Morehead State (4-5, 2-3 PFL)
at Valparaiso (1-8, 1-4 PFL)
Game #10 Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, 1 p.m. CT
Brown Field (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Valpo Football: The Valparaiso University football team has put together its best showings of the year over the last two weeks and will look to gain a second straight home win on Saturday afternoon at Brown Field. Morehead State comes to town for the season’s penultimate home date, a battle of teams that tied in the Pioneer Football League’s preseason poll.
Previously: Valpo came from 14-0 down to level Saturday’s game at Davidson at 21 all, but the Wildcats scored with two minutes remaining to capture a 27-21 victory. Valpo forced four fumbles in the game and received career-high tackle outputs from a trio of players – Jamari Booker (21), Nick Turner (14) and Kolton Sherman (10). The offense put together perhaps the team’s best drive of the season in the first half, going 65 yards on 18 plays while running 9:14 off the clock. The team converted four fourth downs for the day, including three on that drive. Deuce Larose had an eight-yard touchdown grab, while Chris Duncan and Cody Boxrucker both ran for scores.
Following Valpo Football: Like all home games this season, Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on ESPN+, which is available on a subscription basis for $4.99 per month. Dave Huseman (play-by-play) and Brian Jennings (color commentary) will have the call this week as they fill in for Todd Ickow, who will be handling basketball duties. Ben Ariano (play-by-play) and Danny Dalenberg (color commentary) will have the radio call on 95.1 FM Valparaiso – WVUR, which is also available online and via the TuneIn Radio app. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Forcing Fumbles: The Valpo defense forced four fumbles on Nov. 2 at Davidson, just the 12th time in the FCS nation this season that a team has forced four or more fumbles in a single game. The last time Valpo had even forced three in a contest was Sept. 30, 2017 vs. Stetson, and the four forced fumbles marked the most since Sept. 12, 2015 at Sacred Heart.
Keeping Drives Alive: Valpo had four fourth-down conversions on Nov. 2 at Davidson, becoming one of 21 teams nationally in FCS with four or more fourth-down conversions in a single game this season. Valpo went for it on fourth down six times in the game against the Wildcats, the second time they’ve done so this year (Central Connecticut). The four fourth down conversions were the most in a single game by Valpo since Oct. 8, 2016 vs. Drake (five).
- The standout performances from senior defensive back Jamari Booker continued to come on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Davidson, when he achieved a career-high 21 tackles while also forcing two fumbles, picking up one TFL and receiving a pair of QB hurries.
- The 21 tackles eclipsed his previous career high set on Sept. 29, 2018 vs. Davidson (20), which was Valpo’s first 20-tackle game since at least 2001. He became the first PFL player with 21 tackles in a game since Donald Payne of Stetson on Nov. 8, 2014 vs. Marist. In addition, Booker – who wears jersey No. 20 – became the second PFL player since 2002 with multiple career games of 20 tackles or more, joining Payne, who did so on three occasions, all during the 2014 campaign.
- Entering the action on Nov. 2, just one player nationally in FCS had more than 20 tackles in a game this season – Ja’Quay Pough of Northwestern State on Oct. 26. However, Booker was one of three players with more than 20 tackles on Nov. 2, joining John Staton (Samford, 22) and Sidney Otiwu (Mercer, 21), making him one of four players in the nation with 21 or more tackles in a game this season.
- Booker is the only player in FCS who has a 20-tackle showing both this year and last year. He’s one of three players in the entire Division-I nation – FBS or FCS – with a 20-tackle accumulation in both 2018 and 2019.
- The two forced fumbles in the Nov. 2 game against the Wildcats were also noteworthy as he is one of 29 players nationally in FCS with multiple forced fumbles in a single game this season.
- Booker was named the Pioneer Football League Defensive Player of the Week, STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week and the College Sports Madness FCS National Defensive Player of the Week after his 13-tackle, two-interception performance in a 19-10 victory over Stetson on Oct. 26. It was his second two-interception game of the year, making him the third player in the FCS nation with two multiple-pick showings in 2019. At that point in the year, there had been five instances of a PFL player having two interceptions in a game in 2019, and Booker accounted for two of them.
