EL DORADO — The Butler Grizzlies were determined not to experience another Highland upset, and they used a strong wind to ensure that.
The No. 8 Grizzlies scored 31 of their 38 points with the 25-mph southeasterly wind at their backs, and cruised to a 38-7 Region VI semifinal victory Sunday over the Scotties.
The victory avenged a 23-21 loss to Highland on Sept. 21 and sent Butler into next Sunday’s Region VI final at home against No. 19 Hutchinson, a 21-6 winner at No. 18 Dodge City.
“It was a tough one to swallow, when we lost to Highland here,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “They beat us here, and our kids did not want that to happen again.”
Morrell said there hadn’t been any major changes since the September loss.
“I don’t think there had been any changes schematically or personnel-wise,” he said. “It was a matter of being mentally focused and ready to go play.”
Freshman running back Chris Carson led a Butler running attack that piled up 254 yards on 53 carries. Carson had 146 of those yards on 19 carries, including a 10-yard scoring run. When he wasn’t heading toward the end zone, Carson’s runs frequently had the Grizzlies on the doorstep, setting up fullback Miles Thomas for two 1-yard touchdown dives.
Carson said the Grizzlies came in a little hungry.
“The first matchup we came out kind of cocky in a way,” Carson said. “This game, we had a chip on our shoulder. We had to come out and prove something because they kind of took away our chance for a national championship.”
In the earlier matchup, Highland hung tough and pulled out the victory on a touchdown with eight seconds left. Sunday, the Scotties found themselves in a 31-point hole, and the Butler defense denied them any hope of digging out.
Credit that in part to a wicked, strong wind. During one Highland second-quarter possession, punter Trey Geiger kicked the ball from his 18, and the ball went straight up and curled back, taking a Butler bounce and getting downed at the Highland 10. On the first play from scrimmage, Carson danced his way into the end zone for a 21-7 Butler lead at the half.
“That was a huge break for us, basically allowing us to have the ball on the doorstep right before half,” Morrell said.
When the fourth quarter started and Highland regained the wind, quarterback Brandon Bergeron hit running back Brandon Peters for a gain to the Scotties 46. But Bergeron was sacked for 10 and 11 yards on the next two plays, and Highland eventually had to punt.
The Grizzlies sacked Bergeron 12 times for 83 yards in losses. Sophomore Stephon Hall led Butler with three, and freshman Jamone Boyd and sophomore Owen Williams had two each.
B—Suggs 4 pass from Vaughn (Rawlings kick)
H—Jones 11 pass from Bergeron (Pasley kick)
B—Thomas 1 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Carson 10 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Vaughn 1 run (Rawlings kick)
B—Rawlings 36 FG
B—Thomas 1 run (Rawlings kick)
Rushing — Highland: Peters 10-27, McGee 1-(-1), Mitchell 5-(-1), team 2-(-2), Bergeron 15-(-2). Butler: Carson 19-146, Vaughn 14-48, Suggs 7-35, Cotton 6-21, Buehler 1-5, Hallman 1-2, Thomas 3-(-1), team 2-(-2).
Passing — Highland: Bergeron 23-32-0-240. Butler: Vaughn 12-21-0-95.
Receiving — Highland: Peters 4-44, McLellan 4-41, Jones 4-21, McAdams 3-58, Boland 3-49, Dickey 1-10, Mitchell 1-9, McGee 1-6, Sims 1-5, Moses 1-(-5). Butler: Moore 3-21, Elliott 1-24, Glatczak 1-23, Crain 1-15, Suggs 1-4, Carson 1-4, Hightower 1-3,Hallman 1-3, Cotton 1-0, Powell 1-(-2).