Penalties and turnovers didn’t do Vandalia Butler any favors at Tecumseh on Friday night in the teams’ traditional Week 2 nonconference rivalry.
Fifteen-yarders in the second half hurt the Aviators on both sides of the ball and Tecumseh hit the game’s only big offensive play in the fourth quarter to escape with an 18-17 victory.
Butler turned a Tecumseh turnover into a 17-12 lead early in the fourth quarter when the Arrows’ Kyle Terrel muffed a punt. The Aviators recovered at the 10 and big fullback Nic Martin barreled into the end zone.
The Arrows, still trying to find their identity in their new spread offense, seemed doomed. But Terrel’s teammates redeemed his mistake. New quarterback Camren Moore, also an all-league linebacker, threw a hitch pattern to Conner Henry, who broke a tackle and outran the Aviators for a 68-yard touchdown with 6:05 left.
“Our kids played with a tremendous amount of heart,” Arrows coach Kent Massie said. “And the great thing is they’re playing for each other.”
Butler (1-1) followed with a punt, then the Arrows (2-0) ran out most of the clock before a couple of long heaves by Chandler Craine fell incomplete. Craine completed 8 of 30 for 141 yards.
“We dropped passes and didn’t throw some passes very well,” Butler coach Greg Bush said. “I felt like we were the better team, but they played better than us.”
Henry, who played quarterback in Week 1, moved to receiver to take advantage of his athletic ability. He caught 11 passes for 134 yards. Moore completed 12 of 25 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown.
“We’ve got work to do on offense,” Massie said. “But we did get better this week.”
Tecumseh trailed 9-6 at halftime, then fell behind 11-6 in the third quarter on a safety. But the Arrows bounced back to take a lead 12-11 on a 1-yard sneak by backup quarterback Matt Crain.
Butler drove 81 yards for an early second-quarter 25-yard field goal by Mark Verdes, but that was the only long sustained drive of the half as both defenses often stopped ballcarriers for no gain or short losses.
Otherwise, the offenses wouldn’t have done much in the first half without their defenses forcing turnovers. After the Arrows stopped a Butler drive at the 13, Moore fumbled the snap and Butler recovered at the Arrows’ 10. Two plays later Michael Hutchinson scored from the 2 for a 9-0 Butler lead with 5:53 left in the half. Hutchinson had 20 carries for 71 yards, and Martin had 12 for 56 yards.
Tecumseh followed with its best drive but turned the ball over on downs at the Butler 12 with 2:35 left. Butler moved the ball to midfield, but Arrows senior Ryan Sierecki sacked Butler quarterback Chandler Craine, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Butler 43.
Moore ripped off a 29-yard run on a quarterback draw to the 14. On third-and-six at the 10, Moore threw to the back corner of the end zone to 6-foot-4 receiver Donte Clark. A Butler defender grabbed Clark to prevent the touchdown for a holding penalty. Henry took a pitch on the next play and scored from the five to cut Butler’s lead to 9-6 with 14 seconds left in the half.