VANDALIA – The Aviators came into the Wilmington game knew it would be challenged for two reasons – the Hurricanes are an explosive offensive team and, compounding the issue, Butler was shorthanded after internal discipline left multiple players suspended.
The Aviators gave it a valiant effort but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Hurricanes on the scoreboard in a 59-35 loss. Butler fell to 1-2 on the season.
While not directly attributing the loss to the team’s internal discipline issues, head coach Nathan Hyatt said the distraction didn’t help.
“This is what happens when one good football team plays another good football team and one of those teams has to deal with unnecessary distractions that it inflicted on itself,” said Hyatt. “I’m trying to train them for life and obviously my message didn’t get across strong enough and I think it cost us a football game Friday night. I
The game featured over 1,100 yards of offense between the two teams with the Aviators gaining 479 but surrendering 668.
“We didn’t play well on the defensive line at spots and they were able to exploit that,” said Hyatt. “But they also have three really special football players. We knew we were going to have to try to take something (they do) away but were concerned they would figure that out and they did an excellent job of that. You have to give hats off to their coaching staff.”
Butler quarterback Mason Motter threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns while the Aviators gained 131 on the ground. Logan Flatt gained 108 of those on 10 carries including one for a score.
The Aviators tied the game at 7-7 with 3:05 left in the first quarter on a 6-yard pass from Motter to Bryant Johnson. Johnson had three catches for 78 yards with a pair of touchdowns on the night.
Wilmington took a 10-7 lead into the second period, but the Aviators answered with a touchdown pass from Motter to Daiton Sharp to claim their first lead of the game at 14-7. Sharp finished the game with four catches for 95 yards – an average of 23.8 yards per reception.
After Wilmington score, the Aviators reclaimed the lead at 21-17 on a 58-yard run by Flatt. The Hurricane scored again on a touchdown pass to lead 24-21 at half.
The Hurricane added a pair of scores early in the third quarter to take a 38-21 lead.
Motter and Johnson again hooked up for a touchdown with 2:35 in the third to cut the lead to 38-27.
After allowing another Wilmington score, the Aviators capped off their scoring with a 52-yard pass from Motter to Kort Justice who had three catches for 78 yards. After a two-point conversion, the Aviators were within 10 at 45-35.
Wilmington tacked on a pair of touchdowns to set the final score.
Jack Akers led the defensive effort with nine solo tackles and three assists including a pair of sacks. Jansen Love had six solo tackles and two assists for 10 tackles and Dolen Fults had six tackles and four assists for ten total tackles.
Throughout the week leading up to the Wilmington game, Hyatt said he was concerned about the loss of key players on defense but that bigger issues were at play.
“I’m trying to train them for life and obviously my message didn’t get across strong enough and I think it cost us a football game Friday night,” said Hyatt. “But I told the team that in life with the decisions we made it could have cost us something much worse than a football game. If we get our point across and get things turned around from that then in life, losing that football game will be worth it.”
The Aviators will travel to “that team across the dam” – Northmont – for a Thursday night contest that begins at 7 p.m. The Thunderbolts (2-1) are coming off a 44-12 win over Tippecanoe in which they racked up nearly 600 yards of offense and 359 yards through the air.
“They are a really good football team,” said Hyatt. “Their quarterback is very, very good. I’ve been very impressed watching him throw the football.”
Northmont defeated Butler 35-0 last year before a packed house and the Aviators will face a stern test as they try to even their season record.
“You won’t get better as a person and you won’t get better as a football player until you’ve been pushed to the edge,” said Hyatt. “I think you would be hard pressed to find a Division III school that’s started off with the schedule we have. We are focused on getting better every day.