For the first time in ages, there was playoff talk at Butler. Slim hopes, yes, but postseason visions, nonetheless.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs seem to play with that in mind. Only it wasn't by seizing the chance to end years of frustration. Rather, they played with tentativeness that may have dimmed their chance to play in late November.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over three of the first six times they touched it, and Warner Robins cruised to a 32-7 victory.
"I don't think we had our minds in it," said running back Carlos Rogers, who had the Bulldogs' lone touchdown. "I think we were scared."
Of what, Rogers would not elaborate. But that oblong mass of pigskin would have been a solid guess.
Butler (3-4, 1-2 in Region 2-AAAA) turned the ball over six times in all, and was actually fortunate that Warner Robins (7-1, 4-0) capitalized only three times.
The horror show started with the opening kickoff and lingered painfully for two hours.
Here was the script for the first few scenes: Kevin Jackson fumbled the opening kickoff. Upon getting the ball back, Rogers produced runs of five and two yards, before Antjuan Welch fumbled as he scrambled for a first down.
After the Demons opened a 7-0 lead on Damien Garman's 3-yard scamper, Welch tossed an interception to open the Bulldogs' next possession.
On series No. 4, the Bulldogs didn't turn the ball over, but exacerbated a three-downs-and-out with a bad punt snap that became a 22-yard loss and eventually another Demon touchdown.
"You just can't spot a team with the quality of Warner Robins the short field and ask your defense to come through time and again," Butler coach David Land said. "Eventually, they're going to score, and that's what happened in the first half."
It was eerily familiar to the Cedar Shoals game on Sept. 18, when six turnovers cost the Bulldogs again.
Willie Reid had three of the Demon's five touchdowns, scoring on runs of one and three yards and catching a 15-yard TD pass from Garman.
Playoff possibilities still remain for Butler, but it now must defeat Westside-Macon next week and Lakeside the week after, then hope for some help.
"If we had beaten Warner Robins, we would have been in a better position," Land said. "Now we've just got to go back and work harder this week and go after Westside next week."
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