Valparaiso rolled up 449 yards of total offense, 229 on the ground and 220 through the air, on the way to a 34-10 victory over Concordia (Wis.) on Saturday afternoon on Brown Field.
Ross Wiemer (Burlington, Wis./Burlington H.S.) carried just nine times, but for 94 yards (a 10.4 average), and two touchdowns and Warren Arnold (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) threw for 170 yards and another score as the Crusaders won their home opener for the second straight season. It was also the first game Valpo has played on the newly installed ProGrass artificial turf.
“I want to thank the administration for our new ProGrass turf,” head coach Stacy Adams said. “Without it, who knows what kind of shape our field would have been in following all of the rain we have had.”
Valpo returned the opening kickoff and marched right down the field for the game’s first score as Wiemer bounced around left end and scampered into the end zone from 11 yards out to put the Brown and Gold on top 7-0.
The Crusader defense forced the Falcons to punt all three possessions in the opening quarter on a day that started warm and muggy at Brown Field.
An 11-play, 85-yard drive by Valpo that started late in the first quarter was capped by Jake Riedel’s (South Milwaukee, Wis./South Milwaukee H.S.) five-yard burst up the middle to give the Crusaders a 14-0 lead with 10:43 to play before halftime.
Concordia drove into Valpo territory on the ensuing possession, but Anthony Curry (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) made an interception at the Crusader 13-yard line, the first of three picks by Valpo defenders against Concordia quarterbacks on the afternoon.
The Crusaders took the 14-0 advantage into the locker room, but Concordia wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the second half. On the second play from scrimmage, Kaz Duran ran down the right sideline before cutting back to the middle on his way to a 63-yard touchdown run just 1:01 into the third quarter.
Valpo responded on its next drive with back-to-back big passing plays. Arnold found Steve Ogden (Wauwatosa, Wis./West H.S.) for 22 yards down to the Falcon 21 before hooking up with Ryan Myers (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton H.S.) for a 21-yard scoring strike at the 10:06 mark.
After the Valpo defense held yet again, Wiemer then found running room down the right sideline, going 69 yards for a touchdown, his second of the day. A missed extra point left the Crusaders in front 27-7 after three quarters.
A steady rain began to fall late in the third quarter and picked up in intensity as the game went along.
The final Crusader score came on a fake punt as Nicholas Henton (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle H.S.) took the short snap and found Matt Dorow (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac H.S.) over the middle. Dorow found running room and eventually the end zone for a 44-yard score with 8:28 to play in the game.
Concordia tacked on a 37-yard field goal by Daniel Winsey as time expired to cap a 17-play, 53-yard drive for the game’s final margin.
Ogden finished as Valpo’s leading receiver with four catches for 73 yards while Taylor Siolka had five grabs for 36 yards for Concordia (0-2). T.J. Pacchioli finished the game 3-of-9 with a pair of interceptions for the Falcons.
“Our offense stepped up when we needed it to and the defense played well again for us to win,” Adams said. “Winning this ball game was a total team effort.”
Sean Dillon (Oak Lawn, Ill./Mount Carmel H.S.) led Valpo with 10 tackles while Matt Watkins (Mason, Ohio/Mason H.S.) made nine stops, including 1.5 for loss and forced a fumble. Travis Pagel led Concordia with eight tackles.
Valparaiso (1-1) will return to Brown Field next Saturday afternoon for a 1 p.m. kickoff against Marian (Ind.). The game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network or online at www.valpoathletics.com.
Game Notes: Henton’s touchdown pass and Dorow’s touchdown reception were each the first of their careers … Myers made his first two collegiate catches on the day, the second one good for a touchdown … Valpo is now 48-38-2 in home openers and has won two straight … Arnold moved into ninth place all-time at Valpo with 3,337 yards of total offense … Desmond Lewis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead H.S.) made his first two collegiate catches on the day … Curry’s interception was his second of the season … this was the first meeting ever between the two Lutheran schools.