Game #5: Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m. CDT
Valpo (3-1, 0-0 PFL)
at Drake (3-1, 0-0 PFL)
Drake Stadium (14,557 - Field Turf), Des Moines, Iowa
This Week in Crusader Football: Valparaiso wraps up its four-game road trip on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders head to Des Moines, Iowa to battle Drake in the Pioneer Football League opener for both schools. The Crusaders have won two straight and four of its last five contests dating back to the end of the 2006 season.
On the Air: For the third straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network will be home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2007. The Valpo Sports Radio Network consists of WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso), WAKE (1500-AM, Valparaiso), and WE-FM (95.9-FM, Michigan City). Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play with Josh Weinhold adding the color commentary.
Series Notes: Drake holds an 11-3 advantage in the all-time series between the two schools since their initial meeting during the 1993 campaign. The Bulldogs have won the last three times the teams have met, including last year’s 21-7 decision at Brown Field. Valpo has never beaten Drake in Des Moines, Iowa, falling each of the previous seven times.
Scouting Drake: The Bulldogs had their three-game season opening winning streak snapped last week with a 45-7 loss to #3 Northern Iowa. Earlier this year, Drake defeated #7 Illinois State on the road 27-24. Scott Phaydavong leads the Bulldog rushing attack averaging 115.2 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Cole Ingle has thrown for 570 yards on 42-of-71 passing and connected on four touchdowns. Defensively, Jacob Craig has 33 tackles to lead the way. As a team, Drake is 15th in the country in turnover margin at +5.
Last Week: Valparaiso trailed 13-0 at halftime, but rallied with three touchdowns in the final 26 minutes to defeat Marian (Ind.) 21-13 in Indianapolis, Ind. Jeff Horton rushed for 153 yards, including touchdown runs of nine and 29 yards in the fourth quarter to lead the offense. Steve Ogden also caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Warren Arnold. Arnold finished 11-of-24 for 154 yards passing as Valpo racked up 330 total yards. The defense limited Marian to just 201 total yards of offense, including just 56 on the ground. Kyle Himmelwright had 10 tackles while Doug Howard registered three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Crusaders Among Nation’s Top Defenses: Valparaiso currently ranks 2nd in NCAA Division I-FCS in both total defense and rushing defense. The Crusaders currently are allowing just 36.50 yards per game on the ground and 215.75 yards per game total. Ironically, the Crusaders do not lead the Pioneer Football League in either category as Morehead State is giving up -2.67 yards per game on the ground and Dayton is allowing just 214.0 yards per game total.
Horton Holds School Rushing Record, Nearing 3,000 Yards: Fifth-year senior running back Jeff Horton became Valparaiso’s all-time leading rusher last season, passing Joe Pahr (1949-1951). Horton has already increased his total this season with 496 yards in the first three games. He now has 2,925 career rushing yards, just 75 yards shy of 3,000 wearing the Brown and Gold uniform.
Valpo in PFL Openers: Valparaiso is 5-9 in its previous 14 Pioneer Football League openers. The Crusaders have won two straight following a 42-35 victory at Morehead State last year. Valpo downed Butler on the road in the 2005 opener. This is the sixth time Drake has served as the Crusaders’ first league opponent. Valpo has not opened a PFL season at home since 2004.
Ogden Among Valpo’s Top-10 All-Time in Receiving: Steve Ogden has moved into a tie for 6th place on Valpo’s career receiving list with 1,600 yards, matching Doug Holok’s total from 1990-1994. Ogden is just 36 yards shy of the Crusaders’ top-five in receiving as Bert Bleke (1964-1966) tallied 1,636 yards in his three-year career. Kevin Knutson (2001-2004) ranks fourth all-time with 2,308 yards.
Horton Moves Into Fourth on All-Time Scoring List: With Jeff Horton’s 12 points at Kalamazoo, he now has 182 career points moving him into third place all-time in a Crusader uniform past Ozzie Young (1991-1995). Horton needs 60 more points for the school record. Rob Giancola (2000-2004) is the school record-holder with 242 points while Joe Pahr (1949-1951) is second eight points behind Giancola.
Horton Registers 12th 100-Yard Game: Jeff Horton rushed for 153 yards in Valpo’s victory over Marian (Ind.) last Saturday afternoon, his third 100+ rushing day of the year. For his career, the fifth-year senior has rushed for more than 100 yards 12 times, tied for 10th among all active players in NCAA I-FCS. Among I-FCS mid-majors, only Scott Phaydavong of Drake has more 100 yard games (28).
Crusaders Set School Rushing Record in Opener: Valparaiso broke a 53-year old single game rushing record with 389 yards on the ground in the season opener against Saint Francis (Ill.). The Crusaders carried the ball 59 times in the game, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Valpo’s previous best rushing day was at DePauw on October 16, 1954 when the Crusaders tallied 387 yards.
Good Work Gets Rewarded for Watkins: Matt Watkins has been recognized for his efforts in the community, having been named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. He has participated in "Read for Fun Day" activities at Central Elementary School, helped raise money and walked in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life as well as participating in the Merrillville Diabetes Walk.
Himmelwright Earns Player of the Week Honors: Starting cornerback Kyle Himmelwright was named the Pioneer Football League’s Defensive Player of the Week on September 17 following his play at Kalamazoo. The redshirt-sophomore led the Crusaders will 11 tackles, including 10 solos, while also intercepting a pair of passes. His second interception started Valpo’s go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
Valpo Picked Eighth in Preseason Poll: The Crusaders were selected to finish eighth place in the Pioneer Football League this season according to the head coaches. The PFL champion will face the Northeast Conference champion in the Gridiron Classic at year’s end.