Valparaiso, Ind. - David Macchi compiled 429 yards in total offense and passed for three touchdowns, but Valpo fell to Morehead State, 32-26, in the Crusaders' Homecoming Game.
In an attempt to produce a dramatic game-winning touchdown, Valpo (3-3) drove 83 yards on 13 plays to the Morehead State 6-yard line before Macchi's second-down pass was deflected and intercepted in the end zone by Jahmaine Wells with 10 seconds remaining. Macchi, who passed for 355 yards, threw for 65 yards on the final drive, which began with 2:21 left.
Morehead State (3-2) overcame two deficits, including a 26-21 Valpo lead with 14:15 left in the game. The Crusaders earned the five-point lead on Rob Giancola's 10-yard pass from Macchi. The Eagles, who had earlier led 21-20 late in the third quarter, regained the lead when David Caudill connected with Ralph Delsardo for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 10:37 remaining. Morehead State added a two-point conversion pass from Caudill to Mike Poppa to increase its advantage to 29-26. Adam Jones booted a 49-yard field goal with 6:32 left to give MSU a 32-26 lead.
Valpo, which produced 510 total yards, emerged quickly in the first quarter, gaining a 14-0 advantage. On the game's first possession, Macchi engineered a nice balance of run and pass and completed a 12-play, 75-yard drive by throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Schmidt.
On the Eagles' first play, Elliott Powell intercepted Caudill's pass at the Valpo 41-yard line. The Crusaders cashed in 10 plays later when Matt Van Daele scampered for a 1-yard score at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter. Macchi's 32-yard pass to Ryan Barno set up the touchdown.
Morehead State came right back with 14 unanswered points over the next three-plus minutes. Caudill found Eli Parkes open for a 45-yard touchdown reception to cut Valpo's lead to 14-7. After forcing a Crusader punt, Caudill connected with Delsardo for an 82-yard touchdown aerial to tie the game at 14-14.
Following the scoring explosion in the first quarter, neither team scored in the second quarter.
Chris Daniels made his team-best fourth interception of the season to set up Valpo's next scoring drive. Kevin Knutson, who topped Valpo with 133 yards on six catches, ran past a defender for a 31-yard touchdown pass from Macchi with 7:08 left in the third quarter. The extra-point kick failed and Valpo led 20-14.
Morehead State turned the tables on the Crusaders when Jeremy Frazie intercepted a short pass at the Valpo 23-yard line. Five plays later, Jabari McGee scored on a three-yard run to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead with 1:53 left in the third stanza.
Macchi and Knutson hooked up on a 63-yard pass to put the Crusaders at the MSU 12-yard line on the last play of the third quarter. Two plays later, Giancola scored his Pioneer Football League-leading ninth touchdown on a fade pass from Macchi. Giancola finished with four catches for 36 yards.
On the final drive, Van Daele made an acrobatic catch of a Macchi pass for a 28-yard gain. Macchi also hit Knutson for 19 yards and Barno for 14 to set up the last-second comeback attempt. With 46 seconds remaining, Macchi found Giancola in the back of the end zone, but Giancola was ruled out of bounds.
Macchi, who led Valpo with 74 rushing yards on 16 attempts, completed 23 of 45 passes. Van Daele added 68 rushing yards on 15 carries and caught five passes for 72 yards. Barno tied Knutson with a game-high six receptions for 83 yards. Valpo finished with 155 rushing yards and won the battle of first downs, 29-20.
Brad Smeja led the Crusaders with 11 tackles, while John Tsahas added seven. Powell had two pass breakups for Valpo. Odi Anyanwu led MSU with 10 tackles.
Morehead State compiled 446 total yards - 266 through the air and 180 on the ground. Caudill led the Eagles with 57 rushing yards on 11 carries and completed 12 of 26 passes, including three touchdowns. Parkes topped MSU with three catches for 67 yards.
Valpo travels to play Dayton next Saturday (Oct. 11) beginning at 1 p.m. EDT in the PFL North Division opener.