TIPP CITY — When football teams begin two-a-day practices in the August heat, they all have one goal – to make the playoffs. Butler and Tippecanoe went into Friday’s game knowing only one of them would come out making that goal.
The Aviators put up a battle but after tying the game at 17-17 late in the third quarter the Red Devils scored the game’s last 10 points to claim a 27-17 victory.
The loss dropped Butler to 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division.
The Red Devils scored the game’s first touchdown on a 5-yard run from Cole Barhorst. Butler answered with a 29-yard scoring strike from Mason Motter to Treylann Sanders to cut the lead to 7-6.
The Aviators took their only lead at the 3:13 mark of the first quarter when Andrew Boren kicked a 27-yard field goal for a 9-7 advantage.
Tipp responded with a 24-yard kick of their own to reclaim the lead, and then extended it late in the second quarter with a 28-yard pass from Aaron Hughes to Quenten Williams to make the score 17-9.
Butler tied the game as Motter and Sanders hooked up again for an 80-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. Needing two points to tie the game, Motter found Aaron Fields in for the conversion and a 17-17 deadlock.
Tipp scored on a 4-yard run by Williams with 8:56 left and then iced the game on another field goal by Smith to set the final score.
Motter completed 10 of 24 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Logan Flatt led the Aviators in rushing with 88 yards on 13 carries. Sanders caught just two passes but made them count for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Fields caught five for 30 yards.
While facing significant injuries and adversity throughout the season, Butler football coach Nathan Hyatt often cited his team’s toughness and resiliency. Those injuries included losing their starting quarterback for the season on the first series in week two and five other starters on offense.
“When you look at the upgrade in the schedule, how tough the league was this year, I didn’t think when I took the job that there was any chance we’d have a shot at the playoffs in my first year,” said Hyatt. “Our kids and our coaches have done an outstanding job.”
“We started six kids on offense that don’t have driver’s licenses yet,” Hyatt said when referring to the youth of the football team. “Our mantra was to get better every week. Look at the progression these kids made, you can see the effort and improvement they made. It is very satisfying.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.