Last week, Butler’s offense had to play lights out in a come-from-behind win against 4A state power Richmond County.
Friday night, it was the Bulldogs’ defense that had to step up, allowing No. 2 Butler to grind out a 21-10 victory against No. 9 Hough.
The Bulldogs held the Huskies to 61 rushing yards and 219 yards total offense, and did not give up a first down in the fourth quarter.
The defense even came up with points – a 31-yard interception return by Dirk Cureton late in the first quarter that gave Butler a lead it would never relinquish.
That took some of the pressure off the Bulldogs’ offense, which finished with 329 total yards and 18 first downs, but also turned the ball over three times.
“The offense was a little off tonight,” Butler coach Brian Hales said. “But the defense played lights out. It’s good to know that one side can pick up the other side. We’ve just got to put all three phases together for four quarters.”
Junior running back Nijere Peoples ran for a game-high 109 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, leading a Bulldogs ground game that finished with 191 yards.
His 66-yard breakaway midway through in the second quarter staked the Bulldogs to a 14-3 halftime lead, and a 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter sealed the win.
Still, the Huskies had a chance at another comeback win.
Hough cut Butler’s lead to 14-10 midway through the third quarter on Jackson Gibbs’ 19-yard TD pass to a wide-open Damon Early. Hough had good field position twice in the fourth quarter but couldn’t score.
Records: Butler 4-1, Hough 3-2.
Worth mentioning: One thing that set the Huskies back was penalties – 11 in all for 120 yards, including five 15-yard personal foul calls. That gave the Bulldogs four first downs. … Gibbs finished with 158 passing yards, completing 13 of 24 attempts with the one TD and one pick-6. … Hough running back Jarrett Nagy, who averaged just over 111 yards per game, was held to 51 yards on 21 carries. … Butler quarterback Davis Cheek finished with 137 passing yards, completing 12 of 23 attempts.
What’s next: Butler will open its Southwestern 4A schedule next Friday at Garinger; meanwhile, Hough will travel to Huntersville to face Hopewell in both teams’ MECKA 4A opener.
Quotes: “Coach Hales always tells us ‘be physical, be physical.’ That’s where the ground game came in tonight. We just had to be physical. Sometimes you’ve just got to grind it out and be physical.” – Peoples.
BUTLER 7 7 0 7 – 21
HOUGH 0 3 7 0 – 10
B—Dirk Cureton 31 interception return (Ryan Schaar kick), 1:09.
H—Zach Stearns 24 FG, 6:37.
B—Nijere Peoples 66 run (Schaar kick), 5:47.
H—Damon Early 19 pass from Jackson Gibbs (Stearns kick), 5:32.
B—Peoples 2 run (Schaar kick), 3:32.