Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) rushed for a school-record 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Valparaiso defeated Wisconsin Lutheran 17-3 on Saturday evening at Warrior Field in Wauwatosa, Wis. to give head coach Stacy Adams a victory in his first game as Crusader head coach.
Horton's effort was three yards better than Ozzie Young's 1994 Crusader previous single game record of 226 yards.
The opening quarter of the season was a scoreless one, with each team forcing a turnover to halt a potential scoring drive. Valpo went three and out in its first offensive possession, but moved the ball down to the Warriors 40. The hosts forced a fumble on a third and four, with Ray Peplinski falling on the loose ball at the Wisconsin Lutheran 36-yard line.
Valpo's defense answered the call. After a first down, the Warriors were out to their own 48 before an offensive pass interference call forced them into a first and long situation. On third down and long, Valpo's defensive pressure forced quarterback T.J. Bodnar to rush and Mike Jones (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich H.S.) stepped in with the interception, returning it to the Wisconsin Lutheran 43-yard line.
With a short field to work with, Valpo's offense took advantage. A six-play drive was capped off by Horton taking a toss left and scampering into the end zone from five yards out to give the Crusaders a 7-0 lead with 12:56 remaining in the first half.
Two drives later, Wisconsin Lutheran put together a scoring drive of their own, just before halftime. The Warriors drove down to the Valpo eight before a sack on first and goal eventually forced Wisconsin Lutheran to settle for a 26-yard field goal off the foot of Tim Reichelt with just 1:03 left in the second quarter.
Horton ran for 75 yards in the first half on just 11 carries for the Crusaders. Valpo kept the ball on the ground most of the first half, with Ryan Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia H.S.) throwing just six times, completing four, for 29 yards. The Crusaders finished the first half with 132 total yards while Wisconsin Lutheran tallied 135, 109 of which came via the air.
The Crusaders came out of the locker room and kept the ball on the ground. A nine-play drive for a score saw Valpo move all 76 yards on the ground. Horton carried six times for 49 yards, capped off with a four-yard touchdown run to through the left side to put Valpo in front 14-3 with 10:43 left in the third.
After Valpo forced a three and out, the Crusaders threatened again. Valpo had a first and goal at the seven, only to be forced back by an offensive pass interference penalty in the end zone. The next play saw Eric Walbrandt step in front of a Valpo receiver for a Warrior interception.
The Brown and Gold took the 11-point lead into the fourth quarter. On the second play of the final quarter, redshirt freshman Matt Watkins (Mason, Ohio/Mason H.S.) picked off a pass and set Valpo up at the Wisconsin Lutheran 25-yard line. The drive stalled at the 13 though, as Horton fumbled the football, one of the rare mistakes he made on the day.
Valpo tacked on three more late in the game, as Andrew McCawley (Omaha, Neb./Creighton Prep H.S.) kicked a 26-yard field goal with 3:31 remaining.
Valparaiso finished the game with 352 total yards, 306 of which came on the ground. Wisconsin Lutheran (0-1) was held to 203 total yards, just 68 of which came in the second half.
Valpo (1-0) will return to action next Saturday as the Crusaders travel to Brookings, S.D. to battle South Dakota State in a 7 p.m. contest.