Football opens PFL play with 31-7 win at Butler

Sept. 23, 2006

Final Stats

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - After warming up with two full-scholarship opponents to open the season, the JU football team found its stride with a dominating 31-7 win over Butler, Saturday afternoon in the Pioneer Football League opener at a stormy Butler Bowl. The contest was delayed 30 minutes in the third quarter due to a lightning strike.

JU (1-2, 1-0) controlled each side of the ball and junior quarterback Chris Horton tied a program record with four touchdown passes. Butler (1-3, 0-1), which dropped its 11th consecutive PFL contest, finished with only 162 yards of total offense and 26 yards rushing on 27 carries.

"It's great to get that first win of the season but it's even better when it's a conference game on the road," said JU head coach Steve Gilbert. "Our guys did a great job of controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage while also making the big play when the opportunities were presented to us. Chris Horton made some good throws in bad conditions, the defense continued to swarm all over the field and our special teams continued to perform at a high level."

Horton led the Dolphin offense by completing 9-of-17 for 156 yards and four touchdown passes. Senior running back Jerry Brant rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries and junior Michael Jenner grabbed two catches for 24 yards and a career-high two touchdowns. Junior Nate Conner finished with 246 yards of total offense, including a season-high 64-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. On returns, Conner had a game-high 64-yard punt return and a 35-yard kickoff return.

Defensively, sophomore corner Robson Noel had a team-high eight tackles (four solo), freshman defensive end Austin Knipp had five tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack and junior defensive end Sean Heverin had five tackles and a sack.

T.J. Brown led the Bulldogs offense by completing 19-of-41 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown pass. Brian Holthaus rushed for 32 yards on 14 carries and Nate Miller led the receiving corps with eight catches for 75 yards. Defensively, Alex Davis finished with a game-high 11 tackles (six solo) and an interception.

In the first half, JU dominated with 254 yards of total offense and 102 yards net rushing while holding Butler to 95 yards of total offense and only 20 yards rushing. The Dolphin defense also held the Bulldogs without a first down until the 9:46 mark of the second quarter.

JU jumped out to an early 3-0 on the opening drive of the game when freshman kicker Donovan Curry nailed a career-high 39-yard field goal at the 10:48 mark. The Dolphin drive was sparked by a 17-yard gain by Brant and a defensive pass interference call before a personal foul set the drive back out of the red zone.

The Dolphins increased the lead to 10-0 at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter when Horton connected on a 64-yard strike to Conner. On third down and 12, Horton took the snap out of the shot gun and immediately threw a fade down the right side towards Conner. With a three step advantage, Conner caught the ball in stride and galloped into the endzone untouched.

JU pushed the lead to 17-0 on the first play of the second quarter when Horton connected with freshman receiver Sam Bell for 44 yards. The Dolphins increased the lead to 24-0 at the 11:02 mark of the second quarter when Horton hooked up with junior receiver Michael Jenner for 18 yards.

Butler made it 24-7 with nine seconds remaining in the half when Brown connected with tight end Eric Notestine for three yards on play-action. With the clock running and the Bulldogs out of timeouts, Brown spiked the ball with nine second left when North was stopped at the two-yard line. On third-down, Brown faked the hand off and rolled to the right to find Notestine alone in the endzone.

In the second half, JU pushed the lead to 31-7 at the 3:08 mark of the third quarter when Horton connected with Jenner for a six-yard touchdown. With the pass, Horton tied a program record for touchdown passes in a contest (four).

JU will continue its season long four-game road trip on Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. as the Dolphins return to Indiana to continue Pioneer Football League play against Valparaiso at Brown Field.