Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) and Warren Arnold (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) combined to rush for 339 yards and four touchdowns as Valparaiso opened the 2007 season with a 28-21 victory over Saint Francis (Ill.) at Brown Field on Saturday afternoon.
Horton carried 26 times for 167 yards and three scores while also catching four passes for 73 yards, while moving into ninth place on the Crusaders’ all-time scoring list with 156 career points. Arnold, starting for just the second time in his collegiate career, rushed for 172 yards on 20 carries while also completing 10-of-16 passes for 130 yards.
The Fighting Saints struck first just 2:51 into the new campaign as Sean Hughes caught a three-yard touchdown pass from John Goolsby. Valpo answered on its ensuing possession, though. A 30-yard completing from Arnold to Horton set the Crusaders up at the Saint Francis 22, and four plays later Horton scored on a four-yard run.
Late in the opening quarter the Fighting Saints scored again, as Javon Stewart scored from seven yards out. Again the Crusaders responded on the next possession. An 11-play, 60-yard drive was capped by Horton’s six-yard run with 11:28 to play in the second, and the Crusaders and Fighting Saints eventually went into the locker room tied at 14.
Valpo scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter. Horton’s 1-run run at the 10:48 mark of the third put the Crusaders in front for the first time on the afternoon. After a 3-and-out by the Brown and Gold’s defense, Valpo marched 80 yards in eight plays, capped by an eight-yard run from Arnold, giving the Crusaders a 28-14 lead.
Saint Francis (0-1) cut the deficit in half early in the third quarter as Goolsby found Hughes again, this time from seven yards out with 12:17 remaining. The Fighting Saints were threatening to tie the game late, with a first-and-goal from the Valpo eight inside of three minutes. A fumble by Jeremiah Jobe was recovered by David Wright (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville H.S.), allowing Valpo to take over. Arnold and Horton each had runs of more than 30 yards in the final drive, as the Crusaders ran out the clock to wrap up their third straight season-opening victory.
“Credit needs to go to both of our lines, the offensive and defensive,” head coach Stacy Adams said afterwards. “They helped us earn this victory with their outstanding play.”
Valpo finished the game with 505 yards of total offense, including 389 yards on the ground. Saint Francis was held to just 254 total yards, including seven tackles for loss. Goolsby led the Fighting Saints with 186 yards passing, including 66 to Hughes.
Defensively, Matt Watkins (Mason, Ohio/Mason H.S.) led the way with eight tackles and a fumble recovery for the Brown and Gold while Clayton Norberg had 13 stops, including 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage. He also forced a pair of fumbles and recovered one loose ball.
Valparaiso (1-0) will look for its second straight win next Saturday as the Crusaders head to Deerfield, Ill. to battle Trinity International. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.