IOWA FALLS, Iowa — No. 12 Butler scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns in less than a four-minute span to pull away late for a 48-19 non-conference road victory at Ellsworth on Saturday.
The Grizzlies (7-2 overall, 4-2 conference) used a balanced offensive attack while racking up a season-high 512 total yards enroute to its fourth consecutive victory.
Butler never trailed in the contest after jumping out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter. The Grizzlies opened the scoring with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Chris Helbig to Josh Wilkes on their second possession, then Isaiah Truss scored from four yards out to give Butler a two-touchdown lead.
With 4:37 left in the first half, Ellsworth quarterback Paris Chambers hit Malik Thornton on a 20-yard touchdown pass. However, Butler quickly responded just 70 seconds later as Helbig connected on a 65-yard scoring bomb to Gerrit Prince up the Panthers' sideline.
Ellsworth scored the first touchdown of the second half with a quarterback keeper by Chambers from nine yards out with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter, but the Panthers had the extra point blocked.
On Butler's next drive, backup quarterback Steven Frank managed to hit John Brunner on a 28-yard touchdown pass while Brunner had an Ellsworth defender draped over him. The Grizzlies would miss the PAT, leaving Butler still up 27-13.
Ellsworth answered right back with a 64-yard scoring drive that was capped by a Tenkendrick Robeson rushing touchdown with 2:40 left in the third quarter. However, Ellsworth's PAT attempt went wide left.
The Panthers regained possession after an interception just before the quarter ended, but Butler's defense forced a turnover on downs at their own 25-yard line.
With 10:58 to play in the fourth quarter, Frank put Butler ahead 34-19 with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle for the Grizzlies' first touchdown of the fourth quarter. Butler then padded its lead when linebacker Hassan Belton intercepted a pass and returned the ball 46 yards for a defensive score
After an Ellsworth punt, Truss scored his second touchdown with a 60-yard rushing score at the 7:29 mark for the Grizzlies' final points.
Butler's offense finished with 262 yards passing and 250 yards on the ground and outgained Ellsworth by 107 yards. Helbig completed 10-of-14 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while backup Steven Frank was just 2-of-7 for 60 passing yards and a touchdown.
Truss led the Grizzly ground game with 113 yards rushing on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Wilkes caught three passes for 92 yards, while Brunner finished with 66 receiving yards on three receptions. Prince hauled in two catches for 71 yards.
Butler returns home for a key conference matchup against No. 6 Independence (7-1, 5-0) next Saturday. The Pirates remained undefeated in Jayhawk Conference play with a 24-19 home win over No. 16 Hutchinson. Kickoff from BG Products Veterans Sports Complex is at 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: Butler picked up its first-ever victory in Iowa Falls and evened the overall series at 3-3 against Ellsworth. The Grizzlies also recorded its largest margin of victory over Ellsworth with the 29-point win... Butler's previous season-high in total offensive yardage came back on Sept. 9 in a 35-32 loss in Coffeyville. The Grizzlies gained 493 yards in the defeat... Butler went over the 200-yard rushing mark as a team for the second time this season. The Grizzlies gained 234 yards rushing in the Aug. 26 season-opening win over Fort Scott... Grizzly head coach Tim Schaffner picked up his 23th victory and is one win away from tying Fayne Henson (1978-81) for fifth place all-time in wins at Butler.