The Valparaiso University football program recognized 24 seniors prior to Saturday’s season finale, a 24-0 setback to visiting Drake at Brown Field. The game was played in less than ideal conditions as frigid temperatures and sporadic snowfall created a challenging environment. Valpo finished the season with a .500 record in Pioneer Football League play, the third straight season that the team has finished .500 or better in league action.
How It Happened
- The first scoring of the game came on a Drake 80-yard touchdown pass with 4:39 left in the first quarter.
- The Bulldogs took over on an interception and turned that into points, converting a 21-yard field goal with 14:16 left in the second quarter.
- Drake took over at the Valpo 33 with 5:11 left in the second quarter and needed just one play to break off a 33-yard TD run to make it 17-0.
- The two teams exchanged punts early in the second half, then Valpo’s 34-yard field goal try was blocked with 1:27 left in the third.
- Drake capitalized on a turnover on a muffed punt return with a six-play, 39-yard TD drive that culminated with an 18-yard scoring pass to make it 24-0 with 10:59 to play. That stood as the game’s final score.
Inside the Game
- Running back Aaron Dawson (Westbury, N.Y. / W.T. Clarke [Central Connecticut]) had 33 yards on 19 attempts in the season finale, finishing second on the program’s single-season rushing list. He finished the season with 1,187 yards, behind only Jeff Horton’s 2005 program record of 1,358. Dawson also finished tied for third in single-season program history with 10 rushing touchdowns.
- Dawson had a team-high six catches for 36 yards, while Matt Ross (Naperville, Ill. / Montini Catholic [Eastern Illinois]) paced the squad in receiving yards with 66 on five grabs.
- Although Saturday’s game did not go as hoped, Valpo had numerous team feats this season, including a program record for Pioneer Football League road wins, the team’s highest league road win total since 1962, four PFL wins for the third straight year and just the fourth time ever and a .500 or better record in PFL play for the third straight season for the first time since 1998-2000.
- Redshirt freshman Jake Birmingham (River Forest, Ill. / Oak Park and River Forest) posted 11 tackles including eight solos, his third straight double-figure tackle output. Sam Hafner (Green Bay, Wis. / De Pere) added seven stops.
- Quarterback Michael Appel Jr. (Springboro, Ohio / Springboro) went 18-of-39 for 172 yards.
- The Beacons finished the season with a team completion percentage of 59.9. That ranks third in single-season program history behind 2012 (62.1) and 2013 (61.6).
- Punter Evan Matthes (Reston, Va. / South Lakes [West Virginia]) averaged 40.5 yards per punt on six attempts, pinning three inside the 20 including one that was downed at the 1-yard line. His longest kick of the day traveled 46 yards.
- The 26-degree game time temperature was the coldest in a Valpo game in over 15 years. Previously, the coldest during that stretch was 28 degrees on Nov. 22, 2008. Coincidentally, that 2008 game was also a shutout loss to Drake, that one by a 32-0 score.
Click here for postgame press conference.