QB Hays picks up win in first start
Golden Tornado trip up Shaler, 34-16
Eagle Sports Editor
SHALER TWP — In coach Rob Densmore's own words, Butler didn't play its best game.
It didn't need to.
The Golden Tornado (2-3, 1-3) rushed for 278 yards and four touchdowns, produced a critical kickoff return for a score and defeated Shaler, 34-16, in Northern Seven football action Friday night.
“We made a lot of mistakes tonight and our tackling wasn't good,” Densmore said. “On their long touchdown run, we missed at least six tackles.
“But for the first time since I've been here, we won a game when we didn't play our best. That's encouraging because I know we can play better.”
Dallas Hays, a senior, made his first varsity start at quarterback and made an impact on Butler's first offensive series. On third and 29, he scrambled for a 27-yard gain to the Shaler 31. The Golden Tornado converted on fourth down and Antonio DeVaughn capped the possession with a 24-yard scoring run.
The host Titans (0-6, 0-4) answered with Jake Pollak's 65-yard touchdown run on Shaler's next offensive play. Hays scored on runs of 11 and three yards later in the first half and the Tornado took a 21-10 lead into halftime.
“I was surprised how well Butler ran the ball on us,” Shaler coach Jon LeDonne admitted. “I thought our offensive and defensive lines were a strong point for us so far this year, but we got pushed around tonight.'
Still, the Titans made things interesting. Pollak scored his second touchdown on a 12-yard run with 9:32 to play. The two-point conversion failed, but the Titans were within 21-16.
Luke Michalek quickly put an end to that drama, returning the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.
“The middle hadn't been open on those returns earlier, but it opened up that time,” Michalek said. “I got through and headed for the left corner.
“It was a big play, sure, but it was only one of many big plays for us tonight. This game was fun.”
LeDonne didn't enjoy that play too much.
“That returned turned the game. It was a dagger,” he said.
“Huge play ... absolutely huge,” the Butler coach said.
Michalek scored on a 31-yard run on a third and 13 play with 4:52 left for Butler's final points. He rushed for 118 yards while Hays ran for 84 and DeVaughn 71.
“That was all blocking,” Michalek said. “We didn't play scared tonight. We played well.”
The Tornado did not have a takeaway defensively, but Josh Kradel, Kyle Heller and Seth McCrea were among Butler defenders who sacked freshman quarterback Daren Mizgorski.
Butler lost a fumble near midfield on the second play of the second half, but a Heller sack on third down forced a Titan punt.
Shaler dropped its 10th straight game, dating back to last season.
Hays completed only one pass all night — a 41-yard bomb to John Michalek in the first quarter — but rushed for 90 yards in the first half.
“Dallas was a difference-maker in this game,” Densmore said. “Once he showed he can scramble for yards, their defense had to respect that. It opened up other plays in the running game.”