Each team had a touchdown in the first 10 minutes, but it was all field goals from then on out on Saturday afternoon at Brown Field. Charleston produced four field goals to Valpo’s two, accounting for a 19-13 win for the Golden Eagles on Homecoming Saturday at Valparaiso University. The Valpo defense forced three first-half turnovers to highlight the day for the hosts.
How It Happened
- Turnovers were key to Valpo’s first-half success, and that started when Nick Turner (Gurnee, Ill. / Warren Township) forced a fumble and recovered it at the Charleston 15-yard line with 10:14 left in the first quarter.
- The forced fumble led to a scoring drive as a Jimmy Seewald (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child) rush for 10 yards helped set the stage for a Seewald to Alex Kluck (Cedarburg, Wis. / Cedarburg) 3-yard touchdown completion.
- The initial lead was short-lived as the Golden Eagles embarked on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at seven. It finished with a 10-yard TD pass from Brant Grisel to Termaine Ross.
- Senior Jamari Booker (Kentwood, Mich. / East Kentwood) grabbed an interception and returned it 30 yards to the Charleston 30-yard line with 12:53 left in the second quarter.
- Once again, a turnover led to points as Dimitrios Latsonas (Westmont, Ill. / Westmont) knocked in a go-ahead 30 yarder, Valpo’s first made field goal of the season. That allowed Valpo to inch ahead 10-7 with 10:33 to go in the second quarter.
- Latsonas doubled the lead by converting another field goal, this one from 42 yards out with 3:47 left in the second.
- Booker made his second interception of the game with 1:59 to go in the first half, stopping a red-zone chance with a pick in the end zone.
- The Golden Eagles (3-1) cut the lead to three going into halftime when Tim McCutchen sent a 28-yard try through the uprights on the final play of the second quarter to make it 13-10.
- Each of Valpo’s first two drives in the second half resulted in punts, and Charleston capitalized with a pair of field goals. McCutchen’s 39 yarder tied it before his 20-yard try pushed the Golden Eagles ahead 16-13 with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
- McCutchen continued the field-goal fest by hitting from 41 yards with 14:42 left in the fourth quarter, extending the Charleston lead to 19-13.
- Vapo started its final drive from its own 1-yard line, knowing it needed to go 99 yards to erase a six-point deficit and win the game. The team picked up three first downs on the drive including a rush for two yards by Seewald on a 4th-and-1 from the Charleston 44. However, the drive stalled as a rush for no gain was followed by three incomplete passes, and the Golden Eagles hung on for the win.
Inside the Game
- Booker had a two-interception game, his first two picks of the season, lifting his career total to five.
- Entering Saturday, just 18 players in Division-I FCS had multi-interception games this season and none in the PFL before Booker.
- Latsonas had his best day of the year in the field-goal game, going 2-for-2 for his first two makes of the season.
- Turner was the team’s leading tackler, racking up 12 including 2.5 TFL. He also forced a fumble and recovered that same fumble. The fifth-year senior was one tackle shy of a career high, which was set in the 2017 Homecoming game against Stetson.
- Kluck had two receptions for 30 yards including the 3-yard TD grab. It was his first career score.
- Redshirt freshman Trey Psota (Bay Village, Ohio / Bay) joined Turner in double figures in the tackle column with 11.
Thoughts from Head Coach Landon Fox
“Just like I told the guys in the locker room, I thought we let one slip away in terms of our ability to win the game. We need to do a better job of being more efficient on offense. That doesn’t mean we need to score a bunch of points, but we need to find ways to move the chains.”
“We have to be more consistent on special teams. We had a successful fake punt against us, we stepped out of bounds on a kickoff return, and you can’t have those mistakes and win a football game against a good team. Charleston is a talented team that came in with a 2-1 record, so we needed to execute better to beat them.”
“Defensively, I thought we executed. We were pretty efficient, but we’ll have to go back and take a look at the film. Our goal is to get better every day in all aspects of the game leading into PFL play next week.”
Valpo (0-4) will begin Pioneer Football League play next week by visiting Drake on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Des Moines. The game will be broadcast on Bulldog Vision and on WVUR 95.1 FM Valparaiso, which is also available via the TuneIn Radio App. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available.