COFFEYVILLE — A comeback bid fell short for Butler football Saturday evening as rival Coffeyville held on for a 35-32 win at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Despite outgaining the Red Ravens by a 485-190 margin on offense, the 18th-ranked Grizzlies (1-1 overall, 1-1 conference) were plagued by three Coffeyville defensive touchdowns in the loss.
Coffeyville jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 9:08 left in the opening quarter as Marcus Scott picked up a fumble and returned it nine yards for the touchdown.
After Coffeyville went back in front on a 26-yard scoring toss to Derrick Wiggins, Butler moved into the red zone on a reverse pitch to Myron Mitchell on the ensuing kickoff. Mitchell ran down the Ravens’ sideline 90 yards before stepping out of bounds at the 5-yard line. Four plays later, Helbig hit a leaping Gerrit Prince on a 3-yard touchdown.
Butler made a key 4th-and-1 stop on Coffeyville’s next drive, as the defense stopped Ravens quarterback Jack Diamond on a sneak and took over possession at Coffeyville’s 39-yard line. The Grizzlies then put together a quick five-play drive that ended with a 22-yard pass from Helbig to Mitchell to give Butler a 21-14 lead with 12:41 before halftime.
Two possessions later, Butler was pinned at the Ravens’ 1-yard line following a Cooper Lee 60-yard punt. On the second play of the drive, Helbig was picked off by Javon Burse, who easily ran for an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21-all.
Coffeyville’s longest offensive drive of the game put the hosts up 28-21 near the end of the first half, as the Ravens capped a seven-play, 58-yard drive with a 24-yard pass from Diamond to Kaigen Rogo with 1:37 left in the half.
Butler cut the lead to four on a Luke Winter 32-yard field goal at the 10:55 mark of the third quarter, which was set up by an Abrams’ 66-yard run to the Coffeyville 14.
The Grizzlies moved the ball into Ravens’ territory on the next drive, but Helbig had the ball stripped by Scott near the Butler sideline on a quarterback keeper. Scott then raced 58 yards to the end zone for his second defensive touchdown of the contest.
Down 35-24, Butler eventually responded three possessions later with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to cut the deficit to three with 8:19 remaining. Prince snagged a Helbig pass in the left corner of the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown, then caught a jump pass from Helbig on the two-point conversion. Helbig completed nine passes on the drive, including five straight to begin the possession.
With 2:55 left and Butler starting from the Coffeyville 13-yard line, the Grizzlies’ final drive of the contest looked promising. Abrams gained a first down on a 10-yard run, then Mitchell followed with a 12-yard reception from Helbig at the Ravens’ 35. However, Butler gained only five more yards and threw three incomplete passes – with the final attempt going to Prince, who went to the ground on contact during the play, but no flag was thrown.
Abrams finished with 130 yards rushing on nine attempts, while Sims led Butler by hauling in six catches for 111 yards and one touchdown. Helbig completed 25-of-44 passes for 305 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Butler had 10 different receivers catch passes in the contest.
Defensively, Will Honas had 10 tackles (eight solo), one sack and two tackles for losses. Charlie Belton added eight tackles with five solos and two tackles for losses. Butler’s defense had 11 total tackles for losses and limited Coffeyville’s ground game to just 70 net yards on 41 attempts.
Butler will host No. 7 Iowa Western (3-0) next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. The Reivers, who have all three wins against Jayhawk Conference schools, defeated Fort Scott 63-6 in Council Bluffs on Saturday.
NOTES: Coffeyville leads the series 47-42-2 over Butler. After snapping a 23-game losing streak against Butler in 2014, the Ravens have won two of the last four meetings with the Grizzlies… The loss was the Grizzlies’ first defeat to Coffeyville on the road since 1997. Butler had won eight straight road games against the Ravens, including the first seven games at Veterans Memorial Stadium… Coffeyville’s Jeff Leiker picked up his first win over Butler in 13 games. Leiker took over head coaching duties earlier this week from former Butler offensive coordinator Aaron Flores, who is awaiting a double-lung transplant. Leiker is 5-13 all-time against Butler, including a four-year head coaching stint at Garden City (1992-95) and seven years at Coffeyville (2001-07). A former Butler football assistant from 1989 to 1991, Leiker also serves as the Ravens’ athletic director.