NEW CARLISLE — After a disappointing showing in Week 1, the Butler Aviators rebounded after a solid week of practice and came away with a dominating 49-28 win at Tecumseh on Friday.
The win evened the Aviators’ record at 1-1 on the year and earned Butler head coach John Puckett his first career win as a head coach.
“It was special in the sense that I got to share it with all these guys (coaches),” said Puckett. “It’s pretty special that I got to share it with my dad. And I love these kids. This senior class has a special place in my heart and always will. They played hard – our kids got after it tonight. When they compete like that we will have a good chance.”
After a scoreless first period, the Aviators punched it in three times in the second quarter to take a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
“The entire first quarter was played on our side of the field,” said Puckett. “It took us a bit to get our rhythm on offense. Defensively outside of one maybe one series we played much better. We tackled better, played fast, and competed our butts off in the first half.”
Tecumseh took a brief 7-0 lead with 9:25 left in the first half but Ryan Martin tied the game in a 10-yard run.
Butler took the lead for good a short time later in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Mason Motter to Ryan Wilson. Andrew Boren added the extra point for a 14-7 lead that the Aviators would never relinquish.
Jack Akers scored from a yard out with 0:17 left in the half to give Butler a 21-7 lead.
“Our offensive line really out-toughed them up front,” Puckett said. “Our running backs, both Ryan Martin and Jack Akers were fantastic. Mason (Motter) did a good job of making the right decisions most of the time on our read plays and ran the ball exceptional tonight. Our offense really controlled the game.”
Martin rushed for 107 yards on 16 carries while Motter gained 85 on the ground. Jack Akers had 57 yards on 17 carries and all three – Martin, Motter, and Akers, scored a rushing touchdown.
Motter and Alex Joynes combined to complete 14-of-23 passes for 233 yards. Bryant Johnson caught nine passes for 157 yards and a pair of scores. Connor Hendricks caught one pass for 45 yards while Martin took one pass for 10 yards and Ryan Wilson caught one for nine yards and a score.
After a long run the Arrows cut the lead to 21-14 early in the third period, but the Aviators responded with a drive that nearly ended in disaster but led to Butler extending their lead. A busted field goal attempt ended up with Alex Joynes finding Mike Masters for a touchdown pass that doubled up Tecumseh 28-14.
The Aviators extended that lead to 35-14 on a touchdown pass from Motter to Johnson.
The Arrows kept themselves in the game with a 92-yard kick return to cut the lead to 35-21, but Motter scored with his feet to extend the lead to 42-21. Motter hooked up with Johnson for another touchdown pass with just under a minute to seal the game and set the final score at 49-28.
Puckett was happy with the way his team responded after a loss in their season opener.
“The toughest team won tonight without a doubt,” he said. “We were the aggressors tonight. Outside of three special teams plays we were the toughest team. It’s not a talent team issue with us. We were the toughest team.”
It doesn’t get any easier when the Aviators host Wilmington in their home opener in Week 3. The Hurricane come into the game 1-1 after a 38-7 win over Miami Trace on Friday.
“I know they (Wilmington) are really well coached,” said Puckett. “Their head coach has won a state title at Clinton-Massie and is a very good defensive coach. They run a good scheme. That will be a bonus for them. I think they graduated a lot but they have a good quarterback and a good running back so it will be a battle.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.