A late Drake interception returned for a touchdown in the final minute spoiled Valparaiso's chance to tie the game on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders fell 21-7 to the Bulldogs in Pioneer Football League action at Brown Field.
Phillip Williams picked off a Ryan Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia H.S.) pass and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown with just 26 seconds remaining to seal the game for the Bulldogs.
Valpo fought hard all day, keeping the game close throughout. The Bulldogs scored on the first possession of the game as Scott Pahydavong ran 16 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown as Drake took a 7-0 lead just 2:26 into the game.
The Crusader defense kept the deficit to just seven throughout the rest of the first quarter and into the second until Josh Lynn (Hammond, Ind./Morton H.S.) went in from a yard out on his first career carry to tie the game at seven with just 3:40 to play before halftime.
Drake answered on the ensuing drive as Willie Cashmore scored from seven yards out to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead at the break.
Valpo drove down field to begin the third quarter only to see an interception inside the Drake 30 end the drive. After neither team scored in the third, the visitors appeared poised to add to the lead early in the fourth, driving to the Crusader seven-yard line before Jason Grunewald (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) picked off a Derek Retherford pass in the end zone.
Starting at their own three after the pick, Valpo used 15 plays to drive 83 yards, moving all the way down to the Drake 14. A fourth down pass fell incomplete, ending the drive with 6:46 to play. Valpo's defense got a stop, forcing a punt with 48 seconds to play, but the game-ending interception ended the Crusaders' hopes for the win.
Doerffler finished the game 20-of-42 for 230 yards with seven of the passes going to Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.) for 86 yards. John Popper (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman H.S.) led the Valpo ground attack with 14 carries for 49 yards.
Defensively, Sean Dillon (Orland Park, Ill./Mount Carmel H.S.) led the Crusaders with ten tackles while Jimmy Riker (Tekonsha, Mich./Tekonsha H.S.) added seven, including two for loss, a fumble recovery, a pass break-up, and a sack.
Pahydavong led Drake (3-1, 1-0 PFL) with 27 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown while Retherford was 12-of-22 for 166 yards. Daniel Marx caught four passes for 88 yards for the Bulldogs.
Valparaiso (2-2, 1-1) will look to rebound next Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders entertain Jacksonville for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Brown Field with all the action carried online at www.valpo.edu/athletics and on the Valpo Sports Radio Network.