COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – Grizzly running back Brock Sturges rushed for a season-high 225 yards and two first-quarter touchdowns, while JaQuez Durham had a key 72-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the third quarter as #2 Butler defeated rival Coffeyville 33-13 Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Sturges keyed the running game early with two long touchdown runs of 54 and 68 yards in the opening quarter as Butler (4-0 overall, 2-0 conference) jumped out to a 13-0 lead. Both scores were the only plays on the drives, as Sturges accounted for 138 of Butler's 139 total yards in the first quarter.
Durham's return broke a 13-13 tie with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter, as the sophomore returner backpedaled to make the catch, then went down the Grizzly sideline courtesy of great blocking and dove over the goal line to give Butler the lead.
"That was the play of the game – without a doubt," said Butler head coach Tim Schaffner of Durham's touchdown return. "He's going backwards to catch it over the shoulder and you just have to cross your fingers and hope everything works out well. He makes a couple guys miss, they had some big guys on the shield, we've got some guys blocking… next thing you know, I see our guys celebrating in the end zone."
Adarius Thomas iced the game in the fourth quarter with two rushing scores – the first one capping a 9-play, 64-yard drive at the 12:14 mark to put Butler up 27-13.
With 3:41 to play, Thomas added a 30-yard touchdown up the middle to cap the scoring, as Butler scored the final 20 points of the contest.
For the fourth straight game, Butler went over the 400-yard plateau on offense and finished with a season-high 276 yards on the ground.
"The running game was big," Sturges said. "The passing game we weren't able to get flowing like we have in the past two weeks, but it was good to have me and (Adarius) being able to step up. We did a good job of picking up the offense."
Sturges credited the Grizzly offensive line and the gameplan by offensive line coach Nate Haremza.
"I wasn't surprised, just knowing that the preparation that my offensive line puts in every day of the week," said Sturges. "Coach 'H' does a good job of having them prepared for the fronts and the blitzes coming towards them. They did a good job of picking them up and I was able to follow."
Butler's first possession of the game only lasted two plays with Sturges losing two yards, then a Red Ravens Grinterception. Following the Grizzly turnover, Kway'Chon Chisom ended the ensuing Coffeyville drive with an interception at the Butler 8-yard line and had a 38-yard return.
The Grizzlies needed just one play on their next drive to reach paydirt, as Sturges broke free through up the middle of the Ravens' defense, then ran down the far sideline and cut back to avoid a tackle for the touchdown. Jacob Abel's point-after-attempt went wide right as Butler took an early 6-0 lead.
Butler went three-and-out on its next three drives, but on the Grizzlies' final possession of the quarter, Sturges exploded for his longest run of the evening – a 68-yard scoring run that saw him bounce outside near the line of scrimmage, then race down the sideline for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season.
The Red Ravens would claw back into the contest, getting a 2-yard touchdown run from running back Kyshaun Bryan early in the second quarter, but the PAT was missed. Coffeyville then tied the game with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass from E. Kleinpeter Jr. to Isaiah Taylor.
Butler would grab the momentum back later just under five minutes later on Durham's touchdown run. The Grizzlies would go on to keep the Ravens off the scoreboard for the remainder of the night and send Coffeyville to its fourth straight loss.
Steven Frank completed 14-of-26 passes for 181 yards, while George Qualls led the Grizzly receiving corps with four receptions and 50 yards. Frank threw three passes each to Jermaine Ziegler and Ke'John Batiste, who finished with 35 and 28 yards receiving, respectively.
Coffeyville managed just 265 yards against Butler's defense, which forced three turnovers – including two Chishom interceptions.
Butler will return home to host Dodge City (0-3, 0-2) in a 7:00 p.m. contest Saturday at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. The Conquistadors lost 15-8 on the road at Ellsworth on Saturday, after dropping two conference games to Independence and Garden City to open the season.
NOTES: Butler improved to 8-1 all-time against Coffeyville in games played at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Saturday's win evened the series at 22-22-1 in games played at Coffeyville. The Red Ravens still hold a lead on the overall series, 47-44-2… Coffeyville has now started the season 0-4 for just the third time in the program's history. Coffeyville dropped its first four games to open the 1938 season, but rebounded to finish 5-4. The Ravens went 1-9 during their 1970 campaign, losing the first nine games to begin the year... Sturges became the first Grizzly rusher to run for over 200 yards since Oct. 29, 2016, when Kevon Abrams ran for 219 yards against Ellsworth… Durham's punt score was the first time Butler had returned a punt for a touchdown since C.J. Sims scored a 66-yard punt return against Air Force Prep on Oct. 14, 2017.