COFFEYVILLE — Each time Butler Community College defensive end Cornelius Carradine hit Coffeyville quarterback Cayden Cochran on Saturday night, he had something to say, although it wasn’t trash talk like you might think.
“I was encouraging him,” Carradine said. “I was telling him what a good job he was doing.”
They ended up talking quite a bit.
Carradine, rated as the No. 2 junior-college prospect in the country by several recruiting services, piled up 10 tackles, including three sacks, and returned a Cochran fumble for a touchdown to lead the topranked Grizzlies to a 38-26 win over No. 3 Coffeyville in front of 5,500 fans.
“Cornelius is a differencemaker, his work ethic is what sets him apart,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “In my mind, he’s the best junior-college player in the country.”
The win improved the Grizzlies to 8-0 and set up a showdown with No. 2 Hutchinson next Saturday in El Dorado. The Blue Dragons defeated Garden City 27-3 on Saturday.
“Let’s get ready for Hutch, that’s what I’m thinking,” Carradine said. “If we see Coffeyville again in the playoffs, fine.”
Coffeyville led 12-0 in the first half after scoring off two Butler turnovers and a muffed punt snap that gave the Red Ravens the ball back at the Butler 3-yard line.
Butler stormed back with 19 points in the second quarter, scoring on back-to-back touchdown passes from Zach Mettenberger to Brett Soft and Marcus Kennard.
“Our defense was keeping us in the game at that point,” Kennard said. “With our offense struggling, they really made sure that the game didn’t get away from us.”
The defense wasn’t done.
With just over three minutes to play in the first half, Butler’s Victor Daniels blindsided Cochran on a cornerback blitz, forcing a fumble that Carradine scooped up and returned 39 yards for a touchdown and a 19-12 lead at halftime.
After both teams traded punts for the majority of the third quarter, Mettenberger hooked up with Kennard for an 8-yard touchdown and a 25-12 lead with 4:38 left in the third.
Coffeyville managed to get within one score two more times, but each time Butler answered with another touchdown.
Mettenberger finished 12 of 22 for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Cochran passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two costly interceptions.
Kennard led all players with five catches for 100 yards and Butler running back Ben Axon carried the ball 32 times for 118 yards. The Butler defense held Coffeyville to minus-17 yards rushing.
“I feel like we’re still the second-best team in the country after tonight,” Coffeyville coach Darian Dulin said. “But we just have to hope we get a chance to play Butler again in the playoffs. Our season’s not over yet.”