Butler football took advantage of excellent field position, a strong running game and a staunch defense to handle Air Force Prep on Saturday by a 54-7 score.
The game was delayed by three hours due to inclement weather, kicking off at 10:00 p.m. Once the game got going, Butler took control early, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and added a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown by C.J. Sims in the second quarter. The 16th-ranked Grizzlies then scored 33 unanswered points in the second half.
Butler (5-2 overall, 3-2 conference) scored five touchdowns through the first three quarters – all on short field position, as all scoring drives did not go more than 27 yards.
Defensively, Butler held Air Force Prep to just 99 yards of total offense and 1.6 yards per play. Oddly enough, the Huskies were the last team to be limited to under 100 total yards of offense (34, Sept. 27, 2014). The Grizzlies allowed just 52 passing yards and have now had four straight games of holding the opponent to under 100 yards passing.
Butler's first scoring drive came after an Air Force Prep fumble that was recovered by Grizzly linebacker Hassan Belton at the 18-yard line. Five plays later, Kevon Abrams ran in from five yards out to put Butler up 7-0.
Butler's next drive followed a very short punt, going 24 yards followed by a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Chris Helbig that made it 14-0.
Sims then returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown with 13:47 in the second quarter, giving the Grizzlies a 21-0 lead.
Air Force Prep scored its only touchdown of the game with 3:27 before the halftime break on a 5-yard touchdown by Dymitri McKenzie.
Butler scored 19 points in the third quarter, with running back Keshaun McGaugh scoring two rushing touchdowns. An Air Force Prep punt hit one of its own blockers and went out of the back of the end zone for a Grizzly safety, then Luke Winter added a 35-yard field goal with 1:03 left in the quarter.
Brady Rust tossed two fourth-quarter touchdowns on shovel passes to cap the scoring for the Grizzlies. John Brunner scored on a pass from Rust from seven yards out to finish off an 11-play, 52-yard drive that ate 6:31 off the clock. On Butler's next drive, Larry Jones ran 43 yards for a touchdown on a Rust pass.
Rust completed just 3-for-4 passes for 60 yards and two scorers, while Steven Frank had 4-of-8 completions for 46 passing yards. McGaugh led the Grizzly ground game with 56 yards on 11 carries. Isaiah Truss added 49 yards rushing on six attempts. Brunner was Butler's top receiver with four receptions for 64 yards.
Hassan Belton led the defensive unit with nine tackles and five solos, one sack, 3.5 tackles for losses and recovered two fumbles. Butler's defense finished with a season-high 15 tackles for losses.
Butler will next play at 12th-ranked Hutchinson on Saturday. Kickoff from Gowans Stadium is at noon.
NOTES: Butler improved to 24-2-0 overall all-time vs. Air Force Prep and remains undefeated in 15 home contests against the Huskies… With two receptions, C.J. Sims now has 70 career receptions and moved past Marcus Kennard (2009-10) for fourth place all-time in Butler history… Butler's 54 points are the most scored in a game since the Grizzlies put up 70 points in a Sept. 19, 2015 contest at Fort Scott.