October 21, 20231st2nd3rd4thFinal
1st Quarter
DAVTD08:35Adams 2 Yd Run (Zouagui kick)
2nd Quarter
DAVTD14:56Reina 12 Yd Pass From Cleland (Zouagui kick)
DAVTD06:42Sheron 2 Yd Run (Zouagui kick)
3rd Quarter
DAVTD09:14Sheron 38 Yd Run (Zouagui kick)
VALPOTD08:12JIMENEZ 9 Yd Pass From KEEFE (HAWK kick)
DAVTD00:43Cox 1 Yd Run (Zouagui kick)
4th Quarter
VALPOTD14:56THOMAS 5 Yd Pass From KEEFE (HAWK kick)
VALPOTD12:45GUNDY 60 Yd Pass From KEEFE (HAWK kick)
DAVTD01:18Sheron 8 Yd Run (Zouagui kick)
Stats at a GlanceVALPODAV
1st Downs1125
3rd Down Conversions2-87-15
4th Down Conversions0-24-5
Passing (Comp-Att)225 (13-24) 148 (11-15)
Rushing (Att)42 (17) 265 (58)
Total Yards267413
Fumbles Lost11
Keefe Shines in Second Half, Davidson Holds on for Victory
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Keefe Shines in Second Half, Davidson Holds on for Victory
Rowan Keefe completed three touchdown passes in the second half on Saturday. (Brian Chilton)

The Valparaiso University football team turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Rowan Keefe (Park Ridge, Ill. / Maine South) after halftime, and he appeared ready for the moment in his collegiate debut. He completed nine of his 12 pass attempts for 187 yards and three touchdowns in a game that saw host Davidson sustain a 21-0 halftime lead in a 42-21 victory at Smith Field in Davidson, N.C.

How It Happened

  • On the first drive of the game, Davidson twice moved the chains on fourth down including a 41-yard pass on fourth-and-3 from the 43 that set up a two-yard touchdown plunge to make it 7-0 after a 12-play, 82-yard march that spanned 6:20.
  • Valpo went three-and-out, but the defense came up with a takeaway as Onye Nwosisi (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cardinal Ridge [Muskingum]) recovered a fumble at the Davidson 42 with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
  • The Beacons were stopped on four straight plays and turned the ball over on downs.
  • The Wildcats used a nine-play, 64-yard drive that finished with a 12-yard TD reception by Brody Reina on a pass from Coulter Cleland to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
  • Valpo moved the ball on its next drive with Brian Thomas (Apopka, Fla. / Orlando Christian Prep) putting together a pair of runs for eight yards or more and Jeffrey Jackson (San Diego, Calif. / Bishop’s [San Diego]) completing a 13-yard pass to Solomon Davis (Brighton, Tenn. / Brighton), but the series still resulted in a punt.
  • Another long drive for Davidson (nine plays, 80 yards) finished with a 2-yard TD run by Mason Sheron to make it 21-0. That score stood going into the halftime break.
  • Davidson once again found paydirt on its first drive of the second half to boost the lead to 28-0, but a 68-yard kickoff return by Jashon Butler (Lynwood, Wash. / Meadowdale [Arizona]) followed and helped spark the Beacons.
  • Keefe connected on an 18-yard pass to Max Carter (Camarillo, Calif.) before finding Brandon Jimenez (Suffern, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep [Albany]) for a nine-yard touchdown to get Valpo on the board at 28-7 with 8:12 left in the third.
  • Davidson scored again on its next drive, but Valpo had another quick response. Keefe started the ensuing Valpo drive with a 68-yard pass to Jimenez, setting up a five-yard touchdown catch by Thomas on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 35-14.
  • A sack by Kobey Fitzgerald (Eastvale, Calif. / Servite [UCLA]) punctuated a three-and-out by the Valpo defense, then the Valpo offense once again started a drive with a big play. This time it was a 60-yard TD pass to Chris Gundy (Smithfield, VA. / Smithfield) to make it 35-21 with 12:45 to play.
  • Valpo had life after the defense got a big stop on fourth-and-2 from the Valpo 9, forcing Davidson’s first turnover on downs of the day with 7:59 left in a two-score game. However, Valpo turned it over on downs on the ensuing drive and Davidson added a late touchdown to account for the game’s final margin.

Inside the Game

  • Jimenez had two catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Gundy had two grabs for 73 yards and a score. Davis made a team-high four catches.
  • Jimenez’s TD catch was his second of the season, while Gundy’s represented the first of his collegiate career. Thomas also recorded his first collegiate score. 
  • Butler had two kickoff returns for 90 yards including a long of 68, his third of 60+ yards this season.
  • The Valpo defense was led by Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davidson) and Mohamed Kamara (Kalamazoo, Mich. / Kalamazoo Central [Hope]), who accrued 10 tackles apiece. This marked the first time this season a Valpo player racked up 10 or more tackles.
  • Davidson improved to 16-1 in its last 17 home games and 4-0 in PFL play this season. The Wildcats are among the national leaders in most offensive categories. They have made three straight FCS Playoff appearances.

Up Next

Valpo (1-6, 0-4 PFL) will play a rivalry game as the Battle for the Hoosier Helmet will transpire next Saturday at Butler. The game will kick off at noon CT in Indianapolis.