After begin shutout over the first half, Valparaiso rallied in the final 30 minutes to record a 21-13 victory over Marian (Ind.) on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind. as the Crusaders improved to 3-1 on the season.
After struggling through the first half, Valpo’s offense got on track to open the third quarter. A 10-play, 70-yard drive was capped by Warren Arnold’s (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) seven-yard fade to Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.) in the right corner of the end zone, cutting Marian’s lead to 13-7.
Trailing by six heading into the fourth, Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) shouldered the load on first possession of the final quarter. He carried five times, including the last nine yards to the end zone to give the Crusaders a 14-13 advantage with 8:56 to play in the game. With that touchdown, Horton passed Ozzie Young (1991-1995) for third place all-time in a Crusader uniform with 176 career points scored.
Horton added insurance for the Crusaders on a fourth-and-two play with 1:40 to go in the game. He found a seem on the left side and raced for a touchdown, going over 150 yards rushing in the process. For the fifth-year senior, it marked his 12th career 100+ rushing game as he finished the day with 153 yards on 24 carries.
"In order for us to win, our defense needs to play the way they did, our offensive line needs to block the way they are, and Jeff needs to run the way he runs," head coach Stacy Adams said.
The Knights moved down field after starting their final drive on their own 45-yard line. Marian moved the ball to the 35, and on a fourth-and-15 at the Valpo 35 with 37 seconds left, Andrew Mack (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle H.S.) and Adam Rundh (Aalborg, Denmark/Orjanskolan H.S.) got into the backfield for a sack of quarterback Eldrin Jones to secure the Valpo victory.
"Our team showed its true character today after being down at half and battling back to win," Adams added. "Our offense and our defense played a complete game in the second half leading to the victory."
Marian jumped in front first, as William Stubbs ran around right end from four yards out for the game’s first points with 4:21 to play in the opening quarter after both teams went three-and-out on their first two possessions.
The Crusaders appeared to answer with a touchdown of their own as Horton broke free and ran 69 yards into the end zone, but the play was called back due to a blocking penalty against Valpo and the Brown and Gold eventually had to punt.
The Knights extended the lead to 10-0 with 9:39 remaining before halftime as Bryan Quackenbush connected on a 37-yard field goal following a Marian punt return that set the hosts up at the Valpo 25 yard line. Quackenbush added another 43-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining before intermission to give the Knights a 13-0 lead.
Valpo had a chance to score in the final seconds as John Popper (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman H.S.) returned the kickoff to the Marian 37-yard line. Arnold found Ogden at the Knights one-yard line with 1.8 seconds remaining before half. Horton was stopped at the line of scrimmage on the final play of the half though, and Marian went to the locker room with the 13-point lead.
The Crusaders managed just 111 yards of total offense in the first half, but finished the game with 330 yards of total offense. Arnold was 11-of-24 passing for 154 yards with Ogden making five grabs for 62 yards.
Marian finished the game with 201 total yards, but just 56 on the ground. Jones was 18-of-30 passing for 145 yards.
Valparaiso will open Pioneer Football League next Saturday against Drake. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Des Moines, Iowa with all the action carried live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.