CHAPEL HILL — Jack Britt linebacker Dylan Clayton summed up the challenge presented by Matthews Butler succinctly in the Buccaneers’ postgame interview at Kenan Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
“They’ve got about nine D-I athletes,” Clayton said. “And all their receivers had about five inches on our DBs. Really, when their quarterback could read that we had one guy covered, he just threw it to the next guy.”
That explosive Bulldog offense proved too much for the Bucs (13-3) from the start as Butler scored four unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 56-28 victory.
Butler (15-0) claimed its third NCHSAA 4-AA football state championship in four years, adding this year’s title to the 2009 and 2010 championships.
The Bulldogs’ attack was led by senior quarterback Riley Ferguson, a Tennessee commit and Saturday’s Most Valuable Player. Ferguson threw for 301 yards, completing 20 of 29 attempts.
Ferguson’s five touchdown passes tied the record set by Joe Cox of Charlotte Independence in a state championship game at a neutral site against New Bern in 2003.
Ferguson said the challenge of the season for the Bulldogs, who finished out the regular season atop the coaches poll and earned the top seed overall in the 4-AA bracket, was to play at an elite level for the duration of the season.
“You can’t really tell from film what an offense or a defense it going to do,” Ferguson said. “We tried to prepare every type of way, and then we had to come out focused every single week.”
Backup quarterback Anthony Ratliff, lined up as a wide receiver, accounted for 84 passing yards of his own on two double pass plays. The second play resulted in a 38-yard scoring connection to Uriah Lemay that put Butler up 42-7 with under four minutes to play in the first half.
“You can watch film and know that they’re good,” Rimpf said. “The first half was really all them executing when we couldn’t execute. When you have one game in football, that’s what it comes down is one team executing.”
The Bucs managed two touchdowns in the second quarter, using the strong arm of senior quarterback Mark McRae to capitalize on chances inside Bulldog territory.
McRae connected with Jalen McDaniel on a 42-yard scoring pass and a 35-yard scoring throw to Chris Magee in the period, part of a 230-yard performance by McRae.
The quarterback completed 18 of 34 pass attempts for three touchdowns, but he was picked twice by the Bulldog defense.