Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) carried a school record 41 times for 212 yards and scored three times helping to lead Valparaiso to a 34-21 victory over Butler, spoiling the Bulldogs' Homecoming on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind.
The win snaps Valpo's five-game losing skid and gets the Crusaders off on the right foot with a win in Pioneer Football League divisional opener.
Horton's 41 carries were six more than Dave Newman's total of 35 rushes against Evansville in 1977. His yardage total represents the third 200+ yard rushing game of his career.
Butler jumped on the scoreboard first and wasted little time doing so. D'Andre Dowdy returned the opening kickoff 98 yards through the middle, cutting to the left sideline for a touchdown.
The Crusaders answered less than 30 seconds later. On the first play from scrimmage, Valpo ran a reverse to Joe Blahowicz (Buffalo, N.Y./Alden H.S.) took the reverse and threw a 55-yard strike down the left sideline to Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.). Jeff Horton scampered 13 yards into the end zone to tie the game at seven with 14:24 left in the first quarter. For Horton, it was his seventh rushing touchdown on the season.
After Valpo's defense held Butler to a three-and-out, Horton returned the punt 23 yards setting the Crusaders up at the Bulldog 44. Horton was a workhorse on the drive, carrying seven times for 39 yards, capping it off with a one-yard score over the top of the pile to put the Brown and Gold in front 14-7 with 8:59 left in the opening quarter.
Another three-and-out by the Valpo defense led to good field position for the Crusaders offense yet again. Following the Butler punt, the Bulldogs committed a personal foul penalty setting the Brown and Gold up at the Bulldog 44. The Crusaders drove to the Butler 25 before Andrew McCawley (Omaha, Neb./Creighton Prep H.S.) kicked a 42-yard field goal from the left hash to put Valpo up ten, 17-7, with 4:29 left in the quarter.
Valpo's defense held Butler to just 19 yards of offense and one first down in the opening quarter. Horton rushed 11 times for 73 yards as the Crusaders piled up 131 yards of offense and held the ten-point advantage after one.
Just before halftime Valpo put together one final drive. Using a mix of run and pass, Ryan Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia H.S.) moved down field in just over two minutes beginning at the Crusader 26. Doerffler connected with Horton in the left side of the end zone from 16 yards out to put the Brown and Gold up 24-7 with 37 seconds left in the half, a lead the Crusaders would take into the locker room.
Horton went over 100 yards rushing midway through the second quarter on a ten-yard run as the junior hit the century mark for the third time this season. He finished the first stanza with 21 carries for 122 yards. The Crusaders tallied 255 total yards in the first half while holding Butler to just 64. Valpo's defense recorded six tackles for loss in the first half.
Butler utilized a ten-play, 83-yard drive midway through the third quarter to strike first in the second half. Billy Nardini went around the right side from 29 yards out for the rushing touchdown to cut the Bulldog's deficit to 24-14 with 3:36 left in the quarter.
Valpo took its ten-point advantage into the fourth. The Crusaders kept the ball on the ground on the first possession of the final stanza, moving 14 plays and 80 yards. Horton went over the 200-yard mark while Doerffler ran to the right and found the end zone from seven yards out for his first rushing touchdown of the season. Valpo ate up nearly seven minutes of time to take the 31-14 lead with 8:09 left.
McCawley added a 40-yard with 3:44 left to cap off the scoring for the Brown and Gold.
Butler added a late score with 1:22 left as T.J. Brown threw a 22-yard scoring strike to Nate Miller to close to within 13, but that would be as close as the Bulldogs would get.
Doerffler finished the game 11-of-14 for 94 yards as the Crusaders racked up 399 yards of total offense. Ogden finished with 70 yards receiving for the Brown and Gold. James Riker (Tekonsha, Mich./Tekonsha H.S.) led the defense with nine tackles, including a pair of sacks.
Nardini finished the game with 86 yards rushing for Butler (0-7, 0-2 PFL North) while Brown was 10-of-25 for 160 yards. Miller led the Bulldogs with three catches for 61 yards. Valpo held the Bulldogs to just 254 yards of total offense for the game.
Valparaiso (2-5, 1-0 PFL North) will remain on the road next Saturday as the Crusaders head to Dayton for a 12 p.m. CDT kickoff against the Flyers.