal from the 5, Butler sent out the field goal unit, but elected to bring out the offense after calling a timeout. An incomplete pass to Qualls in the end zone gave the ball back to Fort Scott with no timeouts at 2:36 remaining.
Fort Scott used the legs of both Davis on Bartlett on its final drive, as the Greyhounds had five quarterback scrambles on the drive. From the Greyhound 5-yard line, Davis ran for a first down on a 10-yard run.
Bartlett would convert two 4th-and-1 plays, hitting Oliver for a 7-yard pass to the Fort Scott 31, then scramble for a 5-yard gain for a first down. Bartlett was hit late on the run, resulting in a Butler personal foul and giving the Hounds the ball at the Grizzly 40-yard line with 45 seconds left.
On 3rd-and-2 from the Grizzly 32, Butler's Pereon Allen came up with a sack of Bartlett. With time winding down, Fort Scott rushed out the field goal team for a Jonny Kilgo 53-yard attempt. Kilgo's kick was caught in the back of the end zone by Butler's Kway'Chon Chisom, who ran the ball out to the Grizzly 30 before going out of bounds.
Samsel completed 10-of-21 passes for 145 yards with two interceptions, while Qualls had a game-high six receptions and 97 yards.
Fort Scott had just 64 yards rushing on 38 attempts, while the Greyhounds finished with 107 passing yards. Greyhounds wide receiver Jon Jiles, the conference leader in both receptions (44) and receiving yards (607), was held to a season-low three catches and had just 60 yards on the night.
Butler will be on the road in Iowa for a pair of non-conference games the next two weeks. The Grizzlies will play at Ellsworth in a 4:00 p.m. contest Saturday, then travel to Council Bluffs on Saturday, Nov. 2 for a 1:00 p.m. game against Iowa Western. The Grizzlies finish the regular season at home against Garden City on Nov. 9.
NOTES: Butler improved to 54-30-2 all-time against Fort Scott. The Grizzlies have won 24 straight at home over Fort Scott and own a 45-3-1 record vs. the Greyhounds since 1979… Sturges becomes the 19th Grizzly to gain over 1,000 rushing yards in a season and the first Butler running back to achieve the feat since 2016 (Kevon Abrams; 1,116 rush yards).