Butler football kicked off the 2019 regular season in quick fashion Saturday, as the 10th-ranked Grizzlies' fast-paced offense routed No. 14 Iowa Central 42-10 at El Dorado's BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
The Grizzlies scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns for a 14-0 lead, then Butler pulled away from the Tritons by reaching the end zone on its first four possessions of the second half.
Grizzly sophomore quarterback Steven Frank completed 19-of-31 pass attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore running back Darius Timmons scored two rushing touchdowns and had a team-high 84 yards on 14 carries to pace the ground game.
"We worked on our tempo the whole fall camp and going into this game, we knew we were going to go fast," said Frank. "It was really nice to see everyone get on the ball quickly."
Butler's offense wasted no time in all six touchdown drives, with the longest scoring drive clocking in at 2:42 - resulting in a Grahm Roberts' 21-yard rushing touchdown to cap a seven-play, 79-yard drive to start the third quarter.
After both teams missed field goals in the first quarter, Butler finally snapped the scoreless tie when Frank found a wide-open Jarik Caldwell over the middle for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 12:35 remaining in the second quarter.
Two possessions later, Timmons finished off a 9-play, 52-yard drive with a 1-yard rushing score. On the drive, Butler converted a pair of third-down opportunties, while Timmons added a 16-yard run to the Iowa Central 1-yard line to set up his first touchdown of the season.
Butler had two more scoring opportunties before halftime, courtesy of good field position by an Alfahiym Walcott 30-yard interception return to the Tritons' 8-yard line. The Grizzlies advanced the ball to the 1-yard line, but a fourth-down rushing attempt was snuffed out. After an Iowa Central punt, Butler again had great field position by starting at the Tritons' 20, but kicker Taiten Winklel pushed a 35-yard field goal attempt just wide right before the break.
Iowa Central finally got on the scoreboard with a 33-yard field goal by Colin Swygman as the first half expired.
Butler continued its quick-strike offense on its opening possession following the break, as Frank connected with wide receiver George Qualls on passes of 26 and 16 yards to move into Tritons' territory. Grahm Roberts put the finishing touches on the 7-play, 79-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring run up the middle as the Grizzlies increased its lead to 21-3.
The Grizzlies regained possession at the Iowa Central 35 when Kway'Chon Chisom recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Justin Amaro. Butler would convert a key 4th-and-1 from the Tritons' 13 on a four-yard scramble by Frank, then Brock Sturges rumbled into the end zone from nine yards out for a 28-3 advantage with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Butler forced a quick three-and-out as Central punted to the 35, setting up the Grizzlies' quickest scoring drive of the evening on just one play – a 35-yard strike down the right sideline from Frank to Ke'John Batiste.
Iowa Central answered with its lone touchdown of the contest as Triton receiver Christian Ford returned the ensuing kickoff for a 97-yard score. However, Butler needed just 56 seconds to respond with another touchdown from Timmons. Frank and Lane Lunt connected on the Grizzlies' longest-play of the evening – a 72-yard pass down to the 3-yard line. Timmons then had his second rushing score on the following play for the eventual 42-10 final score.
Butler racked up 470 yards of total offense, while Iowa Central was limited to just 235 yards despite running two more offensive plays than the Grizzlies. Lunt led all receivers with 72 yards coming on his third-quarter catch. Qualls finished with three receptions for 63 yards, Batiste caught four passes for 62 yards and JaQuay Lane had a team-high five receptions for 33 yards.
On defense, linebacker Wali Sabree led the Grizzlies with seven tackles, two tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks, Both linebacker Charlie Gray and lineman Quillan Felton had six tackles each. Butler finished with 12 tackles for losses, eight quarterback hits and four sacks.
Next up for Butler will be a huge non-conference showdown as No. 6 Snow (UT) travels for its ever meeting against the Grizzlies in El Dorado. The matchup will be the first in the Butler-Snow series since 2008, when the Grizzlies won a 37-30 double-overtime thriller to clinch its sixth NJCAA National Championship and the program's second back-to-back accomplishment.