- He is up to 8.7 tackles per game and 78 total tackles, jumping all the way to second in the PFL in both areas after his performance against Davidson.
Close Calls: Valpo dropped a one-score game for the second time this season on Nov. 2 at Davidson. The 27-21 loss was the team’s second six-point defeat of the year, with the first coming 19-13 on Sept. 28 vs. Charleston. Over the last two seasons, Valpo is 0-5 in games decided by seven points or fewer. Last year, Valpo had three losses by seven points or fewer in the same season for the first time since 2003. The 2018 squad incurred a three-point loss at Duquesne, a five-point defeat to Davidson and a seven-point setback to Morehead State. In addition, Valpo and Davidson continued a tradition of playing close contests this season. It was the fourth straight meeting decided by seven points or fewer, and seven of the last eight showdowns have been dictated by eight points or fewer.
Touchdown Tracker: Valpo running back Cody Boxrucker reached a commendable milestone on Nov. 2 at Davidson, as the senior scored the 20th rushing TD of his career. He is one of 33 active players in the FCS nation with 20 or more. Speaking of running for touchdowns with regularity, that’s what quarterback Chris Duncan has done over the last four weeks. He has five rushing scores in that span including at least one in each of those weeks. The redshirt junior is up to nine career rushing TDs to go along with his 19 passing scores.
Career Count: Nick Turner’s career tackle total is up to 239 as he has now eclipsed 50 tackles in a season for the third time in his career. His 101 during the 2017 campaign marked a career high, while his current season total is the exact number he had in 2016. With his career-high 14 tackles on Nov. 2 at Davidson, Turner lifted his season total to second on the team behind only Booker. The Gurnee, Ill. native ranks 28th among active players in Division-I FCS in total career tackles.
Latsonas in Climbing PFL Chart: In addition to his 87 career PATs marking a school record, senior kicker Dimitrios Latsonas has made more field goals than any other Valpo kicker since the program joined the Pioneer Football League in 1993. Latsonas has cracked the all-time PFL Top 10 for career field goal makes with 29. He is tied with Butler’s Jonathan Treloar (2012-2015) for ninth. Interestingly enough, three of the current Top 10 in PFL history in career made fields goals are active players with Butler’s Drew Bevelhimer third with 43 and Stetson’s Jonny Messina tied for sixth with 33.
Flag-Free Football: Valpo did not commit any penalties in the Oct. 19 game in San Diego, the first time since Nov. 1, 2014 at Dayton that the team played flag free. Valpo has committed just 36 penalties all season, the fewest in the PFL and the sixth-fewest in the FCS nation. The team ranks sixth nationally and first in the PFL in fewest penalties per game at 4.00. In addition, the Brown & Gold rank 10th nationally in penalty yards against at 329 and seventh in penalty yards against per game at 36.56. They lead the PFL in all penalty-related categories.
Series Notes: The Eagles lead an all-time series that began in 1996 by a lopsided count of 20-4. Valpo dropped last year’s game 31-24, one that featured a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Bailey Gessinger. Valpo outscored Morehead State 17-3 in the fourth quarter and recovered an onside kick with 1:19 remaining, but the Eagles survived the comeback bid thanks to a game-sealing interception. The most recent Brown Field matchup resulted in a 63-32 Valpo victory on Oct. 28, 2017, a game where Valpo racked up 597 yards of offense and achieved its highest scoring output since 1996.
Scouting Morehead State: Morehead State and Valpo were even in the PFL Preseason Poll, with each team garnering 15 points, tied for ninth. The Eagles’ lone representative on the Preseason All-PFL team was offensive lineman Josh Poe. Morehead State has wins over Jacksonville and Butler in PFL play, but has followed up consecutive triumphs with consecutive defeats, falling to Drake (36-17) and Dayton (49-35) the last two weeks. The shootout with the Flyers last week featured 1,037 total offensive yards combined between the two teams. Morehead State quarterback Mark Pappas went 23-of-42 for a career-high 354 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 220 passing yards per game this season, while the team’s top rusher is Issiah Aguero, averaging 71.9 yards on the ground per game and 5.7 per carry. Landon Hurst has caught five touchdown passes and is averaging 58.9 receiving yards per game to lead the receiving corps. The team’s top tackler is Justin Benvie, who has 61 tackles in nine contests. Morehead State head coach Rob Tenyer was elevated to the top job prior to the 2013 season after previously serving as an assistant coach at MSU for 12 years. He is also the team’s offensive coordinator.
