EL DORADO — When Butler held just a 7-3 lead after the first quarter Sunday, it was an indication that this game against Garden City wouldn’t be the same as the last time the teams met.
In that game, on Oct. 6, the Grizzlies rolled to an 84-13 rout.
But Sunday, when one scoring door closed, another one opened, and No. 2 Butler scored 42 points in the second and third quarters to pull away and win, 58-17, in a Region VI semifinal.
Next Sunday, the Grizzlies (10-0) will try to finish off another Jayhawk Conference title when they play host to Hutchinson (8-2) at BG Products Veterans Stadium at 1:30 p.m. A win would likely give the Grizzlies a spot in the NJCAA championship game.
“We struggled in the first half with some things, but we came out of the locker room in the third quarter and played like the team we’re capable of being,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “We’ll have to come ready to play next week, no question.”
The Grizzlies were so efficient that Garden City held a 37-22 advantage in possession time.
“We got the ball to the end zone in a hurry, and our offense was right back on the sideline,” Morrell said. “I thought our defense played well. They’ve got some great athletes over there, and to hold them down is nice and something we’re going to have to do next week.”
Butler sophomore receiver Jacob Hurla again proved to be a thorn in the Broncbusters’ side. His only receptions of the day went for touchdowns of 51 and 33 yards.
“He gets loose there in the middle of the field and made plays,” Morrell said. “The great thing about it is, when he caught the ball he outran some guys.”
Hurla said he couldn’t explain his success against the Broncbusters.
“I’m definitely not a speed guy,” he said, “but it worked out. They were coming up, and I was going the other way, so it all worked out.”
The Grizzlies’ rushing game was bottled up early, but Derrick Thomas found success taking the delayed handoff from quarterback Billy Cosh. He gained 16 yards on the first play of the drive, then outran the Broncbusters’ defenders to the end zone from 45 yards out, stretching Butler’s lead to 14-3.
“Being able to spread them out a little bit, and we showed some big-play ability to get the ball into the end zone from a ways out,” Morrell said. “We’ve got some guys who are capable of carrying the load — more than one.”
Once Thomas opened it up, that paved the way for Butler to use tricks like a hook-and-ladder play. Cosh threw to Javess Blue for 8 yards, and he lateraled to Heights product Dreamius Smith, who took it 38 yards for the score.
Garden City (6-4) didn’t go away, thanks to the efforts of quarterback Nick Marshall, who passed for 205 yards and a touchdown. He also scored Garden’s other touchdown on a 7-yard run.
“He’s a hard guy to bring down,” Morrell said of Marshall. “He can do it with his feet and his arm.”
But the Grizzlies managed to used their depth and flex their muscles at the right time, getting points from unexpected sources.
Sophomore defensive end Ufomba Kamalu, all 6-foot-8 and 280 pounds of him, pressured Marshall to the point that the Garden City quarterback lost the ball, and Kamalu pounced on the ball in the end zone for another Grizzlies score.
The Broncbusters would not score after Marshall’s run in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Thomas broke off another long run, this one for 55 yards. Comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies played backups, and running back/punter Ty Suggs scored Butler’s final TD early in the fourth quarter.
However, Butler was not done scoring, as a blocked punt was recovered by Garden in its end zone, giving the Grizzlies a safety.
B—Hurla 58 pass from Cosh (Rawlings kick)
GC—FG Peterson 33
B—Thomas 45 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Hurla 33 pass from Cosh (Rawlings kick)
GC—Coleman 3 pass from Marshall (Peterson kick)
B—Smith 38 run (Rawlings kick)
GC—Marshall 7 run (Peterson kick)
B—Thomas 55 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Allen 2 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Kamalu recovers fumble in end zone (Rawlings kick)
B—Suggs 6 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Safety, Garden City recovered blocked punt in end zone
Rushing—Garden City, Tyler 17-52, Marshall 17-19, Hill 3-5, Curran 2-(-5). Butler, Thomas 7-115, Allen 11-106, Suggs 5-45, Smith 7-8, Team 2-(-3), Cosh 2-(-10).
Passing—Garden City, Marshall 18-37-205-2, Curran 2-9-0-20. Butler, Cosh 12-20-242-0, Harrison 1-4-0-11.
Receiving—Garden City: Coleman 6-55, Kelly 5-50, Silva 4-75, Hill 4-28, Garcia 1-17, A. Weber 1-4. Butler: Blue 6-84, Clarke 3-27, Hurla 2-91, Jones 1-11, Elliott 1-2, Smith 0-38.
No. 13 Hutchinson 52, Coffeyville 28 — Hutchinson quarterback Luke Barnes threw for 348 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions to lead the Blue Dragons to a win over Coffeyville in the other Region VI semifinal at Hutchinson.
H—Barnes 1 run (Mesh kick)
C—Knorr 25 pass from Derby (Bishop kick)
H—Mesh 30 FG
H—Johns 63 pass from Barnes (Mesh kick)
H—Johns 25 pass from Barnes (Mesh kick)
H—Johnson 5 pass from Barnes
H—Mooney 73 run (Mesh kick)
C—Derby 1 run (Bishop kick)
C—Do. Reed 3 pass from Derby (Bishop kick)
C—Do. Reed 27 pass from Derby (Bishop kick)
H—Stewart 17 pass from Barnes (Mesh kick)
H—Hannah 51 interception return (Mesh kick)
Rushing—Coffeyville, Allen 26-148, Derby 9-16, Jackson 2-6, Atzenweiler 4-3, Bishop 1-(-14). Hutchinson, Mooney 12-114, Lane 19-51, Barnes 4-22.
Passing—Coffeyville, Derby 21-59-392-2. Hutchinson, Barnes 28-37-348-0.
Receiving—Coffeyville, Do. Reed 13-184, Guess 5-75, Da. Reed 5-47, Allen 2-35, Berry 2-19, Denton 2-4, Knorr 1-25, Thames 1-3. Hutchinson, Stewart 9-98, Johnson 8-81, Johns 5-126, Cook 3-24, Lane 2-16, Mooney 1-3