Led by a school single-game record 23 total tackles from senior linebacker Vincent Winey, plus three touchdowns from senior wide receiver BJ Byrd, Morehead State football closed the 2021 spring season on a high note with a 28-18 victory over Butler at Jayne Stadium.
The Eagles finished the Pioneer League slate 4-2 and coupled with San Diego's loss to Valparaiso, MSU finished in a tie for second place. That was the highest finish since 2015. MSU also closed the campaign with a winning record at 4-3 and finished with a perfect home record (3-0) for the first time since 1949.
Winey, whose school record also included three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery, broke current assistant coach Ryan Bennett's previous single-game mark of 20 set in 2016 against Jacksonville.
Byrd hauled in two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Mark Pappas and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown immediately after the Bulldogs had pulled to within three points at the end of the third quarter.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- - Morehead State took only three offensive plays to move 70 yards for a 7-0 lead with 13:50 left in the first quarter. Pappas connected with Byrd on a short pass, and Byrd did the rest, racing 40 yards down the Butler sideline to paydirt, his seventh receiving touchdown this spring.
- - The Eagle' quick strike offense struck again on its next possession. It took just five plays to go 68 yards, and Pappas found junior receiver Thomas Campbell-Clay on a 19-yard TD toss. It marked Campbell-Clay's fourth aerial score of the spring.
- - The Bulldogs pulled to within 14-10 at the half. Yogi Flager caught a five-yard pass from Sam Brown for their first score, and JJ Wadas was true on a 21-yard field goal as time exprired in the half.
- - With 2:19 remaining in the third period, Pappas and Byrd connected again, this time a three-yard TD to make it 21-10.
- - Butler closed to within 21-18 when Kavon Samuels raced 42 yards to the end zone, and Brown connected with fellow QB Nick Orlando for extra two points.
- - On the ensuing kickoff, Byrd caught the ball at the 15-yard line and proceeded to race through all 11 Bulldog defenders on the way to the end zone, his first career kickoff return for a score.
- - With 2:27 remaining, Butler appeared ready to score, but a pass to Brad Huth was eventually jarred loose by senior cornerback Jelani-Ray Garvin. Winey scooped it up and set up the Eagles at the 14-yard line.
- - While MSU had to surrender the ball back to Butler, defender Khiyree Keith put the finishing touches on the win with an interception in the end zone on a first-and-goal play for Butler at the 10-yard line.
- - Pappas was 19-of-27 for 231 yards and three TDs, his eighth career three-touchdown game. He also completed passes to nine different receivers, the 23rd consecutive game where at least six players have caught a pass.
- - The Eagle defense picked off a pass for the sixth consecutive game, finishing the spring campaign with 14 pickoffs.
- - The defense also had a hand in 16 tackles for loss.
- - Keith and freshman Cooper Krezek both had career-highs in tackles (11 and 10, respectively.).
- - Junior defensive lineman Devon Connors finished with a career-high four tackles for loss and finished with nine TFLs in his first Eagle season.
- - Senior lineman Vaughn Taylor, Jr., had two more tackles for loss, finishing with 10 this season, and now 36 in his career.
- - Sophomore linebacker Jahleel Holmes was in on a career-best three tackles for loss.
- - The Eagles won despite only having a time of possession of 16:17. Butler held the ball for 43:43.
- - Byrd had 203 all-purpose yards.
- - Senior punter Andrew Foster averaged 46 yards on punts, including a 60-yarder. He also pinned Butler at the one-yard line on that 60-yard boot.
- - Foster became the first kicker in program history to average 40 or more yards on punts in three consecutive seasons.