A heroic blocked PAT by Kurt Kessen (Shelby Township, Mich. / Utica) sent Saturday’s Valparaiso University football game to overtime, but Marist scored a game-winning touchdown in the first extra period to edge the hosts 36-30 on homecoming Saturday at Brown Field. Solomon Davis (Brighton, Tenn. / Brighton) had 10 catches for 175 yards to lead the Beacons in the Pioneer Football League opener and first home date of 2023.
How It Happened
- A muffed Valpo punt set up Marist’s first points of the game on a 32-yard field goal by Chase Gardi to make it 3-0 with 9:41 left in the first.
- Valpo responded to grab the lead with a 12-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in Davis hauling in a 10-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Michael Appel Jr. (Springboro, Ohio / Springboro).
- An errant snap on a punt was recovered by Max Franco (La Habra, Calif. / La Habra) to set up Valpo with first and goal on the Marist 1-yard line.
- Appel plunged across the goal line for the 1-yard TD to build the Valpo advantage to 14-3 with 18 seconds left in the opening quarter.
- Marist used an 18-play, 90-yard drive to cut the lead to four on a 9-yard TD pass with 3:17 left in the first half.
- Valpo went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and a 25-yard punt return allowed the Red Foxes to start their drive near midfield. A 40-yard pass completion set up a 20-yard TD run for Brock Bagozzi, allowing Marist to leap ahead at 17-14 with 30 seconds left in the half.
- Davis had a big catch of 20 yards on a drive that finished with Appel finding tight end Evan Jernegan (Altadena, Calif. / St. Francis) for a 10-yard score early in the second half, putting the hosts back in the driver’s seat at 21-17.
- The Valpo defense got another stop including a 15-yard sack by Franco on third down. That set up a Valpo drive that resulted in a 19-yard field goal sent through the uprights by Patrick Oliva (South Bend, Ind. / Saint Joseph) to extend the lead to seven at 24-17.
- Early in the fourth quarter, Valpo went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Marist 33, but the play was dropped in the backfield for a turnover on downs.
- Following that fourth-down stop, Marist embarked on a 14-play, 66-yard TD drive to tie the game at 24.
- On the first snap of the ensuing Valpo drive, Davis hauled in a 50-yard score from Appel to put the Beacons back in front. An issue with the snap on the PAT led to a failed rushing attempt by the holder, so the lead was six at 30-24.
- Marist embarked on a long drive filled with key third and fourth down conversions including a fouth-and-2 at the Valpo 40 with 1:54 remaining. The Red Foxes eventually tied the game as Bagozzi found Matt Stianche from 12 yards out to make it 30-30 with 14 seconds left. Kessen blocked the potential go-ahead PAT to keep the game tied and send the contest to overtime.
- Valpo got the ball first in OT and a 33-yard field goal try was no good off the right upright. On Marist’s first offensive play of OT, Amin Woods ran for a 25-yard game-winning touchdown.
Inside the Game
- Davis became the first Valpo player with 10 receptions in a game since Tanner Kuramata on Nov. 22, 2014 vs. Davidson.
- Davis set a career high in receiving yards with 175, eclipsing his previous personal best of 118, which came in last season’s homecoming game against San Diego.
- Davis had the most receiving yards by a Valpo player since Kuramata had 200 on Nov. 16, 2013 vs. Dayton.
- Entering Saturday, only two players in the FCS nation had games with 175 or more receiving yards this season, Dylan Laube of New Hampshire and Brandon Porter of UIW.
- Appel threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another while completing 16-of-25 passes for 234 yards. The rushing TD was the third of his career while he has passed for 15 career touchdowns.
- Valpo was led in rushing by Jashon Butler (Lynwood, Wash. / Meadowdale [Arizona]) with nine carries for 31 yards.
- The defense was paced by Will Abrams (Fox River Grove, Ill. / Cary-Grove), Colin Graves (Seattle, Wash. / Bishop Blanchet) and Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davison) with seven tackles apiece.
- Valpo’s most recent PAT block prior to Saturday was also Kessen on Oct. 15 of last season vs. Butler.
- The fumble recovery was the second of Franco’s career.
- This marked the seventh straight Valpo homecoming game decided by fewer than seven points. Valpo has not had a homecoming game decided by more than six points since 2015.
- This marked the 20th game decided by seven points or fewer in Landon Fox’s 44 games as Valpo head coach.
- This was Valpo’s first overtime game since Oct. 2, 2021, also a homecoming loss to Marist at Brown Field.
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (0-3, 0-1 PFL) will host Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. at Brown Field. For ticket information, visit valpoathletics.com/tickets. The game will air on ESPN+ with links to live video, audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.