Centennial Season: In addition to marking the start of a new head coaching tenure, 2019 is a significant season for Valpo football as the program is set to celebrate its 100-year history over the course of the campaign. Valpo Athletics is set to recognize individuals and teams from select eras at four games this season. The program has won 11 conference championships, including six in the Indiana Collegiate Conference and two in the Pioneer Football League. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the 1969 team that won an ICC crown, an anniversary that was celebrated at the Homecoming game on Sept. 28. In addition, Valpo retired the numbers of two University legends on Saturday at Brown Field. Garry Puetz ’73 and Fuzzy Thurston ’56 (posthumous) became the first players in program history to have their numbers retired. The use of No. 80 has been discontinued in honor of Thurston, while No. 71 has been retired for Puetz. Both were All-Americans in college and went on to win Super Bowl rings in the NFL – Puetz with Washington in 1982 and Thurston with the Green Bay Packers in the first two Super Bowls, his fifth and sixth NFL Championships.
Honoring an Era: The modern teams of 2000-2019 will be featured on Saturday as the program’s 100-year celebration continues. The modern era is highlighted by Pioneer Football League Championship seasons in 2000 and 2003 under head coach Tom Horne. Valpo used league wins over San Diego, Dayton and Butler to capture its first PFL championship in 2000 before battling out a 54-42 win over Morehead State in the 2003 PFL title game at Brown Field to cap an 8-4 season. There will once again be a tailgate area for football alums in attendance for the game against the Eagles.
A Special (Teams) Honor: Kicker Dimitrios Latsonas took home the special teams honors following Valpo’s win over Stetson on Oct. 26. He converted four field goals with two of them coming from 40 yards or longer and accounted for 13 of the team’s 19 points. The senior was the first PFL player to make four field goals in a game this season and one of 17 in the nation to do so at that point in the year. He was the first Valpo kicker with a four-field goal showing since Andrew McCawley had four at Butler on Nov. 8, 2003. Latsonas’ success didn’t end with field goals, as he averaged 62 yards per kickoff on six boots including three touchbacks.
Dual Honors: The last time Valpo won two of the three PFL weekly awards in the same week was Sept. 5, 2016, when Kellan Hughes (Defensive Player) and Jake Simpson (Special Teams) were both honored after a game against Illinois State. That was also the last time a Valpo player earned the PFL Defensive Player of the Week Award. Booker was named PFL Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career, while Latsonas previously won PFL Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 12, 2017.
Better Earley Than Late: Elias Earley posted a career-high 112 rushing yards on 22 carries to lead the team on Oct. 26 vs. Stetson. His previous personal best was 75 yards on Nov. 10, 2018 vs. Jacksonville. Earley came into Valpo as a wide receiver and did not play as a freshman in 2015 before appearing in just three games as a redshirt freshman in 2016. After moving to running back, he saw action in eight games and had 27 carries in 2017 before receiving 43 carries over eight games in 2018. He elected to return as a fifth-year senior and has already seen the heaviest workload of his career, leading the team in rushing yards (266) and attempts (59) while averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 33.2 per game.
Best Win Since: The Stetson Hatters came into Brown Field with a 5-1 record on Oct. 26, and left with their second loss of the year. It was the first time Valpo beat a team that stood at 5-1 or better since Oct. 18, 2003, when Valpo knocked off a 5-1 San Diego squad at Brown Field.
Stopping Stetson: Valpo held the Hatters to just 10 points in the Oct. 26 matchup, the fewest allowed by the defense since beating Dayton 8-7 on Nov. 18, 2017. This was just the fourth time (third against a D1 opponent) Valpo has allowed 10 points or fewer in a game in the last 19 seasons. Making matters more impressive, Stetson entered the contest ranked first in the FCS nation in total offense and scoring offense. After permitting 10 points in the opening quarter against the Hatters, the team strung together three consecutive goose eggs in the remaining periods.
