ROTARY BOWL
Saturday -- December 6, 2003 -- 2:00 p.m.
St. George, Utah

Butler Defeats Dixie for NJCAA Title

For the fourth time in their history, the Butler County Community College (Kan.) Grizzlies are the champions of the junior college football world.

The Grizzles, who finished the 2003 season with a perfect 12-0 record, overcame several turnovers and came up big on defense in the second half to beat the Dixie State College Rebels 14-10 Saturday in the Dixie Rotary Bowl in St. George, Utah. The bowl was officially sanctioned by the NJCAA as the national championship game.

The Grizzlies got off to a slow start in the first half, turning the ball over twice on fumbles, which eventually led to all 10 of Dixie State’s first half points. The Grizzlies came out of hibernation in the second half, however, particularly on the defensive side of the ball and held the Rebels scoreless the rest of the way. A second half touchdown and safety were all Butler needed to seal its fourth national championship since 1981.

“Our kids hung in there and played a heck of a game,” said Butler head coach Troy Morrell. “We’re fortunate to come out of here with a win. It was a tough game.”

“I just have to give credit to our players,” Morrell continued. “They’re the ones who hung in there through all the adversity that they’ve faced all year long. We faced it again today and they found a way to come out of that locker room (in the second half) and look like a different team.”

The Rebels came out of the blocks strong defensively in the first quarter. After drawing first blood with a 22-yard field goal mid-way through the first quarter following a fumble recovery, Dixie State defensive back Brandon Sanchez stripped the ball in stride to run for a 32-yard touchdown to put his team up 10-0 with 7:21 to play in the half.

Butler County got on the board soon thereafter behind a 55-yard kickoff return and ensuing touchdown run by running back Terry Petrie to bring the Grizzles to within four points prior to the half.

Butler’s first drive of the second half was capped with a two-yard run by quarterback Chad Wilmott, giving Butler its first lead of the game at 12-10.

The Rebels again had a chance to capitalize on what could have been a costly second half Butler fumble on the goal line, the second of that variety for Butler in the game, but failed to convert that recovery into points.

A Butler safety on a DSC punt attempt put the Grizzles up for good late in the fourth quarter. The Butler defense then slammed the door on two Dixie State drives, coming up with interceptions on both occasions to end the game.

“I’m pleased with our players,” said DSC head coach Greg Croshaw. “They absolutely hung in there and fought as hard as they could.”

The kicking game was a problem for both teams. In addition to the safety, the Rebels squandered two field goal opportunities earlier in the game. Butler missed both of its extra point tries.

The MVP of the game for Butler was quarterback Chad Wilmott, who threw for 78 yards on 9 of 21 passing and ran for one touchdown. Overall, the Grizzlies rushed for 225 yards on the day, with 143 of them coming from running back Joseph Harris.

Dixie’s MVP was defensive back Brandon Sanchez, who scored the Rebels’ only touchdown. The Rebels mustered 140 yards of total offense, all of which came in the first half. DSC quarterback Adam Madsen was held to 8 of 29 completions on 89 yards passing. Running back David Anger led the Rebels on the ground with 67 yards rushing. Dixie State finished the season with a 10-2 record.

Saturday’s meeting marked the fourth overall between the two teams in the Dixie Rotary Bowl and the third in the past five years. Today’s game also marked the second meeting between the two teams with the national championship on the line. Butler captured its third national championship in 1999 in the Dixie Rotary Bowl with a 49-35 victory over the Rebels. The two teams met in the inaugural Dixie Rotary Bowl in 1986.

For more information about the Rotary Bowl, visit www.rotarybowl.com.

 
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