William Johnson rushed for four second-half touchdowns in 28-24
William Johnson rushed for four second-half touchdowns to lead visiting Butler to a thrilling 28-24 victory over Pleasure Ridge Park Friday in a Class 6-A District 3 showdown. The Bears had to make a defensive stand inside their own 15-yard line in the game’s final minute to preserve the victory.
“A lot of people didn’t give these guys a chance,” said Butler head coach Gary Wheeler of the Bears (5-2, 2-0). “This is for the community of Shively.”
Pleasure Ridge Park (4-4, 1-1) led 18-3 at halftime and 24-9 midway through the third quarter, but the Panthers just couldn’t corral Johnson, who scored on runs of 32, 7, 15 and 1 yards to bring the Bears back.
“He has come a long way from his freshman year to his senior year,” said Wheeler of Johnson. “He came in as a kid and he’s going to leave Butler High School a man.”
The Bears wasted no time setting the tone for the second half. Behind Johnson’s running and two completions from quarterback Jared French to Demondre Blanks, Butler marched 70 yards in 1:41 to make it 18-9.
PRP answered with what looked like the decisive touchdown when Dru Duckworth scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to push the lead back to 24-9 with 5:45 left in the third quarter.
But Johnson broke open a 44-yard run on the next possession, and his 6-yard scamper brought the Bears back to within nine points at 24-15.
That’s when Blanks made perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game, recovering a fumble on the PRP 40 on the Panthers’ next drive.
Again, the Bears fed their workhorse, and Johnson delivered with 38 yards, including the last 15 on his third score of the game, to cut it to 24-22.
The Panthers mishandled the kickoff and had to start at their own 3, which led to them punting and giving the Bears the ball at the PRP 46. On the final drive Johnson carried five times for 27 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown from 1 yard out with 2:59 left.
PRP marched quickly down the field, setting up a first down at the Butler 13 with 1:30 left. But the Bears stuffed three rushing attempts. Then and a pass from Duckworth to Walker fell harmlessly, and the visitors had their signature victory.
“We had all of Shively with us on that last play,” said Wheeler.
In the first half Butler forced a fumble on PRP’s opening drive, then took a 3-0 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first quarter on a 22-yard Zachary Adamec field goal.
PRP’s offense was struggling, so in stepped the special teams to get the Panthers on the board. Punter Gavin Logsdon pinned the Bears on their 1 with a 58-yard punt. Four plays later it paid off as the snap from center was mishandled by French at the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety. PRP then took over at midfield on the resulting kickoff, and the Panthers struck quickly with Malik Walker taking the snap and running it in from the 11 for an 8-3 lead. He pulled off the jump pass to Garrett Lawrence for the two-point conversion and PRP led by seven, 10-3, with 5:24 left in the half.
The Panthers scored late in the half using the big play. Gains of 32, 21 and 16 yards set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Delvon Dunn, and Walker ran in the two-point conversion for an 18-3 halftime lead.
Butler 3 0 12 13 — 28
PRP 0 18 6 0 — 24
First Downs 14 18
Rushes-yards 41-208 38-216
Passing yards 57 127
Passing 7-15-0 11-20-0
Total offense 265 343
Penalties 6-30 6-30
Fumbles/lost 1/0 3/2
Punts 3-39.7 4-34.8
Butler: Zachary Adamec 22-yard FG, 2:47
PRP: Safety, Jared French mishandles snap in end zone, 7:13
PRP: Malik Walker 11 run (Walker pass to Garrett Lawrence), 5:24
PRP: Delvon Dunn 1 run (Walker run), :58
Butler: William Johnson 32 run (kick failed), 10:19
PRP: Dru Duckworth 1 run (pass failed), 5:45
Butler: Johnson 7 run (kick failed), 2:54
Butler: Johnson 15 run (Adamec kick), 9:44
Butler: Johnson 1 run (pass failed), 2:59