Valparaiso opened the 2010 season on Thursday evening, falling
45-0 to Western Illinois in a game played in a driving rain storm in Macomb, Ill.
“The weather caused a few
snap issues, but for the most part those are concentration things,” head coach Dale Carlson said. “That wasn’t the difference in the game
though. Our expectation is to play for
60 minutes, and we need all 11 guys to play each play on offense, defense, and
Valpo picked up one first
down on the opening drive of the game before being forced to punt and Western Illinois responded, scoring first on its opening
drive. An 11-play, 66-yard drive, ended
with Caulton Ray finding the end zone through left tackle from three yards out
with 7:11 to play in the opening quarter.
The Leathernecks added a
36-yard field goal by Charlie Jouett on its second drive, taking a 10-0 lead
into the second quarter.
Valpo then moved the ball
into Western Illinois territory for the first
time as the opening quarter wound down. Starting
the drive at their own 18, the Crusaders picked up a couple of first downs as Nate Goergen (Golden, Colo./Golden
H.S.) completed four passes, moving the Brown and Gold down to the Leathernecks
However, the Crusaders
were forced to punt after failing to convert on a third-and-seven.
Illinois drove down to the Crusader 37 on the ensuing drive, three
straight incompletions, the last on fourth down, gave Valpo the football
back. Eli Crawford (Bogart,
Ga./North Oconee H.S.) nearly
picked off two of the passes on the drive.
Valpo again drove into Western Illinois territory, moving inside the 20 while
taking advantage of two Leatherneck penalties.
A penalty on Valpo pushed the ball back, and on fourth-and-18 Goergen’s
pass to the end zone was just out of the reach of an open Desmond Lewis (Fort Wayne,
The Leathernecks again moved
down field to the Valpo 16, but Jouett’s 33-yard field goal went wide left with
2:22 to play before halftime. Taking over
following the miss, Valpo gave the ball right back to the Leathernecks at the
Crusader 15 on a fumble. Two plays later,
Josh Gabelmann hauled in an eight-yard pass on the right sideline from Matt
Barr for a touchdown and Western Illinois took a 17-0 lead into the locker
“During every game there are
going to be five to six plays you have to make and we just didn’t make them
tonight,” Carlson said. “We have to learn
how to overcome those things.”
A flee-flicker on Western Illinois’ second drive of the third quarter saw
Barr connect with Lito Senatus from 63 yards out for a touchdown to put the
Leathernecks on top 24-0 less than four minutes into the second half.
Valpo’s defense remained
strong for the rest of the third quarter though, forcing three punts and
stopping the Leathernecks on fourth down yet again. The Crusader offense could not move the ball
either though, as Valpo tallied just seven yards total in the period.
“The defense in the third
quarter played really well,” Carlson said.
“I think they just eventually got worn down.”
Illinois scored three more
touchdowns in the final quarter. Bryce
Flowers had scoring runs of 31 and 16 yards while Gabelmann found the end zone
from four yards out. Two of the scores
came following Crusader turnovers.
“When you’re playing in this
type of game (against a NCAA I-FCS scholarship program), you can’t turn the
ball over,” Carlson added. “They got 21
points off of turnovers tonight.”
Illinois (1-0) finished the
game with 569 yards of total offense, including 339 on the ground. Valpo managed just 131 yards for the night,
82 of which came through the air.
Goergen finished 13-of-24 for
81 yards while Sean McCarty (Waukesha, Wis./West
H.S.) making four grabs for 32 yards. Isaac Wildermuth (Sidney, Ohio/Upper
Arlington H.S.) led the way on the ground with 11 carries for 32 yards.
Barr completed 15-of-30
passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns for the Leathernecks, including four
passes to Senatus for 86 yards. Flowers
carried 21 times for a game-high 128 yards.
Cody Gokan (Round Lake, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) led Valpo defensively with 17
tackles, including 10 solo stops.
Valparaiso (0-1) will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 11,
as the Crusaders head to Franklin, Ind. to battle Franklin
College. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. CDT.
Game Notes: This
was the first meeting ever between Valpo and Western Illinois … the
Leathernecks were the first Division I scholarship program the Crusaders have
played since 2005 … punter Greg Wood (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville H.S.) averaged 40.1 yards
per punt in his collegiate debut, including a long of 55 … three of the punts
landed inside the 20 … 10,104 tickets were sold for the game, although the
actual attendance was considerably less.