Two Valparaiso turnovers in the third quarter led to a pair of Jacksonville touchdowns as the Dolphins turned a halftime deficit into a 34-17 victory over the Crusaders on Homecoming afternoon Saturday at Brown Field.
Valpo started quickly on the afternoon, moving the ball 76 yards on nine plays to begin the game, with John Popper (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman H.S.) scoring from 15 yards out to give the Brown and Gold a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest.
Jacksonville answered with a Jeremy Brown one-yard run to tie the game on the Dolphins' second possession of the game. Jerry Brant then game Jacksonville the lead 14-7, scampering up the middle 53 yards for the go ahead score.
The Crusaders tied the game midway through the second quarter as Ross Wiemer (Burlington, Wis./Burlington H.S.) scored his third touchdown of the season, this one on a nine-yard run set up by a wide receiver pass from Nicholas Henton (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle H.S.) to Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.) for 30 yards.
Mike Krieg (Romeo, Mich./Romeo H.S.) then connected from 32 yards out for a field goal with just 23 seconds remaining until halftime, giving the Brown and Gold a 17-14 lead at the break.
Valpo's defense held the Dolphins three-and-out on the first possession, but a fumble on the punt return set Jacksonville up at the Crusader 20-yard line. Brant scored his second touchdown of the game from a yard out, but the point after attempt was blocked so the Dolphins led 20-17.
Quarterback Chris Horton added another touchdown for Jacksonville (2-2, 2-0 PFL) following a Valpo interception on the Crusaders' next drive, as he ran in from 21 yards out to put the guests on top by ten.
Brant added his final touchdown of the game on the final play of the third quarter, a 42-yard reception from Horton to close out the scoring.
Valpo finished the game with a four-yard advantage in total offense, 349-345, but 11 penalties for 74 yards hindered Valpo's attack. The Crusaders entered the game with ten total miscues in the first four games of the season.
Ryan Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia H.S.) was 18-of-37 throwing the football for 163 yards. Ogden finished the game with four catches for 90 yards while Popper had 15 carries for 72 yards.
Brant led the Dolphins with 159 yards on the ground as well as his touchdown reception. Winston Ward made 14 tackles in the win for Jacksonville.
Valparaiso (2-3, 1-2) will look to snap its two-game losing skid next Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders head to Rensselaer, Ind. for a noon kickoff against Saint Joseph's.