The Butler Bulldogs rolled into town to take on the Independence Patriots in a key Southwestern 4A Conference football game on Friday night.
This game had a lot of hype during the week as both teams entered the contest battling for top tier status in their conference standings. The Bulldogs arrived Friday night 5-3 overall, and 3-1 in the conference, while the Patriots are 4-4 overall, and 2-2 against conference opponents.
Many of the sports reporters thought Independence for the first time in a number of years was good enough to pull off the upset including this writer based off their recent 32-18 win over Porter Ridge.
In the first quarter, after taking the kick-off from their own 29 yard line, Butler would drive down to the Patriots 10 inside the red zone to only have to settle for a 28 yard field goal. The Patriots defense stiffened from some aggressive play from their linebackers.
On the kick-off, a first down from the 23 yard line, running back Davion Nelson would fumble after picking up 2 yards and the Bulldogs would recover the football. Again the Patriots defense held firm to stop their opponent. Butler committed two major penalties which set them back to the 47 yard line and were forced to punt.
On the next possession, the Patriots took over from their own 18 yard line. On a third down and 8 play, quarterback Arnold Taylor was forced from the pocket and ran for 6 yards, however, he sustained an apparent knee injury and would not be able to return to the game. The extent of his injury as of this writing is unknown, but he was carted off the field and was on crutches.
On the fourth down play, the Bulldogs would block a punt and take over on the Patriots 7 yard line. Jamal Worthy, would rumble down to the one yard line on a second down play off tackle, on third down and goal from the one yard line, the Patriots defense would come up with a big stop on Worthy. On the fourth down and a foot, John Park would punch the ball into the end zone giving the Bulldogs a 9-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Butler would score their second touchdown on a 52 yard pass play from quarterback Parish Metzger to Lamont Brooks to put the Bulldogs up 16-0 with 10:04 remaining in the first half.
On the ensuing kick-off, Patriots Shai “Wheels” Wheeler caught the kick on his own five yard line and return the ball to the Bulldogs 20 yard line were he stepped on the sideline to nullify an apparent 95 yard touchdown. Instead, he recorded a 75 yard return putting his team in excellent field position. The Butler defense held and stopped Independence on fourth down to take over on downs.
As the clock ran out at the end of the second quarter, it looked like the Patriots scored a touchdown from now quarterback Wheeler to Brian Morgan, which was ruled by officials that his knee touched the ground before he broke the plane of the end zone to keep the score 16-0.
In the third quarter, both teams defenses dominated the action and either team was able to muster a drive to put up points on the scoreboard. Butler was still leading 16-0 in this hard fought contest.
In the fourth quarter, the action picked up with both offenses starting to wear down their opponents defense. The Patriots would strike first on a third down and ten from the Bulldogs 20 yard line. Shai Wheeler dropped back looked downfield and would find Brevin Caldwell for a touchdown making the score 16-6. The two point conversion was successful when Trevor Bryan would rumble into the end zone to make it a one possession and two-point conversion ball game with 7:00 minutes remaining in the football game.
Butler wasted no time starting a 64 yard drive from their own 36 yard line. The talented running back Jamal Worthy would locate a seam and turn on his speed to carry the ball 48 yards down to the one yard line. On the next play the senior short yardage specialist John Park would take his six foot 245 pound frame and burst into the end zone to put Butler ahead 23-8 with 4:30 remaining.
The Patriots would take over after the kick-off. A screen pass to Nelson would pick up 8 yards. Then Shai Wheeler would pick-up the first down on a quarterback keeper. On the next play from scrimmage Wheeler would connect with Trevor Bryan to the 19 yard line for a nice 32 yard gainer.
Now with just 21.0 seconds remaining, a shuffle pass from Wheeler to Nelson, who would pull up and toss a touchdown pass to Brian Morgan who slipped behind the Butler defense for the final touchdown of the game. The Patriots tried the two point conversion which was good, however, a chop block penalty would nullify the two points. Ryan Howe the Independence kicker would make the extra point from field goal range with plenty of distance to make the score 23-15.
Finally, the on-sides kick went out of bounds untouched, Butler took over and ran out the clock to end the football game.
Of note based on unofficial records, Shai Wheeler had 109 yards rushing, 85 yards passing and a 75 yard kick-off return for a total all purpose yardage of 269 yards for the Patriots. While running back Jamal Worthy picked up 116 rushing yards in the football game.
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Bulldogs 9 7 0 7 23
Patriots 0 0 0 15 15