Pickett's charge
Butler RB rushes for 276 yards in 31-21 win

Butler decided to kick it old-school Friday night at Art Bernardi Stadium.
Tim Vernick scored the game's first points on a 30-yard interception return and Damien Pickett had 29 carries for 276 yards — a possible school record — and two touchdowns as the Golden Tornado defeated
Baldwin, 31-21.
“I know it's traditional stuff, but if you can play solid defense, run the football and control the clock, you can be successful in this sport,”
Butler coach Rob Densmore said.
“I'm proud of these kids. I want them to enjoy this. I know how hard they've worked for it.”
Butler ran the ball for 292 yards while Baldwin netted 34 yards in 26 carries. Rocco Ruscitto, who rushed for 135 yards last week, was held to 10 yards on nine carries.
“They won the line of scrimmage and that won them the game,”
Baldwin coach Pete Wagner said. “My hat's off to them. Their effort was much better than ours tonight.
“We figured them to be a physical team and they sure were.”
The Tornado (1-1) had a 14-0 lead before the Highlanders (1-1) registered a first down.
Following Vernick's pick-six,
Butler went up 14-0 as Pickett ranbled 49 yards to the Baldwin 6, setting up Robert Burdine's 4-yard scoring run with 5:53 left in the first half.
Before either team scored, the Tornado defense overcame a bad snap that sailed over punter Devin Fitz's head for a 30-yard loss. Fitz covered the ball at his own 14-yard line.
On fourth-and-2 from the 6, Highlander quarterback Doug Altavilla was gang-tackled a yard short of the sticks.
“A stand close to your own goal-line like that is big anytime,”
Butler two-way lineman Derek Gengler said. “In this case, our offense fed off it. I think we all did.”
Altavilla, a fourth-year starter, began hitting some passes and
Baldwin got back in the game.


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He led his team on a 10-play, 80-yard drive late in the first half, throwing his first of three touchdown passes to younger brother Nick Altavilla.
Doug Altavilla ultimately threw for 230 yards and the touchdown strikes of 26, 57 and 5 to his brother, who had eight catches for 135 yards.
But that production wouldn't be enough.
Fitz drilled a 37-yard field goal early in the third period for a 17-7 Tornado lead.
Baldwin crept within 17-14, but Butler's ground game took over from there.
On successive Tornado possessions, Pickett carried the ball 11 times out of 12 plays, including touchdown runs of 46 yards and 1 yard.
The latter score opened up a 31-14 lead with
4:51 left and ended the competitive portion of the game.
“That was all our line,” Pickett said of his performance. “They were opening up holes and I was getting through them.”
Butler's final scoring drive, Pickett was the third back in the formation, lining up behind fullbacks Jeremy Hanford and Lucas Dubyak as the Tornado plowed straight ahead.
“Yeah, that was fun,” Pickett said. “Running behind those guys was a blast.”
“Moving people back the way we were ... That felt incredible,” Gengler enthused. “We came out here wanting to play physical and we have to keep playing that way.”
Densmore agreed.
“We will be out-sized by most teams we play. We were out-sized tonight,” the coach said. “We just brought the physicality.
“I didn't think they could run on us because they run a zone-blocking scheme and we cover the gaps well. We ran around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off trying to contain that quarterback, but we got the job done.”
Gengler batted down a fourth-down pass at the
Butler 28 late in the third quarter. Michael Snow had a pair of quarterback sacks while Vernick, Hanford and Dubyak laid down heavy hits all night.
“This win should shoot our confidence way up,” Pickett said.