Valparaiso (3-6, 2-4 PFL)
at Dayton (7-2, 5-1 PFL)
Game #10: Saturday, Nov. 5, noon CT
Welcome Stadium (11,000 – Astroturf) – Dayton, Ohio
This Week in Crusader Football: The Valparaiso University football team hits the road for the final time this season. The Crusaders head to Dayton for a showdown with the Flyers.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders enter this week attempting to get back on track after suffering a 23-12 loss to Butler last week. Mason Sutter’s 9-yard touchdown catch from Jimmy Seewald and Jarrett Morgan’s 4-yard run accounted for Valpo’s scores. The Bulldogs ran for 275 yards, while the Crusaders totaled just 33 yards on the ground.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders will return home for the final game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 12 against Jacksonville. That one kicks off at 1 p.m. at Brown Field.
Following the Crusaders: For the 11th straight season, WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) is home to all 11 Crusader football games in 2016. Todd Ickow is back for his 26th season as Valpo’s play-by-play broadcaster, while Brandon Vickrey will add color commentary this week. Live video will also be available via Dayton Athletics. Links for the live audio, video and stats are posted on ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Dave Cecchini: Cecchini is in his third season as the head coach of the Crusaders. He enters Saturday’s game with an 8-23 record, both overall and in two-plus seasons at Valpo. In his first season as head coach of the Crusaders, Cecchini led the program to a four-win season, its highest win total since 2007. Prior to arriving at Valpo, Cecchini served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Lehigh for four years.
Series Notes: Dayton holds a 23-2 advantage in the all-time series, including a 12-1 record at Dayton. Valpo’s most recent win over Dayton and only win at Welcome Stadium came in 2003, when the Crusaders prevailed 33-28. The Flyers emerged victorious 44-14 when the two teams clashed a year ago, marking their 12th straight win in the head-to-head series. Jean Rene grabbed two touchdown passes from Ryan Clarke for the two Valpo scores. The Crusaders committed three turnovers in the third quarter to allow the Flyers to pull away.
Scouting Dayton: The lone Pioneer Football League blemish for the Flyers this season came against first-place San Diego, 34-22 on Sept. 24. The Flyers are in second place in the league and are the only team that has played a competitive game against the league-leading Toreros. The Flyers have rapped off five straight wins since starting 2-2. Dayton topped Stetson 21-10 a week ago. The Flyers have outscored the opposition 151-66 at home this season. They have gone an NCAA record 452 straight games without being shutout. Dayton can finish the season undefeated at home for the second straight year with a victory on Saturday. Quarterback Alex Jeske has thrown for 1,490 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Tucker Yinger leads the rushing attack with 533 yards on 73 carries, while Ryan Skibinski is the leading receiver with 32 receptions. Dayton ranks last in the league in passing offense (165.6 yards per game), but is third in rushing offense (188.7). The Flyers have 12 fifth-year seniors on their two-deep, eight on defense.
Holding on Tight: Saturday will be a battle of the two teams with the best turnover margins in the PFL this season. Dayton has a plus-10 margin, while Valpo ranks second in the league at plus-5. The Crusaders have lost just one fumble all season, while every other team in the league has lost four or more. Valpo’s one lost fumble ranks second in Division-I FCS, tied with Maine. The only Division-I FCS team in the nation that has not lost a fumble this season is Lehigh, where Dave Cecchini served as offensive coordinator before coming to Valpo. For comparison, the Crusaders lost 12 fumbles last season. During the 2010 season, they lost 18 fumbles. The Crusaders have lost five fumbles or more each of the last 15 years.
Diaz-Martinez Making Picks: Joey Diaz-Martinez made his team-leading fourth interception last week against Butler. He has seven in his first two seasons in a Valpo uniform. He’s one of five players in the PFL with four interceptions or more this season.
No. 41: Uniform No. 41 came through for Drew Snouffer last week, as the Valpo sophomore established a new career high for the third time this year with 17 tackles. Snouffer was wearing No. 41 instead of his usual 24 to honor Charlie Hackett, who is out for the season with a leg injury. This week, Mike Wheeler will wear No. 41.
Youthful Crusaders: Although Valpo is not as young and inexperienced of a team as it was last season, the Crusaders still have just four seniors on the roster. Marist has the second fewest seniors in the Pioneer Football League with seven, and every other PFL team has at least 12. Campbell and Davidson have the most in the PFL with 19 apiece.
Oh Captain My Captain: Valparaiso enters the 2016 season with three permanent captains: senior defensive back J.J. Nunes, junior wide receiver Frank Catrine and redshirt junior offensive lineman Brian Lang. The Crusaders will also be selecting an individual to serve as game captain for each game as well – against Dayton that will be Drew Snouffer.
Extra Tidbits: The Crusaders lead the Pioneer Football League in fewest penalties (40) and fewest penalty yards (405) allowed this season. The Crusaders have allowed 45 penalty yards per game, while the Flyers rank second at 48.2… Kellan Hughes, who has usurped Snouffer as the team’s leading tackler, had 14 last week to better a career watermark… Jimmy Seewald leads all PFL freshmen with 144.9 passing yards per game and ranks second among PFL freshmen with 11 touchdown tosses… Frank Catrine had 100 receiving yards last week, his highest output of the season.