Audio Highlights: GCCC vs. Butler Highlights
Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-When Matt Miller looks back at the game film on this one, he’ll notice that his team had more than its fair share of opportunities to not only win, but possibly blow out the five-time national champs.
Despite forcing seven Butler turnovers, and controlling the clock for most of the first half, Garden City could only muster 215 yards of total offense in a 20-10 loss to 15th-ranked Butler at Buffalo Stadium on Saturday night.
The bigger issue: Who will be taking snaps next week against Highland.
“The quarterback position is an extreme, extreme question mark right now,” Miller said after the game. “It has to improve because we’ve lost two games that very easily could be victories, and we could be sitting on top of this conference.”
Miller used three different signal callers, including freshman Makail Grace.
“In all fairness, Grace hasn’t gotten enough reps in practice to be evaluated,” Miller said. “At that point, we were just trying to make something happen.”
Unfortunately for Grace, he fared no better than the two previous guys-Akeem Jones and Jake Curran.
Jones day started out a bit inauspiciously. On a third and 34 from his own 12-yard line early in the opening quarter, the true freshman was sacked in the end zone by University of Alabama transfer Tyler Hayes for a safety-putting the Grizzlies up 2-0.
Jones, who finished the game 9-of-22 for 70 yards, seemed like he was out of rhythm all night. That was fairly evident after the Busters got the ball back when Michael Glatzcak muffed a punt at midfield.
After the Busters moved the ball inside the Butler ten, Jones missed an open receiver in the end zone on third down and instead checked it down to Tyreek Hill. Hill would end up losing a yard when backup linebacker Dominick White tracked him down and dropped him behind the line. Tyler Peterson, the national special teams player of the week would salvage the drive with a 27-yard field to put the Busters in front 3-2 with 2:21 to play in the first.
The problem: Threes and not sevens won’t get it done against Troy Morrell’s team; even when it appeared the Grizzlies were handing this one over to Garden City.
Despite three first-half giveaways, Butler had a chance to take the lead midway through the second quarter. But on fourth and goal at the Buster one, Ty Suggs was stuffed for a two-yard loss-giving the ball back to Garden City at the three.
Later in the quarter-the Grizzlies got a little redemption of their own when Jones was failed to pick up a first down on back-to-back quarterback sneaks-handing the ball back over to Butler at the 5-yard line.
All the offense that was projected in this game and the half ended with Garden City leading 3-2; go figure.
Whatever was ailing Miller’s offense in the first half, wasn’t remedied in the third quarter. In fact, the Busters picked up just one first down in the period, prompting a quarterback change: Curran for Jones.
While Garden City’s offense was trying to get their legs underneath them, Butler finally got their’s on track.
With 8:30 remaining in the third quarter and starting at midfield-it would take the Grizzlies eight plays for Scott City’s own Dalton Buehler to burst in from a yard out-pushing Butler into the lead 8-3. On the next play, Vaughn hit Aden Olsen in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion making it touchdown advantage with just over 20 minutes to go in the game.
Butler (5-1, 4-1) would extend the lead to 13-3 when Robert Rawlings capped off a ten-play, 47-yard drive with a 25-yard field goal at the one-minute mark of the third.
Looking for some sort of a spark in the fourth, Miller replaced Curran with Grace. But that flame the Busters so desperately coveted was never ignited. On third and long, the freshman coughed up the ball and watched linebacker Nic Cook return it 64 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The ensuing extra point made it 20-3 Butler with 9:20 to go in the game.
Curran was reinserted into the game following the turnover, but gave the ball back to the Grizzlies when the sophomore’s fourth-down pass from the Butler 9-yard line was picked off by Hayes, who returned it all the way to the Buster five-yard line. On the play-Curran never had a chance because of the defensive pressure.
“When you don’t block anybody, it will make any defense look great,” Miller said. “Being the leader of this offense, I couldn’t be more ashamed of this performance.”
Garden City would add a late score when Curran hit Brandon Snell, the nation’s second-leading receiver, for an 11-yard score.
The challenge doesn’t get any easier next week with high-powered Highland coming to town.
“Highland has done a real-nice job,” Miller said. “It will definitely be a tough contest for us, and we have to improve dramatically.”
Notes: The win was the 18th straight victory for Butler over Garden City. The Busters haven’t beaten the Grizzlies since 2001…Wide Receiver Brandon Snell was knocked out of the game in the second half with an ankle injury but returned to catch Garden City’s lone touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter…Running Back Mike Gerst left the game in the first half with an apparent head injury and never returned…Running Back Matt McDonald also left the game in the second half nursing what looked like a shoulder injury…Garden City was just 1-for-20 on third down conversions.
Next up: Highland (4-3, 3-2) at Garden City (4-2, 2-2); Saturday October 12-AM 1030 KBUF and westernkansasnews.com beginning at 6:30 p.m.