EL DORADO — The more Robert Rawlings tried to block out the memory, the longer it lingered.
As he lined up for a potential 41-yard field goal that would lift Butler over Hutchinson for the Region VI title in the final seconds, Rawlings accepted there was no forgetting his five missed kicks just 15 days ago against the same team.
And when the ball was snapped, one thought crossed the kickers mind.
I really dont want to go into six overtimes again, Rawlings said.
This time Rawlings kick was true, splitting the uprights for the game-winning points in No. 8 Butlers 24-21 victory over No. 19 Hutchinson on Sunday at BG Veterans Sports Complex.
This time overtime was not needed, after these two teams went six extra periods on Oct. 26 with Butler prevailing 19-16.
A lot of people said we were all hype, that we didnt play anybody, said Butler defensive lineman Owen Williams said. We had to show them that we are really that good.
The winning streak against Hutchinson dates back to 1997 for Butler, which has now won 23 games in a row against the Blue Dragons. It is also the fourth straight season Butler has defeated them in the Region VI title game.
Neither side would acknowledge the streak having a mental effect on the game, but there is no denying Butler seems to have some sort of edge when the two successful programs play.
The ball bounces their way and thats what it takes, Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said. In this game, youve got to have the ball bounce your way, and it just doesnt seem to go our way in these games.
A belief that this game would be different began to thrive when Hutchinson erased a 21-7 deficit with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the latter coming with 1:51 remaining in the game when Frankie Seuer delivered an 8-yard end zone strike to Jackie Curry.
Nothing from Butlers quarterback play for the first 58 minutes of the game inspired confidence that starter Hunter Vaughn or his backup, Zeke Palmer, could successfully execute a two-minute drill.
At that point, Vaughn had completed 2 of 6 passes for 18 yards and had been pulled in favor of Palmer, who finished with two interceptions.
With the game on the line, out trotted Vaughn to start on his own 23-yard line with 1:45 left.
I felt like I needed to be out there, as a leader of this team, Vaughn said. This has been my team all year and I felt like with me in there, we could make something happen. I didnt want to be anywhere else.
The entire game the Grizzlies had relied upon Ty Suggs, who finished with 148 rushing yards and one touchdown, but now they needed Vaughn at his best.
The drama pulled the best out of Vaughn, who worked Butler to midfield then delivered a crucial 16-yard strike to Michael Glatczak on 3rd-and-9 that moved the Grizzlies to the Hutchinson 28.
We practice that 2-minute drill every day in practice, said Vaughn, who finished the drive 4-for-6 for 41 yards. Thats one of our best things when were moving the ball fast the tempo is high. When it came to the game, it wasnt a big deal.
And as doubt shrouded the mind of Rawlings, an even more sickening feeling started to creep into the sidelines of Hutchinson.
While the successful kick with 13 seconds left restored the confidence of Rawlings, it left several of Hutchinsons players devastated on the field. The close losses to Butler, one after another, have taken their toll on the Blue Dragons.
Despite the loss, Hutchinson (7-4) will play in a bowl game likely the Salt City Bowl again.
Well get them sometime, I have no doubt in my mind, Hutchinsons Taylan Ybarra said. Well get them soon.
We needed this win. We wanted this win. This is our bowl game, really. Even though it doesnt have the name, this is what we play for.
Each side had missed opportunities, as Butler committed three turnovers in the red zone and the Blue Dragons came away with zero points on two trips inside Butlers 20-yard line in the fourth quarter.
But it was Butler and Rawlings, the hero twice in 15 days, that made the final play.
We didnt make it easy on ourselves with all those turnovers in the red zone, Butler coach Troy Morrell said. It really added a lot of drama in the game. There was a lot of praying and hoping going on before that final kick, but we all had faith in Robert. That was kind of like a kickers dream.
BSuggs 54 run (Rawlings kick)
BPowell 29 pass from Carson (Rawlings kick)
HSeuer 5 run (Weese kick)
BPalmer 1 run (Rawlings kick)
HCurry 37 pass from Ybarra (Weese kick)
HCurry 8 pass from Seuer (Weese kick)
BRawlings 41 field goal
RushingHutchinson, Abbington 9-59, Ybarra 4-8, Seuer 19-1; Butler, Suggs 27-148, Carson 6-25, Team 1-(-1), Palmer 2-(-7), Vaughn 5-(-12).
PassingHutchinson, Seuer 17-27-2-184, Ybarra 2-4-0-49, Weese 0-1-1-0; Butler, Palmer 6-11-2-71, Vaughn 6-12-0-59, Carson 1-2-0-29.
ReceivingHutchinson, Curry 7-132, Soloman 5-36, Murray 3-34, Siglar 2-19, Harvey 2-12; Butler, Powell 4-60, Glatczak 2-31, Hallman 1-19, Moore 2-18, Thomas 1-16, Walker 2-9, Elliott 1-6.