Home Sweet Home: Quarterback Chris Duncan made his return to his home state on Oct. 19 at San Diego. The Woodland Hills, Calif. native scampered across the goal line from 12 and 6 yards out with both coming in the third quarter of the game against the Toreros. He became the first Valpo player to rush for a pair of touchdowns this season. It also marked the first time in Duncan’s career he ran for two scores in a single game.
Reese Running Routes: Sophomore wide receiver Ollie Reese continued his recent strides in the Oct. 19 game at San Diego, hauling in six catches for 78 yards to achieve career bests in both areas. Reese ranks second in the PFL in all-purpose yards per game at 131.4 and first in total all-purpose yards with 920. He is 20th nationally in all-purpose yards per game and fourth in kick-return yards with a PFL-best 622.
Dual Threat Quarterback: Chris Duncan rushed for 154 yards on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton, becoming the first Valpo player to exceed 150 rushing yards in a game in seven years. The last Valpo player to do so was Jake Hutson on Nov. 3, 2012, when he went for 248 yards in a game at Campbell. Duncan was the first Valpo player to rush for 150 yards in a game at Brown Field since 2008, when Ross Wiemer went for 170 against Davidson. Duncan had the most rushing yards by a Valpo quarterback in a single game since Sept. 1, 2007, when Warren Arnold had 172 against Saint Francis. Duncan had the second-highest single-game rushing total of any PFL player this season to date, behind only Jacksonville’s Calvin Turner (169 on Oct. 5 at Dayton).
Big Gain Alert: Quarterback Chris Duncan ran for a 76-yard touchdown in the Oct. 12 game against Dayton, Valpo’s longest rushing play since Jarrett Morgan had an 86 yarder on Sept. 16, 2017 at Trinity International. The Duncan run was Valpo’s longest offensive play of the season. Morgan’s play in 2017 did not go for a TD, so Duncan’s was Valpo’s longest scoring run since Ozzie Young had a 76 yarder on Nov. 11, 1995 against Kentucky Wesleyan. Duncan provided Valpo’s longest rushing play against a Division-I opponent since Young’s 84 yarder on Oct. 22, 1994 against Evansville. It was the longest rush by any PFL player this season.
Ground Game: As a team, Valpo totaled 299 yards on the ground on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton after entering the game with 72 marking the team’s season high. It was Valpo’s top team rushing performance since the aforementioned Nov. 3, 2012 game at Campbell, when the team totaled 304 yards against the Fighting Camels. The game against the Flyers marked Valpo’s second-best rushing performance since the start of the 2009 season and best in a home game since accumulating 351 yards on Oct. 11, 2008 vs. Davidson. In addition, the 447 yards of total offense against Dayton was a season best.
The Reese Return: Among the highlights of Valpo’s 28-point output on Oct. 12 against Dayton was a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ollie Reese, the first of his career and the first by a Valpo player this season. He turned in the second-longest kickoff return in the PFL this season behind Dayton’s Jake Chisholm, who had a 97 yarder on Sept. 21 vs. Duquesne.
Punt-Free Football: Another noteworthy tidbit on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton is that Valpo did not punt the football in the contest. This was the first time Valpo did not punt in a game in over 18 years.
TFL Time: Valpo accumulated a dozen tackles for loss in the PFL opener against Drake, the team’s most in a single game since Sept. 20, 2014 at William Jewell (12). The last time Valpo had that many TFL in a PFL game was Sept. 25, 2010 vs. Drake (13). There were only 14 prior instances of an FCS Division I team achieving 12 or more TFL in a game this season.
Turner Tackle Tidbits: In the PFL opener against Drake, fifth-year senior Nick Turner became the first Valpo player with 3.5 TFL in a single game since John Guilford on Oct. 17, 2015 vs. Dayton. He equaled the most by a Valpo player since Guilford’s 4.0 on Nov. 8, 2014 vs. Butler. Turner also became just the third PFL player with 3.5 or more TFL in a game this season, joining San Diego’s Kevin Glajchen (4.0 vs. Harvard) and Morehead State’s Vaughn Taylor (3.5 vs. Union). Turner is up to 7.0 TFL for the season, tied with Davidson’s Bryce Perry-Martin for the league lead.
