EL DORADO — Butler seemed to be announcing Sunday that Hutchinson, only four spots behind No. 1 Butler in the NJCAA football rankings, was never really a threat to the Grizzlies.
And now Butler is on to bigger and better things, as their 48-0 win in the Region VI title game at Blackmore Stadium put the Grizzlies into the national title game, the Citizens Bank Bowl in Pittsburg on Dec. 5.
Bowl representatives will announce Butler's opponent on Tuesday, presumably No. 2 Navarro after the Bulldogs beat Trinity Valley 57-22 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference title game on Sunday. Butler beat Navarro 16-10 in the season opener on Aug. 26.
"I just felt like we played really well today," Butler coach Troy Morrell said. "Our guys were really focused and driven."
The Grizzlies showed the versatility of their offense as Mettenberger passed for 382 yards and six touchdowns, pushing his season total to a school-record 31. He also had a rushing touchdown.
In Butler's 28-0 win over Hutchinson last month, the Grizzlies had 238 rushing and 87 passing yards, exposing a weakness in Hutchinson's defensive line.
Sunday, Butler picked on the Blue Dragons' secondary, with Mettenberger connecting with four receivers for touchdowns and finding a safety net in Marcus Kennard, who caught 11 passes for 204 yards. Kennard stayed close to catch quick passes near the sidelines and burned Hutchinson deep often, catching four passes of 30 yards or more.
"They stacked the box and tried to stop (running back Ben Axon)," Mettenberger said. "The holes were there and I was just glad we had enough time to throw the ball and the receivers caught it."
Hutchinson's best chance to score came on a drive that started early in the fourth quarter and ended in the final minutes, a 15-play series that got the Blue Dragons to Butler's one-yard line.
But on fourth down, Butler's defense batted down a pass to keep Hutchinson scoreless.
"That was huge," Morrell said. "That goose egg looks really good up there. For those guys to have it right on our doorstep and not being able to get in, it's a lot of credit to our defense. Especially our defensive line."
Hutchinson's most damaging mistakes came much earlier. A roughing the kicker penalty on Butler's first drive gave the Grizzlies a new set of downs near midfield, and they scored five plays later.
Blue Dragons quarterback Elliott Alford threw a first-quarter interception. Hutchinson also lost a fumble, had a punt blocked, were unable to recover a kickoff and were penalized seven times for 59 yards.
Butler didn't need the help, though. Mettenberger's career day and a performance that would be impressive for any defense except Butler's, which does it every week, give Butler a chance to win its seventh national title and sixth in 13 years.
Hutchinson (9-2) 0 0 0 0 — 0 Butler (11-0) 14 20 6 8 — 48
B—Kennard 30 pass from Mettenberger (run failed)
B—Soft 16 pass from Mettenberger (Sanders run)
B—Combes 17 pass from Mettenberger (Kennard pass from Mettenberger)
B—Axon 9 run (pass failed)
B—Mettenberger 10 run (run failed)
B—Soft 20 pass from Mettenberger (run failed)
B—Rosenstengle 12 pass from Mettenberger (Sanders run)
B—Last name 1 run (Last name kick
Rushing—Hutchinson, Womble 11-22, Pease 11-11, Campbell 3-6, Alford 8-(-22). Butler, Axon 15-40, Banner 2-7, Sanders 5-6, Mills 1-3, Kindel 2-1, Team 1-(-3), Mettenberger 10-(-11).
Passing—Hutchinson, Aldord 16-28-151-2, Pease 0-1-0-0. Butler, Mettenberger 24-31-381-0.
Receiving—Hutchinson, Patterson 7-66, Thomas 3-34, Pease 3-23, Weis 2-26, Miller 1-2. Butler, Kennard 11-202, Soft 5-69, Wrenn 2-36, Combes 2-28, Rosenstengle 2-18, Freeman 1-19, Axon 1-9.