Caulton Ray ran for two touchdowns and Western Illinois held on to beat Butler 23-15 Thursday night in the season opener for both schools.
Ray finished with 106 yards on the ground and Nikko Watson ran for 109 yards for the Leathernecks. Pat Smith kicked three field goals for Western Illinois.
Western Illinois built a 16-0 lead at halftime and led 23-0 in the third quarter. The Bulldogs rallied behind Matt Lancaster, who threw a touchdown pass and ran for another, and they drove deep into Leathernecks territory in the final minute. After getting possession at its 1-yard line, Butler drove to the Western Illinois 4 before time ran out.
The Leathernecks ran 56 times and controlled the ball for 37 minutes. It was the first meeting between the teams.
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