Valparaiso wrapped up its season-opening two-game road trip on Saturday afternoon, suffering a 42-7 loss to Franklin at Faught Stadium in Franklin, Ind.
Franklin’s Kyle Ray threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as the Grizzlies racked up 568 yards of total offense.
The Grizzlies struck quickly, returning the opening kickoff to the Crusader 26 yard line. Two plays later, Reece Craig went around the left side and scored from 16 yards out.
After Valpo went three-and-out, Ray completed a 66-yard pass to put the Grizzlies first-and-goal. Two plays later, Ray found Kam Silcock on the right side from seven yards out and Franklin led 14-0 just 3:36 into the game.
“I really thought we would come out ready to play today,” head coach Dale Carlson said. “Instead we came out flat. We gave them a couple of plays early and never recovered.”
The Crusaders finally found the scoreboard with 10 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. Eddie Morelli (Racine, Wis./Saint Catherines H.S.) ran right and scored from four yards out, pulling Valpo within 14-7 heading into the second quarter.
Franklin (1-1) immediately answered as Ray found Mitch Deffner in the left corner of the end zone from 11 yards out. One possession later, the duo hooked up again, this time from four yards out despite a pass interference call on the Crusaders, and the Grizzlies took a 28-7 lead into the locker room.
Valpo’s offense struggled in the second half, holding the ball for just 6:19 total while gaining 33 in the stanza.
The Grizzlies added a touchdown in each of the final two quarters to close out the scoring. Ray threw an eight-yard pass to Kyle Linville in the third while rushing for a one-yard scoring in the fourth.
Eli Crawford (Bogart, Ga./North Oconee H.S.) was one of the lone bright spots for the Crusader defense, intercepting a pair of passes, one in the end zone at the other at the Valpo 12 yard line.
“Eli’s played well two weeks in a row,” Carlson added. “He’s playing tremendous football right now.”
Valpo’s offense totaled just 209 yards of offense on the afternoon, 183 of which came through the air. Nate Goergen (Golden, Colo./Golden H.S.) completed 16-of-34 passes for 170 yards, but was intercepted once as well.
Ray completed 27-of-36 for 382 yards and the four touchdowns for the Grizzlies. Craig added 73 yards on the ground as Franklin also rushed for 169 yards.
Cody Gokan (Round Lake, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) finished with a team-high 13 tackles for the Crusaders while Alex Soller (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City H.S.) added 11 stops, including two for loss.
Valparaiso (0-2) will return home to Brown Field next Saturday evening as the Crusaders host region rival Saint Joseph’s (Ind.). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Communiversity Day at Valparaiso.
Game Notes: Gokan has 30 tackles on the season already … Crawford now has 11 career interceptions … Franklin leads the all-time series 11-3, and has won four straight meetings … Valpo recorded 14 tackles for loss on the afternoon … Mike Gerton (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) caught a 56-yard pass, Valpo’s longest offensive play of the season.