Valparaiso scored 21 fourth quarter points but it was not enough to overcome a 32-0 halftime lead by Saint Joseph's (Ind.) as the Crusaders dropped their annual Homecoming game 34-21 on Saturday afternoon at Brown Field.
The Pumas found the end zone just 41 seconds into the game, as Valpo fumbled on its first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Greg Ford rushed in from four yards out. Michael Binder's extra point attempt was blocked by Doug Howard (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy H.S.).
The Crusader offense struggled in the first quarter, and Saint Joseph's found the end zone again with 4:06 left. Anthony Lindsey threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Capi and again Howard blocked the try for point.
The Pumas made it 19-0 before the end of the quarter when Lindsey connected with Dan Paulsen from 70 yards out with 1:36 left in the quarter. Another Crusader turnover set up a Kevin Marurice 3-yard run that gave the Pumas a 26-point lead just four seconds into the second quarter.
Saint Joseph's scored one more time before intermission on a 26-yard pass from Lindsey to Julius Taylor. Josh Bintzler (Sheboygan, Wis./Lutheran H.S.) blocked the kick this time but it was 32-0 at the half.
After the two schools played a scoreless third quarter, Valpo's offense came to life in the fourth. Ryan Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia H.S.) hooked up with Dustin Shamburg (Denver, Colo./Overland H.S.) for an 11-yard touchdown strike to cap off a 10-play drive with 12:39 left in the game.
Valpo struck again with 4:30 left as Pete Karamitos (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) caught a three-yard pass from Doerffler for his first career touchdown. Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) then connected with Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.) on a half-back pass for the two-point conversion to make it 32-15.
On the Brown and Gold's next possession, Valpo went 52 yards in six plays capped off by a two-yard run by Horton to close to within 11. The Crusaders again went for two, however Cory Sanders picked off the pass and returned it 100 yards for two points for the Pumas.
Valpo finished the game with 301 total yards, including 236 through the air as Doerffler was 19-of-36. Joe Blahowicz (Buffalo, N.Y./Alden H.S.) caught five passes for 78 yards while Wade Overton (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran North H.S.) hauled in six passes for 60 yards.
On the ground, Horton carried for just 44 yards on 16 carries to lead the Crusader ground attack.
Lindsey was 12-of-20 for 292 yards through the air for Saint Joseph's (4-3) while Paulsen had three catches for 103 yards. Maurice led the ground game with 52 yards on just six carries, as eight different Pumas carried the football.
Defensively, Mike Jones (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich H.S.) made ten stops for the Crusaders, forced a fumble, recovered two others, and broke up a pass to lead the way. Jones has now recovered four fumbles on the season. Valpo forced four Saint Joseph's turnovers, but committed four of their own.
Valparaiso (1-5) will look to snap its five-game losing skid next Saturday as the Crusaders open Pioneer Football League North Division play in Indianapolis against Butler. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.