Valparaiso rallied from a one-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to defeat Kalamazoo 38-24 on Saturday afternoon in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“We had to refocus our team to play after a tough game last week,” Valpo head coach Stacy Adams said. “Our players did just that today.”
The Hornets jumped in front on their first possession with a 22-yard field goal off the foot of Jon Rea. Following an interception that set Kalamazoo up at the Crusader three, Jordan Tallman completed a pass to Jimmy Semelsberger for a touchdown. Valpo blocked the point after attempt but the hosts led 9-0 after the opening quarter.
Following a 54-yard kickoff return by John Popper (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman H.S.), Valpo needed just four plays to get on the scoreboard. Warren Arnold (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) tossed a 30-yard scoring strike to Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.).
Arnold found Bret Jaskiw (Caro, Mich./Caro H.S.) from 14 yards out to put the Crusaders on top 13-9 with 3:26 to play before halftime. Ryan Koepke (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead H.S.) then intercepted a Hornet pass and one play later Arnold connected with Bill Burgett (Ann Arbor, Mich./Dexter H.S.) for a 38-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 remaining in the second.
Valpo’s defense forced a three-and-out, allowing the Crusader two-minute offense to move the ball in position for a Dan Van Aartsen (Brookfield, Wis./East H.S.) field goal from 35 yards out, giving the Brown and Gold a 23-9 lead at intermission.
Kalamazoo (0-1) rallied in the third quarter. Tallman threw an eight-yard pass to Chris Coriasso for a touchdown to start the second half and following the two-point conversion the Hornets were within six points. An interception by the Crusaders on Valpo’s first possession of the second half set the Hornets up in scoring position again, and Tallman threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this one to Brandon Baity from three yards out to put Kalamazoo in front 24-23 with 7:07 left in the third.
The Crusaders used a 13-play, 91-yard drive that took more than five minutes off of the clock to retake the lead. Arnold scampered the final 27 yards down the middle of the field for the touchdown, then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.) to put Valpo in front 31-24 with 12:58 to play in the game.
Following a Kyle Himmelwright (Coplay, Pa./Whitehall H.S.) interception, his first of two on the day, Valpo used another 4:45 off of the clock before Arnold threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, this one eight yards to Horton, to complete the scoring. For Horton, he moved into fourth place on the Crusaders’ career scoring list with 170 points.
Valpo finished the game with 464 yards of total offense while holding the Hornets to just 185 on the afternoon. The Crusader defense limited Kalamazoo to -34 yards on the ground. Himmelwright, who had the two interceptions, also led Valpo’s defense with 11 tackles.
“Even though it was a close game, both sides of the ball played well,” Adams said. “We had an outstanding performance by the defense holding them to negative rushing yards and less than 225 yards passing.”
Arnold, who started the game 2-of-9 passing, finished 21-of-32 for 256 yards and the four touchdowns, while also rushing 11 times for 63 yards and another score. Horton carried 26 times for 109 yards while seven different receivers made receptions.
Tallman finished 28-of-49 for 207 yards and the three touchdowns for the Hornets, but was also picked off three times. Mike Benson had 10 grabs for 98 yards to lead Kalamazoo.
The Crusaders were hurt by penalties, though, committing 12 infractions for 154 yards while also turning the ball over three times on the day.
Valparaiso (2-1) will play game three of its current four-game road trip next Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind. against Marian in a 1 p.m. CDT kickoff.