New-Look Receiving Corps: Valpo features a youthful group of wide receivers, many of whom have taken on considerably larger roles since the 2018 campaign wrapped up. Valpo’s top five receivers in terms of both total receptions and receiving yards from last year have since departed. Kyle Cartales (13 catches, 137 receiving yards in 2018) was the leading returning player in that area. Of the team’s 185 receptions last season, 142 (76.76 percent) were by players who did not return for 2019. In addition, 2040 of the team’s 2455 receiving yards (83 percent) from a year ago departed following the season.
Two-Pick Showing: Jamari Booker grabbed a pair of interceptions in the Sept. 28 game against Charleston, becoming the first player in the Pioneer Football League with a multi-interception game this season. At that point in the year, he was one of 26 players in the FCS nation with a multi-interception game in 2019. The last Valpo player to pull down multiple picks in a single game was Austin Petrie on Oct. 28, 2017 vs. Morehead State. Valpo has had five players with multi-interception games in the last five seasons – Josmar Diaz-Martinez (2015), Kellan Hughes (2015), Drew Snouffer (2016), Petrie and Booker. Booker lifted his career interception total to five.
Stopping the Run: Valpo allowed just 69 rushing yards on Sept. 28 against Charleston, the fewest rushing yards the team has surrendered in a game since holding Stetson to 67 on Sept. 30, 2017, which coincidentally was also a Homecoming game.
Under 20: The Valpo defense held an opponent under 20 points in the 19-13 loss to Charleston on Sept. 28. The team has held the opposition under 20 points eight times in the last six seasons and had won the previous six. This was Valpo’s first defeat in a game in which the defense allowed fewer than 20 points since Oct. 8, 2014 vs. Drake (L 17-9). It was the first time since at least 2001 that Valpo lost while allowing fewer than two touchdowns in a game.
Head Coach Landon Fox: After spending the last 11 seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of Dayton, the new man in charge of the Valpo football program is no stranger to the Pioneer Football League. Landon Fox’s teams held opponents to an average of 19 points per game during his time as the defensive coordinator at Dayton. He helped the Flyers finish with 10 winning seasons in his 11 years on staff and guided a defensive backfield that produced one All-American, four Academic All-Americans, two PFL Special Teams Players of the Year and three corners who were invited to NFL Rookie Minicamp. Prior to joining Dayton’s staff, Fox served as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Wayne State University in Detroit from 2005-2007. He also spent time as a defensive graduate assistant at Ball State University (2004), Dayton (2002-2003) and Lakeland College (2001). Fox began his coaching career as an assistant varsity coach at Preble Shawnee High School in Camden, Ohio during the 2000 season. During his playing days, Fox was a team captain and all-conference performer at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio from 1995-1999 and graduated with a degree in physical education and health in May 2000 before earning his master’s degree in education from Lakeland in May 2002.
A Look Back at 2018: After enjoying its first winning season in 15 years in 2017, Valpo finished an injury-riddled campaign with a record of 2-9. The team topped rival Butler 35-17, beating the Bulldogs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2005. In addition, Valpo won on Senior Day for the fourth time in the last five years, sending the senior class out with a 48-30 win over Jacksonville in the home finale. The team produced a first-team all-PFL performer, a second-team all-PFL honoree, seven PFL Honorable Mention athletes, two Academic All-PFL First Team recipients, one Academic All-PFL Second Team achiever and two FCS National Bowl participants during the season.
Player-by-Player Quick Hits – Projected Offensive Starters
- WR-x Ollie Reese, So. – Saw action in all 11 games and made four receptions as a true freshman in 2018… Made his first career TD catch in the 2019 season opener at Eastern Kentucky, a 61-yarder from Chris Duncan. After totaling four receptions for 35 yards all of last season, he had three grabs for 71 yards in the first game of his sophomore campaign… Matched his own 61-yard grab from the season opener with a 61-yard reception from Joe Mullen on Sept. 21 at Truman State, equaling the longest pass play by Valpo through the first three games of the season… Had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton… Father Steve is a financial wholesaler and mother Margie works at an antique shop in the city of Franklin… Has one sister, Bailey, who is a member of the University of Tennessee Knoxville Class of 2019… Father and grandfather both played college football… Father played football and baseball at Bridgewater College in Virginia and graduated in 1985… Set career highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (78) on Oct. 19 at San Diego.
