EL DORADO — Ryan Weese was crying at midfield after Hutchinson lost to Butler 19-16 in six overtimes Saturday, but it could have just as easily been his counterpart.
Both Weese and Butler kicker Robert Rawlings missed enough kicks to produce negative emotion, but only Weese was feeling it Saturday because Rawlings made the last one.
After eight failed field goals in the overtime periods, Rawlings converted a 21-yarder that clinched an excruciating victory, another Jayhawk Conference championship for the No. 8-ranked Grizzlies, and took the streak of consecutive Butler wins over Hutchinson to 22.
Butler coach Troy Morrell has never lost to Hutchinson, but if he had any trouble putting himself in the Blue Dragons’ shoes, all he had to do was look past midfield.
That’s where Weese was crying onto the shoulder of an apparent family member and where several other Hutchinson players stood enviously watching the revelry that takes place on the field after every Butler win.
“They’re well-coached,” Troy Morrell said. “They came to play tonight. They rallied — that backup quarterback (Frankie Seuer) was unbelievable. They gave us everything they had and we were definitely on the ropes. One of those games, though, where you had to dig deeper and find a way.”
Nearly every avenue the Grizzlies usually use to overcome opponents was cut off by Hutchinson. The Blue Dragons took the crowd out of it early by building a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and with a defense that rendered Butler one-dimensional at best.
Failures elsewhere forced Butler — and Hutchinson — to rely on the kicking game, and the results indicated that it was a last resort. When Butler scored its second touchdown of the third quarter and was in position to take the lead, Rawlings missed an extra point, matching what Weese did after Hutchinson’s second score.
Weese’s and Rawlings’ struggles only grew from there. Each had a field goal blocked late in regulation and they combined to miss nine field goals after regulation. Rawlings, though, can forget about the four he missed while Weese will likely relive his at least until he can cancel it out with a game-winner down the line.
“It was pretty hard when everyone comes up and says, ‘Get that out of your mind,’ they keep telling you,” Rawlings said. “But you’ve just got to find a way and get it out somehow and come back.”
If not for the outcome of the game essentially hanging on 12 separate kicks, the overtimes would have featured little excitement. Neither team managed a first down until the fourth extra period, ensuring that attempted game-winning field goals would be at the edge of each kicker’s range since overtime drives start at the opponent’s 25-yard line.
Morrell called it a defensive battle, which was true, but the game was defined just as much by offensive futility. After passing for 154 yards in the first half, Seuer completed five passes after halftime and an interception on the first throw of the third quarter led to Butler’s first touchdown.
Ty Suggs ran for 125 yards for Butler but 70 of them came on his game-tying touchdown in the third. Quarterback Hunter Vaughn averaged fewer than five yards per attempt, and the Grizzlies got little from the “Wildcat”-like formation it operated sporadically.
“It was a tough day for both kickers and both offenses,” Morrell said. “I was glad we were able to poke it through at the end.”
Butler’s 22nd straight win over Hutchinson tied the all-time series 44-44-1, with the tie coming during a stretch from 1958-1978 in which the Blue Dragons went undefeated. Since its last win in 1997, Hutchinson has lost all but two games against Butler by double digits.
Coming so close Saturday is what made the loss so painful, a feeling embodied by Weese and the other Blue Dragons desperately watching Butler’s celebration.
“We’ve just go to learn from it,” Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said. “We have to stay together and play the next game. Yeah, it hurts right now but it’s not the end of the world. It ain’t the end of the season. It hurts, but we’ve got to move forward together.”
Butler won on FG in sixth overtime
H—Seuer 1 run (Weese kick)
H—Soloman 40 pass from Seuer (kick failed)
B—Thomas 13 pass from Vaughn (Rawlings kick)
B—Suggs 70 run (kick failed)
H—Weese 48 FG
B—Rawlings 23 FG
B—Rawlings 21 FG
Rushing—Hutchinson, Abbington 25-91, Seuer 16-49, Blakely 10-39, Curry 2-19, Hilliard 2-1, Murray 1-1. Butler, Suggs 25-125, Carson 11-75, Oharah 2-4, Glatczak, Vaughn 5-0.
Passing—Hutchinson, Seuer 21-37-193-1. Butler, Vaughn 15-22-102-1, Suggs 2-5-22-1.
Receiving—Hutchinson, Murray 8-44, Munyan 3-36, Curry 2-19, Abbington 2-11, goodlett 2-4, Soloman 1-40, Harvey 1-27, Head 1-9, Blakely 1-3. Butler, Van Powell 3-7, Glatczak 2-28, Carson 2-25, Moore 2-15, Suggs 2-3, Thomas 1-13, Elliott 1-10, Williams 1-8, Hightower 1-7, Walker 1-5, Chavis 1-3.