INDIAN TRAIL – Butler went to its bread-and-butter combination to remain undefeated in Southwestern 4A play.
Quarterback Christian Peters hit Keyon Lesane for a 15-yard touchdown pass with just three seconds left in the game as the Bulldogs answered a late Porter Ridge rally to post a 34-28 victory over the Pirates on Sept. 28.
After Butler raced out to an early 28-7 lead, Porter Ridge scored three unanswered touchdowns to tie the game at 28 with 4 minutes, 41 seconds left.
But in a span of just over four minutes, Butler drove from its own 31 to the Pirates’ 15-yard line. With 27 seconds remaining on the clock, Butler coach Brian Hales called his team’s final timeout and huddled with Peters and Lesane.
“Obviously, we had Keyon in mind,” Hales said.
And everyone knew it, too.
Porter Ridge pressured Peters out of the pocket and Lesane seemed well covered, but found a seam in the middle of the end zone where he settled and hauled in the game winner with just three seconds left.
“They covered it,” Hales said. “They did a good job defensively. Christian just kind of moved around and Keyon found a place to get open.”
Lesane finished the game with eight catches for 74 yards, and the senior rushed five times for 15 yards. Lesane said he had to step up on the Bulldogs’ final play from scrimmage.
“I was thinking, ‘I have to catch this ball because we don’t want to go to overtime,’” Lesane said. “I ran my route and I caught the ball. This is a big win, but we have a lot of mistakes to correct. We need to learn how to finish out teams.”
Peters was 16-of-29 passing for 169 yards, but no completion was bigger than the game winner to Lesane.
“I was looking for Keyon,” said Peters, who is 71-of-144 passing for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns on the year. “Things broke down and I got out of the pocket. I make my best plays coming out of the pocket and Keyon came across the field and I threw it to him.”
Butler converted twice on third down and once on fourth down on its game-winning drive. Peters picked up four yards on 4th-and-2 from the Butler 39 yard line and the senior raced 12 yards on 3rd-and-9 from the Bulldogs’ 44. Peters later hit Lesane for 13 yards on 3rd-and-4 from the Porter Ridge 28 before connecting with the game winner two plays later.
“Our kids just executed and executed,” Hales said of the last drive. “Our time management was outstanding. We are real proud of how they put it together on that drive.”
Butler also converted on fourth down early in the third quarter when Jamal Worthy went six yards on 4th-and-4 from the Butler 26. Nine plays later, Quasean Holmes scored from the eight yards out to give Butler a commanding 28-7 lead with 6:05 left in the third quarter.
“That is just having faith in these kids,” Hales said of the fourth down conversions. “We have faith in our guys that they are going to do what needs to be done to move the ball.”
Porter Ridge started its comeback late in the third period when Jaylen Coleman raced 55 yards to the end zone to cut the Butler lead to 28-14. Pirates quarterback Grayson McCall ended an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive with an 11-yard run that cut the deficit to seven, 28-21, with 7:13 left in the game. Porter Ridge then tied the game at 28-28 with 4:41 left when Coleman ended a two-play, 41-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring run.
Coleman finished with 185 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. McCall rushed 12 times for 86 yards and two scores and the senior was 3-of-8 passing for 60 yards. Butler also got a defensive score for the second consecutive week when junior Darius Law returned a Porter Ridge fumble 16 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Butler (4-2, 2-0) faces a stiff test on Oct. 5 when Myers Park visits. Myers Park (6-0, 2-0) defeated Rocky River 56-0 on Sept. 28, and the Mustangs are giving up just 5.6 points a game while scoring 50 points a game.
Hales said the Bulldogs will have to put together a solid outing to stay with the Mustangs.
“We have to get out of the penalty game,” Hales said. “We need to play a complete game. We are going to have our hands full with Myers Park. We have to come out and play for four quarters. We have to play aggressive, we can’t wait around for Myers Park to make mistakes.”
Porter Ridge plays at Independence on Oct. 5.