The Butler football team played its first game without coach Brian Hales this season on Friday night.
Hales has been suspended with pay by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools since he was arrested on assault on a female charges on Nov. 6.
The Bulldogs were dominant on both sides of the ball in their 63-0 victory against McDowell in the first round of the 4AA playoffs.
Butler (11-1) will host three-time defending 4AA state champion Mallard Creek next Friday. The Mavericks were the only team to beat the Bulldogs this season, 35-20 on Aug. 26.
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Butler, No. 2 in the Observer Sweet 16, didn’t waste any time in dispatching McDowell (5-7), scoring on their first three drives and using only seven plays to make it 21-0 in the first quarter.
Butler senior Dirk Cureton opened the scoring on the Bulldogs’ second play from scrimmage, on a 48-yard touchdown run.
Meanwhile, Butler junior running back Nijere Peoples scored on the second play of the second drive, on a 47-yard run.
Then Peoples, who rushed for 113 yards and four touchdowns on only six carries, capped the third drive on the third play with a 4-yard touchdown run.
McDowell stopped Butler on its fourth possession, when the Bulldogs went for it on fourth down and didn’t make it.
The Bulldogs’ offense continued to dominate in the second quarter, scoring 28 points on eight plays.
The final three Butler scores of the first half came on one-play drives.
First, Keyon Lesane caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Davis Cheek, who went 8 for 11 for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
On the next possession, Butler’s Kusegi Cureton caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Cheek.
D.J. Little capped the first-half barrage with a 48-yard punt return and 49-0 lead.
While the Butler offense was efficient, the defense was even better, holding the Titans to negative-13 yards of total offense for the game.
The McDowell offense didn’t make it on the Butler side of the football field all night.
Quote: “Our kids and coaches have faced adversity before and we’ve overcome. That is our focus now. … With everything that has happened, I think our players have handled it extremely well. Our coaching staff has also stepped up, too. A lot of those guys (coaches) played here and they know all about the championship tradition that coach Hales established. We are going to continue to carry on that championship tradition on until coach Hales returns.” – Butler interim head coach/defensive coordinator Michael Nahum, on team’s response since Hales was suspended.
Records: Butler 11-1; McDowell 5-7.
Worth mentioning: Butler has outscored its opponents 546-141 this season. That’s an average score of Butler 46 to 12. … Peoples touched the ball six times, scoring four touchdowns on runs of 4, 14, 36 and 47 yards. … The Bulldogs’ defense never allowed McDowell into the game, holding the Titans to negative-31 yards rushing.
What’s next: Butler will host Mallard Creek in the second round of the playoffs next Friday night.
McDowell 0 0 0 0 - 0
Butler 21 28 7 7 - 63
B – Dirk Cureton 41-yard run (Ryan Schaar kick)
B – Nijere Peoples 47-yard run (Schaar kick)
B – Peoples 4-yard run (Schaar kick)
B – Peoples 36-yard run (Schaar kick)
B – Keyon Lesane 48-yard pass from Davis Cheek (Schaar kick)
B – Kusegi Cureton 51-yard pass from Cheek (Schaar kick)
B – D.J. Little 48-yard punt return (Schaar kick)
B – Peoples 14-yard run (Alex Harrell kick)
B – Jamal Worthy 43-yard pass from Killian Wright (Alex Harrell kick)