The Butler football team failed to score 40 or more points for the first time this season – but not by much.
No. 4-ranked Butler beat Air Force Prep 39-0 at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex on Saturday night, staying undefeated at 5-0. The win, coupled with a loss by No. 2 Nassau (NY) on Saturday, could move the Grizzlies to a top-three spot in the national polls this week.
Butler started quickly, driving the field on its first possession and getting a 26-yard field goal from Lane Brewer to take a 3-0.
The Grizzlies then faltered on their next drive and were forced to punt. Air Force Prep took advantage, driving deep into Butler territory before their drive stalled. The Huskies lined up to kick a 37-yard field goal but the kick was partially blocked by DeSean Washington and picked up by Aaron Peak at the 8-yard line. He was escorted by a wall of Butler blockers down the sideline for a 92-yard touchdown run. The Grizzlies missed the extra point, but led 9-0 on the final play of the first quarter.
It is the fifth non-offensive touchdown of the year for the Grizzlies, including their third return of a blocked field goal for a score. Butler also did so in road games at Independence and Hutchinson.
Air Force Prep was held to a three-and-out on its next possession and Butler took over at its own 30 after the punt. On the first play of the drive, Kobe McCrary blasted through the line and raced 70 yards up the middle of the field for a touchdown. Another PAT kick was missed, but the Grizzlies led 15-0 with 12:07 left in the half.
Butler would get another field goal from Lane Brewer, this one from 21 yards out, to make it 18-0 with 30 seconds left in the half and took that lead into intermission.
The Grizzlies got the ball to start the second half and a 53-yard kickoff return by McKinley Johnson set Butler up at the Air Force Prep 37-yard line. Butler ran the ball five straight times, four by Kobe McCrary. He capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run that made it a 25-0 game with 13:15 to play in the third quarter.
Air Force Prep had one of its best drives of the game following that touchdown, as the Huskies got into the red zone at the Butler 7. A pass into the end zone was intercepted by Sean Rodriguez, who returned it 23 yards.
Early in the fourth quarter, Butler stopped another Air Force Prep threat as Aaron Peak made a tackle for loss on a fourth down play.
Butler got the ball back and drove the field, keyed by a 51-yard run by Ra’Keim Abdul. Kobe McCrary finished the drive with his third touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run that made it a 32-0 Butler lead with 9:37 to go.
The final score of the contest came with 6:37 to play as Ra’Keim Abdul broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run.
Kobe McCrary led Butler with 15 carries for a season-high 134 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 12 touchdowns on the season, which ranks him atop the NJCAA leaderboard in that category.
Butler is now 5-0 for the first time since the 2012 season. The Grizzlies will be at home for the second leg of a three-game home stand next Saturday when they face Iowa Central for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.