On a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Brown Field, fans got to catch a glimpse of things to come next fall for the Valparaiso football team. For fans of high scoring games, Saturday’s 15th Annual Brown and Gold game required a calculator and a sheet breaking down all of the possible scoring options for the 2015 Crusaders. With only 54 healthy bodies, head coach Dave Cecchini and his staff used a modified scoring system to reward both the offense and defense. The home Brown offensive team would defeated the visiting Gold defensive team, 71-44. The game and play clock were not in use, while the offense started at either the 30, 40, 25, or 35 yard lines.
After the first three drives in the “first quarter” for the Brown team produced no tradition scoring, things got clicking in the first drive of the “second quarter.” After a false start, Grayson Bastin (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) busted out of the backfield and broke a couple of tackles for an 11 yard gain. He picked up a first down off a three yard burst the next play. After a six yard pickup by Bastin, quarterback Scott Staal (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) found Ryan Shea (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch) for a 20 yard pickup on a screen play to get the Brown team down to the 23 yard line.
Staal then feed the ball back to Bastin for an eight yard gain before hitting Frank Catrine (Springboro, Ohio/Bishop Fenwick) for a first down just outside the ten yard line. Staal then found Matt Mallon (Rockford, Ill./East) out of the backfield to set up a first and goal from the one before Jake Hutson (Blanchard, Mich./Montabella) pounded it in for the first touchdown to give the offense a 27-17 lead.
Dalton Stokes (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach) came in under center on the next drive and found Shea for a 44 yard hookup on the first play to get the ball down to the 16 yard line. Stokes then kept it for a six yard pickup before Nick Scoville (Indianapolis, Ind./Scecina Memorial) said hello with a monster stop in the backfield to force a third and four. After a short pickup on the ground, Stokes threw to Mallon to try and convert the fourth and one, but was denied by Brandon Riley (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park) on the pass breakup.
Starting from the 25, Bastin opened the second half with three straight runs for the Brown team to get to their own 40. Shea then showed off the wheels with a 12 yard gain on the jet sweep around the left side to get across midfield. Three plays and a holding play later, the offense was faced with a first and 20. Catrine then took a screen pass from Stokes 47 yards down the sideline while eluding several Gold team defenders for the touchdown to put the Brown team up, 45-24.
Ryan Clarke (Hopatcong, N.J./Hopatcong) led the last scoring drive for the Brown team three series later. Starting at their own 35, he found Shea for a short screen pass before Hutson picked up the first down running right up the gut. A 13 yard strike to Shea three two plays later set up the offense at the Gold team’s 32 yard line. Clarke then spun out of what looked like a sure sack and took off to his left for a 13 pickup. Four plays later, Hutson took the handoff from Clarke and scampered in from 11 yards out for his second touchdown of the afternoon to put the Brown team up 64-37.
While the offense light up the scoreboard, the Gold defense brought the hammer all afternoon. Charlie Hackett (St. Louis, Mo./Chaminade College Prep.) finished the day with a one and a half sacks and a pass breakup, while John Guilford (Spencer, Ohio/Black River) added a sack of his own. Scoville would tack on two tackles for loss and half a sack.
Kellan Hughes (Cicero, Ind./Hamilton Heights) had a nice day in the secondary as well, picking off Stokes in the end zone on the final play of the day.
Valpo had scripted kicking and punting sessions in between each “quarter”, but action was not live.
The Crusaders will have their 15th and final practice of the spring on Monday afternoon. The Brown and Gold kick off their 2015 campaign on road against Eastern Kentucky on Thursday, Sept. 3, with kickoff at 6:00 pm CT. The Colonels are a FSC scholarship program who finished 9-4 last season, losing in the first round of the FCS Playoffs to Indiana State. Coach Cecchini’s squad will open their home slate nine days later when they welcome Sacred Heart to Brown Field. Game time is set for 1:00 pm.