ELKTON — Looking to snap a three-game skid, the normally pass-happy Butler County football team took to the ground Friday, running past host Todd County Central 25-23.
Butler County (5-3, 2-2), which has thrown for more than 1,500 yards this season, ran for 227 yards, holding off a late charge to pick up the victory.
“I called all the offensive linemen up pregame and told them, ‘I’m going to ride you guys tonight,’ ” Butler County coach Ryan Emmick said. “At halftime I pulled (running back Jake Martin) to the side and said, ‘I’m going to ride you in the second half.’ That was our plan going in.”
Butler County fumbled on its first possession, setting up a 24-yard touchdown run by Todd County quarterback Bryce Shanklin on the ensuing drive.
The Bears then had a punt blocked by their own player, but Todd County (2-6, 1-2) missed a field goal to end its series.
Butler County’s offense answered with a nine-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 28-yard touchdown run from Martin to tie the score 7-7 early in the second quarter.
The defense gave the Bears the lead when Elijah Flener stepped in front of a Shanklin pass and raced 88 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead score.
“We were on a three-game skid, and our confidence has been shaken,” Emmick said. “I think anything that we could get that would give us confidence would help, and from that point on we finally woke up.”
The Rebels added a 23-yard field goal by William Fox with 1:17 left in the half after their drive was kept alive on a tripping penalty by Butler County on fourth-and-22.
Butler County got one more chance at the end of the half, marching to the Rebel 16, but Flener was intercepted in the end zone on the final play of the second quarter.
Butler County went three-and-out on the first series in the second half. Todd County took the ball back and marched to the Butler County 11, but Fox’s potential game-tying 28-yard field goal sailed wide left.
Butler County answered with a six-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 44-yard keeper by Flener to push the lead to 19-10.
Todd County answered with an eight-play, 66-yard drive to cut the deficit to 19-16 with 6:20 left in the game.
Butler County responded with a touchdown drive of its own. Flener extended the drive when he broke free from a tackle on third-and-10 and completed a 28-yard pass for a first down near midfield. Three plays later, Flener ran it around the left side, diving into the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown to make the score 25-16 with 4:15 left.
The Rebels added a touchdown on a 14-yard screen pass from Shanklin to Fox and had one final chance with the ball at the Butler County 31 and 10 seconds left. Butler County’s defense closed it out with a sack from Matt Moore on the game’s final play.
“Todd County is a much improved football team,” Emmick said. “They play hard, there is no doubt about it. That’s the kind of game you would expect. It was a pretty even match-up. We just had to line up and make a play in the fourth quarter.”
Flener finished with 107 yards rushing and 152 yards through the air, while Martin had 119 yards on the ground.
“We labeled this as a must-win game,” Flener said. “The playoffs were in jeopardy and we really wanted to get to the playoffs. It really felt good to go out there and get the win. Coach called the linemen out and they answered. We really have to give all the credit to them.”
Shanklin led the Rebels with 141 yards passing and 106 yards rushing.
Butler County will take next week off before returning to action Oct. 19, when it hosts Hancock County.
BCHS 0 13 6 6 — 25
TCCHS 7 3 0 13 — 23
TC - Bryce Shanklin 24 run (William Fox kick), 4:51
BC - Jake Martin 28 run (Kory Johnson kick), 9:53
BC - Elijah Flener 88 interception return (kick failed), 6:45
TC - Fox 23 field goal, 1:17
BC - Flener 44 run (run failed), 3:19
TC - Bronson Massey 4 run (kick failed), 6:20
BC - Flener 19 run (kick failed), 4:15
TC - Fox 14 pass from Shanklin (Colby Bicksler kick), 3:10