Behind the title: Led by defensive end Markus White, the NJCAA defensive player of the year, the Grizzlies entered the Top of the Mountains Bowl ranked No. 2 in the country and with an 11-0 record. Turned out, even a dominating, 56-27 win over the No. 1 team in the country – Snow College – wasn’t good enough to get them the NJCAA title all by themselves. In a decision that still has people scratching their heads, the NJCAA held a special meeting over the weekend to decide to name co-national champions, splitting the title between Butler and then-No. 3 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, which defeated No. 15 Kilgore 62-28 in the Heart of Texas Bowl. The decision, according to NJCAA assistant executive director Mark Krug, was made for the “good of the sport” and the voters were only allowed to rank teams 3-20. “There’s nothing we can do about it,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said after the rankings came out. “We’ve done everything we can do on the field. It shouldn’t tarnish anything our kids accomplished. We beat six ranked opponents.” White, running back Beau Johnson and offensive lineman Wade Weibert were all named first-team All-Americans for Butler.
Tomorrow: Butler goes back-to-back for a second time. Game story and box score from ’07 after the jump.
SNOW PLOWED: BUTLER BEATS TOP-RANKED FOE (Published 12-2-2007)
BY ANDREW ARAGON
SALT LAKE CITY – It was a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup for the NJCAA championship, and the pollsters clearly had the wrong team favored. Butler Community College, second to Snow College in the most recent NJCAA poll, routed the Badgers 56-27 in the Top of the Mountains Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
The win most likely clinched the NJCAA title for the Grizzlies, who have to wait until the final poll is released on Dec. 10 to officially claim their fifth national championship.
“That was a confusion,” Grizzlies defensive lineman Markus White said. “I think we deserved to be No. 1, and we will be No. 1. We’ll be No. 1 forever.”
Butler certainly left no doubt which team rules the NJCAA, as the Grizzlies conquered both the Badgers and some tough elements. The first half was played in blizzard-like conditions, the turf field covered in snow.
The snowstorm stopped at halftime, the field was cleared, and Butler then surged past Snow. Running back Beau Johnson broke off an 80-yard touchdown run on the Grizzlies’ first possession after halftime, stretching his team’s lead to 28-13. Quarterback Mike Garrison connected on touchdown passes of 64 yards to Wayne Bonner and 36 yards to Sam Jacobsen in the third quarter.
Butler was able to build a 21-13 halftime lead despite the harsh field conditions.
“Our kids were really excited about having the field cleaned off and being able to run and change directions and cut and things like that,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “I do think that was a big difference in the game. Coming right out of the locker room and scoring two big ones like that were big for momentum.”
The Badgers were stunned by Butler’s ability to move the ball up and down the field. Snow College entered the game allowing an average of 12.4 points and 155 yards per game. Butler scored twice in the first quarter, quickly putting the Badgers on their heels.
The Grizzlies were equally efficient in running and passing the ball. Johnson averaged 8.3 yards per carry, gained a total of 233 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns.
“He’s a good one,” Snow coach Steve Coburn said. “He does a good job of running the offense. He stepped up to the challenge today.”
Garrison completed eight of his first nine passes and tossed three touchdowns. He finished 10 for 16 for 253 yards.
White said his defensive unit felt challenged to outperform Snow’s because the Badgers had better statistics entering Saturday’s game.
Butler’s defense easily had the upper hand in the Top of the Mountains Bowl, forcing four turnovers and recording two sacks.
“We put it all together,” White said. “We showed them we could stop them. They didn’t score 50 points on us and we’re proud of it.”
The Grizzlies snapped Snow’s eight-game bowl winning streak.
Snow players arrested – Snow was without three players, two of them regulars, for Saturday’s game.
Receiver Troy Cummings, safety Stephon Thrash and reserve receiver Andrew Castaneda were arrested by police in Ephraim, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with a series of burglary and arson incidents in three counties.
Butler 14 7 21 14 – 56
Snow 7 6 7 7 – 27
B-Johnson 4 run (Fowler kick)
S-Takai 2 run (Phillips kick)
B-Bell 7 run (Fowler kick)
S-Tuitupou 2 pass from Eastman (kick failed)
B-Bonner 31 pass from Garrison (Fowler kick)
B-Johnson 80 run (Fowler kick)
B-Bonner 64 pass from Garrison (Fowler kick)
S-Thomas 2 pass from Eastman (Phillips kick)
B-Jacobsen 36 pass from Garrison (Fowler kick)
S-Takai 1 run (Phillips kick)
B-Johnson 9 run (Fowler kick)
B-Johnson 2 run (Fowler kick)
Rushing – Butler, Johnson 26-223; Bell 16-51; Garrison 1-3; Snow, Takai 32-120; Brooks 1-0; Sotele 1-0; Eastman 3-(-24).
Passing – Butler, Garrison 10-16-0-252; Snow, Eastman 19-35-3-244.
Receiving – Butler, Jones 3-54; Bonner 2-95; Jacobsen 2-42; ; Gaines 1-24; Vignery 1-11; Snow, Buck 5-96; ; Burton 3-42; Frandsen 2-26; Thomas 2-23; Takai 1-9; Hatch 1-6; .