Ross Wiemer (Burlington, Wis./Burlington H.S.) rushed for two touchdowns for Valparaiso but Butler scored the game's final 27 points on the way to a 48-21 victory over the Crusaders in the Battle for the Hoosier Helmet at Brown Field.
Wiemer finished the game with 12 carries for 75 yards and also had three catches for another 33 yards as he went over 100 all-purpose yards for the game.
Neither team punted in the first half, which saw 465 yards of total offense between the two schools.
Valpo jumped on top quickly, as John Popper (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman H.S.) returned the opening kickoff 59 yards to the Bulldogs' 29-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Wiemer went up the middle for a Crusader touchdown just 21 seconds into the contest.
Butler answered with a scoring drive of its own as Matt Kobli completed a three-yard touchdown pass to Luke Johnson with 10:12 to play in the quarter.
Popper returned the Bulldog kickoff 34 yards out to the Valpo 45, and the Crusaders marched down field utilizing 10 plays and 5:31 seconds with Wiemer scampering through the left side for his second touchdown run of the game.
The Crusader defense appeared to stop Butler on a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but too many men on the field on the Bulldog punt kept the drive alive. One play later, Kobli found Eddie McHale wide open deep down field for a 54-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14.
Popper had his third big return of the first quarter, a 56-yarder, to set Valpo up at the Butler 31 yard line, but a missed field goal attempt ended the drive and the game remained tied heading into the second quarter.
"Popper had an excellent day kick returning," head coach Stacy Adams said. "He set up his blocks well."
Butler took advantage with a 10-play drive of its own capped with a Ryan Hitchcock touchdown up the middle from two yards out to put the Bulldogs on top for the first time on the day. Valpo then converted a pair of third downs on its following drive, and Warren Arnold (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) found a leaping Sean McCarty (Waukesha, Wis./West H.S.) in the corner of the end zone from 10 yards out to tie the game at 21 with 6:25 remaining before halftime.
Again Butler answered, this time with a 22 yard scoring strike from Kobli to Jordan Koopman over the middle with 1:44 to play before intermission. Valpo's two-minute offense appeared to have the Crusaders in position to add points to the scoreboard before intermission, but Derek Bradford stepped in front of an Arnold pass and returned the interception for an 89-yard touchdown as time expired in the opening half to give Butler a 35-21 lead at the break.
Valpo's defense gave the Crusaders a chance to get back into the game in the third quarter, as Andrew Mack (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle H.S.) forced a fumble and Anthony Curry (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) picked off a Cobli pass on the first two drives of the third quarter.
A punt and a fumble ended ensuing Valpo drives though, and Kobli added another rushing touchdown, just reaching the pylon from nine yards out with 2:12 remaining in the third. He then capped the scoring with his fourth passing touchdown of the game, a 17-yarder to McHale with 11:06 to play in the game.
"We had a pretty good first half of football offensively,” added Adams. "We went toe-to-toe with a good football team. Defensively we need to get back to fundamentals and be sound if we want to beat Dayton next week."
Kobli finished 21-of-27 passing for 222 yards and added another 105 on the ground for Butler (5-1, 3-0 PFL). McHale had four catches for 100 yards as the Bulldogs racked up 437 yards of total offense. Butler also had an 11-minute advantage in time of possession.
Valpo finished the day with 256 total yards, with Arnold completing 13-of-25 passes for 131 yards.
Defensively Sean Dillon (Oak Lawn, Ill./Mount Carmel H.S.) had 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and recovered a fumble while Mack and Ryan Koepke (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead H.S.) each had nine stops.
Valparaiso (2-4, 1-2) will head out on the road for its next two games beginning next Saturday in Dayton. Kickoff against the Flyers is set for 12 p.m. CDT with all the action carried live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpoathletics.com.
Game Notes: Curry's interception was a Pioneer Football League-leading fifth of the season … McCarty's touchdown reception was his first collegiate catch of his career … Abdullah Pratt (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park H.S.) made his first collegiate start at center … Butler leads the all-time series 43-24, including 2-1 in the Battle for the Hoosier Helmet … Arnold moved past Ryan Doerffler (2003-2006) into sixth place all-time on Valpo's total offense list with 3,990 yards … he also moved into eighth place all-time in passing with 2,836 career yards.