- LT Bryce Biggs, R-Jr. – Made his first career start on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton.
- LG Sam Vas, Jr. – Appeared in all 11 games on Valpo’s offensive line last season… Majoring in mechanical engineering… Loves Star Wars and is good at solving Rubik’s Cubes.
- LG Brendan O’Doherty, R-Fr. – Majoring in mechanical engineering… In high school was also a wrestler in the heavyweight division… In prep football, earned second-team all-Ohio Division 3 honors.
- C Jack Jarnigan, R-Sr. – Has missed just one game since the start of the 2016 season…. Has lived in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Colorado, California and Illinois… Went on an exchange trip in fifth grade to Mexico and was there for two months… Team captain… Mother Liz is the Director of Athletics at Southern Illinois University and father Jeff is an assistant general manager and coach for the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League… Sister Mary is a teacher in Colorado Springs and sister Emily is a volleyball player at St. Olaf College.
- RG Aaron Byrd, R-Fr. – Made his collegiate debut on Nov. 10 of last season, his only collegiate game entering 2019… Was an all-district trumpet player in high school.
- RT Jimmy Zajac, R-Jr. – Appeared in three games over his first three seasons on campus, but has earned his way to the top spot on the depth chart as a fourth-year player in 2019.
- TE Alex Kluck, R-So. – Played in seven games and made one catch for five yards in 2018… Went to a high school that made the playoffs in Wisconsin in 19 of 20 seasons at the time he graduated (Cedarburg)… Mother played a year of soccer at Green Bay in 1989 before suffering a career-ending injury… Father played rugby at MSOE from 1989-1994… Spent the 2018 summer working for his uncle’s ocean kayaking and clothing company in San Diego and giving kayaking tours… That uncle played college soccer at Vermont from 2001-2003… Made his first career TD catch on Sept. 28 vs. Charleston, hauling in a 3-yard toss from Jimmy Seewald.
- WR-z Deuce Larose, Jr. – Played in 18 career games over his first two seasons in 2017 and 2018… Played ice hockey in middle school and didn’t start playing tackle football until eighth grade… Father Dan played safety at Florida State… Majoring in exercise science/pre-med… Had four catches for 60 yards in his season debut on Sept. 14 at Central Connecticut… Made his first TD catch of the season on a 15-yard pass from Chris Duncan on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton… Had an eight-yard TD catch on Nov. 2 at Davidson, becoming the first Valpo player with multiple touchdown receptions this season.
- WR-slot JD Koehler, R-Sr. – Recovered a pair of Valpo on-side kicks in 2018 after previously no Valpo player had made an on-side kick recovery in over a decade… There were only five on-side kick recoveries in the entire PFL in 2018 and two of them were his…. Played in all 22 games over the 2017 and 2018 seasons including starting every game in 2018… Had four catches for 43 yards on Sept. 14 vs. Central Connecticut.
- QB Chris Duncan, R-Jr. – Started the first three games of the season for Valpo including the season opener at Eastern Kentucky and threw his 17th career touchdown pass, a 61 yarder to Ollie Reese… Had a 76-yard TD run in the game against Dayton, Valpo’s longest since 1995… Saw action in 10 games at quarterback and made seven starts in 2018, when he went 124-of-244 through the air while racking up 1,781 passing yards and 14 touchdowns… Ranked seventh in the PFL with 178.1 passing yards per game, sixth in pass efficiency at 123.7 and seventh in total offense at 191.3… Was a child actor and made it in a Pussycat Dolls music video, “Wait a Minute.”… Had his fourth career rushing touchdown on Sept. 14 vs. Central Connecticut. Also in the game against the Blue Devils, went 24-of-47 through the air, the most completions by a Valpo quarterback since 2017 and the most pass attempts by a Valpo player in a single game since 2015… Rushed for 154 yards and passed for 148 on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton, putting together Valpo’s top rushing performance in seven years and the team’s highest rushing total by a QB since 2007… Became the first Valpo player this season with two touchdown runs in a single game on Oct. 19 at San Diego, doing so for the first time in his career… His late grandfather Mike Shatusky also wore #14 and was the quarterback at Michigan in the late 1950s… Rushed for a touchdown and threw for one on Nov. 2 vs. Davidson. The passing TD was the 19th of his career, while the rush was his ninth and sixth of the season.
