INDIANAPOLIS – Butler erased an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game at the Butler Bowl and went on to post a 39-35 Pioneer Football League victory over Morehead State.
The loss continued a string of heartbreaking losses for the Eagles. MSU has now held double-figure leads against Saint Francis (Pa.), Drake, Jacksonville and Butler, but dropped all four contests.
The Bulldogs improve to 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the PFL with their fifth consecutive win, while the Eagles slip to 1-6 on the campaign and 0-4 in conference action with their sixth straight defeat.
Senior quarterback Zach Lewis, who finished 26-of-43 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and just one interception, became Morehead State’s career passing yards leader in the setback.
Lewis, a Clay County High School graduate, now owns school standards for passing yards (9,122), completions (847) and touchdowns (61). All three marks were previously held by Chris Swartz, who played for MSU from 1987-90.
Sophomore Rees Macshara led the Morehead State rushing attack with 116 yards on 16 attempts, while senior Donte Sawyer paced the Eagle receivers with 92 yards on nine grabs.
Sophomore linebacker Dillion Blackburn led the MSU defense with 11 tackles, while senior defensive back Kameron Scott was credited with seven tackles and seven pass break-ups.
Butler jumped out to a 10-0 advantage less than six minutes into the contest, but Morehead State scored the game’s next three touchdowns to take a 21-10 lead with 5:46 to play before halftime.
The Eagles added to their advantage on a two-yard run by senior Kevin Thomas at the 13:09 mark of the fourth quarter, which made it 35-17, but Butler rallied for 22 unanswered points and the win.
Junior quarterback Matt Lancaster led the Butler comeback with three touchdown passes – two to sophomore wide receiver Brendan Shannon and another to freshman wide receiver Derek O’Connor.
Lancaster wrapped up the evening 31-of-53 for 296 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He also added a team-best 101 rushing yards on 15 attempts, plus one score on the ground.
Junior running back Trae Heeter, who entered the affair averaging a PFL-best 107 rushing yards, finished with 100 on 21 carries. Shannon added 14 catches, 170 receiving yards and three scores.
Butler finished with advantages of 32-23 in first downs, 296-254 in passing yards and 33:43 to 26:17 in time of possession, but Morehead State registered a 251-195 edge in rushing yards.
Both teams converted a high percentage on third down, with MSU going 10-of-19 and BU finishing 9-of-18. The Bulldogs also moved the sticks three times in four tries on fourth down.
The Eagles were penalized 10 times for 85 yards on the night. Two of those flags, one pass interference and one hold, gave Butler automatic first downs on its game-winning drive.
Morehead State will return to Jayne Stadium next Saturday for its annual homecoming game against Campbell at 1 p.m. The Eagles will play three of their final four games at home this year.