PIQUA — For most of the Thursday Night Lights game between Butler and Piqua, it felt that the last team who had the ball in their hands would win the game.
As it happened, that was exactly the case as the Aviators, trailing 33-27 after a late Indian touchdown, marched the ball down to the Piqua 26-yard line with plenty of time on the clock. It took a great play by Ohio State bound Ben Schmiesing to poke the ball away with just over a minute to play to preserve a 33-27 win by the home-standing Indians.
The loss left the Aviators at 3-5 overall and 1-2 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North division. Piqua remains alive in the Division III, Region 12 playoff hunt at 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the GWOC North.
“It’s a tough one,” said Butler head coach Nathan Hyatt. “We were without (Quentin) Glover tonight, then you lose Ryan Martin to a broken collarbone in the second quarter. We are kind of thin right now. We made some mistakes but have you ever been around a football game where you don’t make a mistake? I thought our kids played hard and for the most part played pretty well, too.”
The game couldn’t have started much better for the visiting Aviators. After receiving the opening kickoff, Daiton Sharp moved the ball out to the 32 for Butler’s first drive.
The Aviators methodically mixed run and pass plays to move to the Piqua 27-yard line but an Indian defensive stand forced the Aviators to turn the ball over on downs.
Butler held firm on defense, however, and a return by Sharp gave the Aviators a short field at the Piqua 27-yard line. The Aviators took quick advantage with runs of 15 and 12-yards for a 7-0 lead after a kick by Sutton Skapik.
Butler’s defense again stood tall and they forced the Indians turn turn it over on downs.
Taking over on their own 26 yard line, the Aviators used a mix of run and pass plays to move down the field. Finally the drive culminated a Motter pass completion to Bryant Johnson from 14 yards out. The extra point failed, and the Aviators led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Piqua as they Hayden Schrubb caught a pair of passes by Austin Davis, both on fourth down, to take a 14-13 lead at the half.
The Indians took the opening kickoff of the second half out to the 40-yard line and capped the drive off with a 30 yard touchdown to take a 20-13 lead.
Butler answered quickly, however.
After a kickoff return to the 42 yard line by Jake DeMoss, Flatt ran for 10 yards across midfield. Two plays later, Motter found Flatt open for an 11-yard pass. Finally, facing fourth-and-5, Motter went over the top to Johnson for his second touchdown, this time from 31 yards out.
Butler’s defense stood tall on Piqua’s next possession as the Aviators flipped field position by forcing Piqua to punt from their own 19-yard line.
Butler took over at their own 35-yard line and methodically marched down field. The drive featured a pass interference call on Piqua that saved another Johnshon touchdown and a 13-yard pass reception down to the 2-yard line by Karter Peck. Flatt ran it in on the next play and the Aviators led 27-20 with 0:09 left in the third quarter.
Piqua answered with two big-play touchdowns, one a 19-yard pass with 9:47 left and the other a 29-yard pass on fourth-and-7 from Austin Davis to Hayden Schrubb to regain the lead 33-27 with 2:13 to play.
The Aviators had their chance, however. Motter completed three straight passes to Jack Mitchell to move the ball across midfield. Another completion to Flatt moved Butler to the 37 with just under a minute left.
Motter found DeMoss on the left sideline for another nine yards but as he was going down Schmiesing punched the ball loose and recovered at the 26 to seal the win for the Indians.
“A great football player made a great football play,” said Hyatt. “I liked the way we were moving the ball and I was feeling pretty confident.”
Butler’s offense was efficient. Flatt gained 89 yards on 23 carries and Motter completed 25-of-39 passes for 248 yards. Mitchell led the receiving corps with 90 yards on nine carries. DeMoss caught five for 39 yards, Johnson had four catches for 61 yards, and Flatt had four catches for 32 yards.
Daiton Sharp was also effective with a punt return of 45 yards and five kickoff returns for 118 yards.
“Logan is a special football player,” said Hyatt. “BJ got hurt early and was really struggling. Mason played extremely well tonight. I thought the offensive staff was good tonight. The kids played great, and the offensive staff deserves credit too. “
Butler will host league leading Sidney next Friday at Butler Memorial Stadium. The Yellow Jackets go into Friday’s game versus Troy 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the GWOC North. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“It doesn’t get any easier next week,” said Hyatt. “These GWOC North teams are turning out to be pretty good football teams which is good to see because it had a run there where outside of Trotwood it wasn’t very good. We are 3-5 and I think we are a pretty decent 3-5 team.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.