- RB Elias Early, R-Sr. – Has started each of the last four weeks… Had a career-high 112 rushing yards on Oct. 26 vs. Stetson.
Player-by-Player Quick Hits – Projected Defensive Starters
- DE Trejuan Purty, Jr. – Has transferred to Valpo after being on the team at East Tennessee State each of the last two seasons… Played in one game last year, appearing in a contest against Gardner Webb… Recovered a blocked punt on Sept. 14 vs. Central Connecticut….Had a fumble recovery on Oct. 26 vs. Stetson.
- DE Nathan Orlandini, Jr. – Majoring in mechanical engineering… Appeared in nine games in 2018… Has earned his way to the top spot on the depth chart this season.
- DT Jordan Goebel, R-Jr. – Played in 10 games and made three starts in 2018 after playing in all 11 games and making one start in 2017.
- DT Drew Gedrys, Jr. – Played in all 22 games over his first two seasons on campus, 2017 and 2018.
- LB (Will) Jaxon Peifer, So. – Started the first two games of the season, but did not play on Sept. 21 at Truman State… Had seven tackles over eight games during his freshman season in 2018… Exceeded his season total from last year with 10 in the season opener at Eastern Kentucky, leading the team in that category while making his first career start… Was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Week while also being named the National Guard Player of the Game by Valpo Athletics in Week 1… Majoring in nursing.
- MLB Nick Turner, R-Sr. – Was limited to four games due to an injury in 2018, totaling 17 tackles (six solos, 1 TFL) after earning 2017 All-PFL Second Team status and reaching double figures in tackles on five occasions including the last three games of the season… Team captain… Finished a tackle shy of a career high with 12 to lead the team on Sept. 28 vs. Charleston. Also forced a fumble and recovered that same fumble in the game against the Golden Eagles… Led the team for a second straight week with a 10-tackle output on Oct. 5 at Drake. Also had 3.5 TFL in that game, becoming the fifth player in the PFL in 2019 with 3.5 or more TFL in a single game. He also had the most tackles for loss by any Valpo player in a game since 2015…Had a career-high 14 tackles on Nov. 2 at Davidson.
- LB Trey Psota, R-Fr. – Appeared in four games as a true freshman in 2018, keeping his four seasons of eligibility… Finished with 11 tackles in the Oct. 26 win over Stetson while also blocking a Stetson field goal attempt.
- CB Henry Hebda, Jr. – Had a strong performance on Sept. 21 at Truman State, highlighted by his first career interception. Turned in a career-high six tackles (three solos) against the Bulldogs, second on the team in that contest… Played in nine games and totaled 12 tackles (seven solos) in 2018… Twin brother David is also a member of the Valpo football team… Majoring in nursing.
- S Jamari Booker, Sr. – Received 2018 All-PFL Honorable Mention recognition and was a member of the 2019 Preseason All-PFL squad… Tied for fourth in the PFL with 8.2 tackles per game in 2018, accruing 91 total tackles… Racked up 20 tackles on Sept. 29, 2018 vs. Davidson, the only player in the PFL with a 20-tackle game all season and one of just six players in the entire FCS nation to do so. Became the first Valpo player since at least 2002 with 20+ tackles in a single game… Team captain… Led the team in tackles on Sept. 14 with eight while also forcing a fumble, blocking a punt and returning that blocked punt 10 yards for a touchdown… Made two interceptions on Sept. 28 vs. Charleston, becoming the first player in the PFL and the 26th in the nation with a multiple interception game this season… Had his second two-interception game of the season on Oct. 26 vs. Stetson, racking up a team-high 13 tackles in the victory. Was named PFL Defensive Player of the Week, College Sports Madness FCS National Defensive Player of the Week and STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week following that showing… Had a career-high 21 tackles while forcing two fumbles on Nov. 2 at Davidson.
