INDEPENDENCE, Kan. – The Tim Schaffner era of Butler football began with a convincing road victory as the Grizzlies handled Independence 47-12 on Thursday at Emmot Field.
The 12th-ranked Grizzlies scored on their first three possessions and led 27-0 at halftime of the season opener.
Independence received the opening kickoff but went three-and-out and was forced to punt. Butler took the ball with true freshman Colton Howell under center and methodically marched the field, going 60 yards in seven plays. The drive was capped by a 6-yard TD run by Kobe McCrary.
After another Independence punt, Butler went 40 yards in seven plays as Ra'Keim Abdul scored from three yards out to make it 14-0.
Independence mounted a long drive that stretched from the first quarter into the second. After getting first-and-goal, the Butler defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt. Sean Rodriguez blocked the kick, then scooped up the ball and ran 80 yards into the end zone to give Butler a 21-0 lead with 11:01 left in the first half.
On the ensuing possession, Butler's defense forced a punt and the Independence kicker fumbled the snap. Two plays later, Kobe McCrary rolled 10 yards into the end zone with his second touchdown of the game and the Grizzlies led 27-0 with 8:30 left in the half.
Independence would mount another long drive as the half wound down, once again getting into a first-and-goal situation. Once again, the Butler defense held as Patrick Dugan made a tackle for loss on third down and Independence threw an incomplete pass on fourth down with two second left.
Butler's only turnover came early in the third quarter and Independence took advantage, scoring its first touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Bryce Gremmel to Dwayne Smith to make it a 27-6 game.
Butler later answered with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Colton Howell to Byron Pringle to make it 34-6 in the third quarter.
Kobe McCrary scored his third touchdown, scoring from seven yards out with 13:35 to play in the game.
Independence added a second touchdown with 5:33 to play on a 1-yard QB keeper by Bryce Gremmel to make it 40-12.
Butler changed quarterbacks on its final drive of the game and Diantae Thomas led the Grizzlies on their final scoring drive of the evening, scoring on a 15-yard run up the middle to cap the scoring.
Kobe McCrary finished with 121 yards rushing on 15 carries to go along with his three touchdowns. Colton Howell completed 11-of-14 passes for 105 yards in his collegiate debut. Byron Pringle and Michael Gallup had four receptions apiece for Butler.
The defense recorded two sacks and held Independence to 210 yards - an average of 3.1 yards per play.
Butler (1-0 overall, 1-0 Jayhawk Conference) now will wait nine days for its next game, which will be its home opener against No. 3 Iowa Western at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5.