Going out on top
Butler edges Big Macs in finale
Butler defender Colton Frost (44) tips a pass during the Golden Tornado's 28-26 home win over Canon-McMillan Friday night.
NATE BLACK/ SPECIAL TO THE EAGLE
BUTLER TWP — Canon-McMillan rolled up 442 yards of offense. Luke Michalek racked up 434 all-purpose yards.
But it was one defensive play by Michalek that ultimately decided Butler's 28-26 victory over the Big Macs Friday night in a mutual football season finale at Art Bernardi Stasdium.
The Big Macs (4-6) battled back from a 28-7 deficit to get within 28-26 on a 2-yard Davey Cooper touchdown run with 5:49 remaining. Quarterback Jon Quinque wanted to throw for the game-tying two points, but was forced to scramble and was stopped short of the goal line.
When a Jake Kradel punt pinned Canon-Mac at its 3-yard line with less than three minutes left, the outcome was nearly decided.
But not yet.
“We needed a big play on defense. We made the right plays at the right time,” Butler interim head coach Eric Christy said.
Quinque was nearly sacked for a safety, but found Dillon O'donoghue behind the defense for 37 yards. The Big Macs faced a fourth-and-13 at their 42, but Quinque found Greyden Piechnick for 19 yards to keep the drive alive.
Canon-Mac then faced fourth-and-4 at the Golden Tornado 33-yard line.
“I called a timeout to make sure we had everyone lined up on defense the way we wanted,” Christy said.
That included Michalek covering Piechnick.
When the receiver tried running a pattern inside, Michalek cut him off, knocked the ball away with 39 seconds left and preserved the Tornado victory.
“That was something our coaches were preaching to us all season in practice. Don't let the receiver go inside on you,” Michalek said. “That thought immediately popped into my head as we lined up.”
Christy grinned when the pass break-up was brought up in conversation.
“It's only fitting it was Luke who made that play,” Christy said. “The kid had a great year.”
Michalek rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns on the night. He also returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score. After Canon-Mac tied the game at 7 on a short drive, Michalek returned the next kickoff 93 yards to paydirt.
“Those two kick returns ... didn't see that coming,” Big Macs coach Mike Evans said.
Michalek did — at least the first one.
“As soon as I got the ball, I saw the hole and knew I was taking it in,” he said. “The second one? Probably had a little luck on that one.”
The Tornado defense contributed to the win buy forcing five turnovers. Colton Frost forced two fumbles and had a pair of sacks. Darin Skidmore recovered two fumbles, Kyler Callihan and Kradel one each.
Dan Kline intercepted a pass for Butler.
“That's been the story of our season,” Evans said of the turnovers. “We were going in for a touchdown and fumbled the ball away. We had two other potential scoring drives stopped by turnovers.
“Still, we fought back. I'm very proud of my team. These are two teams in similar situations, two programs just fighting to move forward.”
The Tornado (3-6) lost three fumbles in the contest.
“Just get off our blocks and get after it,” Frost said. “We never quit trying to make big plays.
“This win means everything to we seniors. It's the last time we'll be on this field together.”
Michalek ends the season with 950 yards rushing and 1,767 all-purpose yards. He has a 65-yard scoring run wiped out by a holding penalty.
“Great way to end this,” Christy said. “Our guys were ready to play tonight.”
Canon-Mac 7 6 7 6 — 26
Butler 21 7 0 0 — 28
B — Luke Michalek 92 kick return (Emery Douthett kick), 11:48
C-M — Drew Engel 8 pass from Jon Quinque (Josh Byers kick), 9:30
B — Michalek 93 kick return (Douthett kick), 9:17
B — Michalek 15 run (Douthett kick), 3:09
B — Michalek 82 run (Douthett kick), 3:09
C-M — Engel 7 pass from Quinque (kick blocked), :02
C-M — Greyden Piechnick 8 pass from Quinquye (Byers kick), :45
C-M — Davey Cooper 2 run (run failed), 5:49
Rushing: Canon-Mac, Tre Lewis 1-(-12), Jon Quinque 5-(-15), Davey Cooper 21-133, Gerrit Nighnhas 8-52. Butler, Luke Michalek 30-249, John Michalek 11-60, Brandon Fleeger 1-8, TEAM 1-(-9), Jacob Tilko 1-3, Kyler Callihan 1-8.
Passing: Canon-Mac, Jon Quinque 14-22-285-0, Trey Lewis 0-4-0-1. Butler, Luke Michalek 0-3-0-0.
Receiving: Canon-Mac, Greyden Piechnick 3-72, Drew Engel 9-172, Dillon O'donoghue 2-41.