- S Michael Scarsella, So. – Had 49 tackles, one interception and one TFL during his freshman season in 2018… Made his first career interception on Oct. 13, 2018 vs. Butler and returned it 25 yards with 5:26 left in the fourth quarter, providing the final dagger as Valpo won the Hoosier Helmet rivalry game 35-17… Made his second career pick in Week 1 this season against Eastern Kentucky… Accounted for Valpo’s lone sack of the day on Sept. 21 at Truman State… Native of Valparaiso and graduate of Valparaiso High School… Accrued six tackles and recovered a fumble on Sept. 14 vs. Central Connecticut… Provided six tackles including 3.0 TFL on Oct. 5 at Drake.
- CB Kohlton Sherman, So. – Racked up eight tackles in Week 1 at Eastern Kentucky, second on the team… First names starting with the letter K is a family tradition for males… Enjoys golfing… Had a career-high 10 tackles on Nov. 2 at Davidson.
Specialist Quick Hits – Projected Starters
- K Dimitrios Latsonas, Sr. – Was a 2018 Academic All-PFL Second Team choice after receiving 2017 All-PFL honorable mention… Went 8-of-12 on field-goal tries in 2018, converting 36 of his 37 PAT attempts, shattering his own record for made extra points in a single season after previously setting the school record with 35 in 2017… Averaged 55.9 yards per kick on kickoffs and booted 13 touchbacks… Made a 50-yard field goal in the team’s season finale at Stetson, outdoing his previous personal best of 44 and converting the longest field goal in the PFL in 2018. It was the longest field goal by a Valpo kicker since 2003… Enters this week with 78 career PATs, only five away from tying and six from breaking the career program record… Went 2-for-2 on field goals on Sept. 28 vs. Charleston, his first two makes of the season… Extended his streak of made field goals to four straight by converting from 46 and 41 on Oct. 5 at Drake… Made four PATs on Oct. 12 vs. Dayton, tying the program record for made PATs in a career by boosting his four-year total to 83… Hit two extra points on Oct. 19 at San Diego, becoming the program record holder in career made PATs… Became the first Valpo kicker since 2003 to make four field goals in a game on Oct. 26 vs. Stetson, accounting for 13 of the team’s points in a 19-10 victory. He was named the PFL Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in his career after also booted three touchbacks among his six kickoffs for 62 yards per kick in the win over the Hatters.
- P Benjamin Niesner, Jr. – Joins the team as a transfer after spending the last two seasons at Portland State, where he earned the starting role at punter… Averaged 38.5 yards per punt while booting rugby-style kicks… Didn’t begin teaching himself how to punt until after his senior year of high school… Before his first year at Portland State in 2017, hadn’t played football in his life except a brief stint of youth football… Booted a 56-yard punt in his home debut on Sept. 14 vs. Central Connecticut, the longest Valpo punt since the second game of the 2016 season, when Alex Ng struck a 59 yarder at Sacred Heart… Had 10 punts for 404 yards on Sept. 21 at Truman State, becoming the 17th punter in the FCS nation with a 10-punt game this season and the first Valpo player to hit double figures in in single-game punts since 2013… Ran for 10 yards and a first down on a fake punt play on Oct. 5 at Drake. Booted a pair of punts for 50+ yards in that game against the Bulldogs… Had two punts of greater than 50 yards on Oct. 19 at San Diego.
Preseason Accolades: Jamari Booker was selected to the Preseason All-PFL team, while five Valpo players were named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-PFL Team, led by first teamer Austin Petrie. Jack Jarnigan, James Reed and Jamari Booker were second-team choices, while Dimitrios Latsonas was named to the third team.
Oh Captain, My Captain: Valparaiso enters the 2019 season with four captains: quarterback Jimmy Seewald, offensive lineman Jack Jarnigan, linebacker Nick Turner and defensive back Jamari Booker. Seewald and Turner are in their second season as team captains, while Jarnigan and Booker occupy the role for the first time.