The Valparaiso University football team dominated every aspect of a 49-15 victory over Marist on a stormy Saturday at Brown Field. The Crusader defense set the tone by forcing six turnovers including five interceptions, and the offense did the rest, racking up 475 total yards and scoring 49 points against a Marist program against whom Valpo had scored a total of 28 points in six all-time meetings before Saturday.
How It Happened
- For the second consecutive week, the Crusaders had a big play defensively in the early going. Sophomore Austin Petrie (Livonia, Mich. / Stevenson) intercepted a Marist pass at the goal line in Valpo territory, allowing the Crusaders to take over on their own 5-yard line.
- The first Valpo drive resulted in a punt, then the Red Foxes marched all the way down to the Valpo 4-yard line before eventually settling for a 23-yard field goal by Joe Giglio that put Marist ahead 3-0 with 4:13 left in the first quarter.
- The Crusaders had a quick response as Jimmy Seewald (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child) utilized a free play with Marist flagged for offside to complete a 70-yard touchdown pass to Parker Fox (Winamac, Ind. / Winamac), giving Valpo a 7-3 lead with 4:32 left in the first after a one-play, nine-second drive.
- Lightning in the area caused a delay with 2:49 left in the first quarter and Valpo leading 7-3.
- The first drive after the resumption of play resulted in a Marist interception, allowing the Red Foxes to take over on their own 19. However, the defense got a quick stop and forced a Marist punt.
- The Crusaders notched another turnover early in the second quarter when Drew Snouffer (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington) made an interception, giving the Crusaders prime field position at the Marist 23. However, the Valpo drive quickly stalled as the Crusaders went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Marist 14 and failed to convert, resulting in a turnover on downs.
- In the middle of the second quarter, the Crusaders embarked on a 9-play, 55-yard drive that featured a 14-yard grab by JD Koehler (St. Charles, Mo. / Francis Howell) and a steady diet of Cody Boxrucker (West Chester, Ohio / Badin) rushes before culminating with a 5-yard touchdown run by Jarrett Morgan (Cooper City, Fla. / Cooper City) with 7:36 left in the second quarter.
- The game went back on a lightning delay with the Crusaders leading 14-3 with 7:28 left in the second.
- Valpo attempted a 20-yard field goal late in the second quarter, but the attempt was blocked to keep the score 14-3 Valpo.
- The first drive after an abridged halftime resulted in points for Valpo, as Kyle Cartales (Loxahatchee, Fla. / Cardinal Newman) broke free for a 24-yard run down to the Marist 3, then finished the job with a 3-yard TD plunge to make it 21-3 with 10:53 left in the third.
- The ensuing drive ended abruptly when Josmar Diaz-Martinez (Miramar, Fla. / Miramar) made an interception at the Valpo 7-yard line and returned it to the 23.
- After a Valpo punt, the Red Foxes got the ball back and climbed back into the game with one play – a 40-yard pass from quarterback Mike White to Juston Christian for a touchdown. That made it 21-9 with 7:26 left in the third.
- Valpo went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Marist 38 and Seewald came through, completing a 38-yard TD pass to Griffin Norberg (Sunrise, Fla. / Western) to boost the lead to 28-9 with 5:54 to play in the third.
- After a Marist punt, the Crusaders found the end zone again, this time on a 37-yard Seewald heave that was hauled in by Bailey Gessinger (Napanee, Ind. / Northwood) to break it open at 35-9 with 4:06 remaining in the third.
- The Valpo defense continued to lock down when the second play of the next Marist drive resulted in a Jalin LeAndre (West Park, Fla. / Hallandale) interception at the Valpo 29.
- Freshman Dilan Scargle (Dundin, Fla. / Clearwater Central Catholic) was the driving force of the Valpo defense in the fourth quarter. First, he recovered a Marist fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to boost Valpo’s lead to 42-9 with 13:40 remaining in the fourth. He ended the next Marist drive as well, intercepting a pass on the Valpo 29.
- Boxrucker rapped off a 34-yard TD run with 7:32 left in the fourth to account for the game’s final score.
Inside the Game
- The 34-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest in a league game since Nov. 6, 1971, when head coach Norm Amundsen’s team defeated Butler 48-12 in Indiana Collegiate Conference action.
- Five different Valpo players intercepted passes in the game. The Crusader defense had more interceptions in Saturday’s game (five) than it had in the first six games of the season combined (four).
- Fox’s touchdown reception was his second career TD grab. Both of his scoring catches have gone for 70 yards or more. Gessinger’s TD catch was also his second of both the season and his career, while Norberg’s was his third of the year and the seventh receiving score of his career.
- With Saturday’s performance, Seewald has cracked Valpo’s career Top 10 as only a sophomore. He surpassed Ben Lehman (2011-14) to move into the Top 10.
- Petrie and LeAndre both recorded the first interception of their Crusader careers, while Scargle notched his second. Snouffer’s pick was his first of the season and the third of his career, while Diaz-Martinez grabbed his first of the year and the ninth of his career.
- The Crusaders accomplished the feat of having three different players run for touchdowns. Morgan’s TD run was his first rushing score of the season and the sixth of his career. Boxrucker’s was his seventh of the year and the 14th of his Valpo career as only a sophomore. Cartales had his fifth career TD overall and his third running score.
- The Crusaders beat a team picked to finish in the Top 3 in the PFL for the first time since Oct. 11, 2008 (W 35-29 OT vs. Davidson) and enjoyed their third straight home PFL victory dating back to last year’s season finale against Jacksonville, Valpo’s first such streak since 2000.
- The game was disrupted by a pair of lightning delays, totaling three hours, 36 minutes. The game kicked off at 1:04 p.m. and finished at 7:07.
- Seewald went 17-for-28 for 262 yards and three scores. Fox was Valpo’s leading receiver with four receptions for 109 yards.
- Punter Alex Ng (Royal Palm Beach, Fla. / Wellington Community) had a strong performance, booting five punts for 195 yards, an average of 39 yards per punt and a long of 53. He pinned two of the five punts inside the 20.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Cecchini
“It was as satisfying of a victory as I’ve had in my tenure year as the head football coach here. It was a win, and we did it in every way you want to win a football game. We did it with offense, we did it with defense and we did it with special teams. We did it by winning the turnover battle, we did it by winning the penalty battle. We made plays in critical down and distance situations. We did a great job in the red zone. It was an incredible performance against a team that is very talented. To be able to get a win with the score differential as wide as it was and dominate in that type of fashion – it’s one thing when you’re doing it against an NAIA program, but it’s another thing when you’re doing it against a team that a lot of people picked at the top of the PFL. Hats off to our players and how they handled the adversity. We talked a lot last night about focus. I think our coaches did an excellent job during two really long lightning delays. Our players did an outstanding job with their calm, composure and enthusiasm. They handled the breaks well, and came out with an energy that was infectious. The defense would make a play, and then the offense would make a play, then special teams would come up big. It was a great victory, and if we can play with this type of mentality and this type of execution, we’re going to win a lot of football games for the remainder of the season."
The Crusaders will enjoy a bye week next week before returning to action on Saturday, Oct. 28 against Morehead State at 1 p.m. CT at Brown Field.