The Valparaiso University football team had the better of the play in the first half, but the two teams went into the locker room scoreless in a game that saw rival Butler pull out a 17-7 victory with all of the scoring coming after halftime. The Beacons moved the ball and created opportunities throughout the day, but did not score on their three red-zone opportunities.
How It Happened
- Valpo appeared to take the lead before the game’s first offensive snap when Jashon Butler (Lynwood, Wash. / Meadowdale [Arizona]) returned the opening kickoff into the end zone, but the touchdown was called back on a holding penalty.
- Valpo moved the ball on an opening drive that saw redshirt freshman quarterback Rowan Keefe (Park Ridge, Ill. / Maine South) complete a 45-yard pass to Solomon Davis (Brighton, Tenn. / Brighton) and find Butler for 19 yards. Valpo narrowly missed a 39-yard field goal attempt into the wind and the game remained scoreless with 11:04 left in the half.
- The two teams exchanged three-and-outs, then the Valpo defense came up with the game’s first takeaway to extinguish a Butler red-zone chance. Jimmy Pouba (Chicago, Ill. / Lyons [College of the Sequoias]) forced and recovered the fumble at the Valpo 20 with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
- Valpo marched down field on a drive that saw Davis haul in a 23-yard reception, eventually electing to attempt a 21-yard field goal that was blocked.
- Butler embarked on an 18-play, 62-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock, but the Bulldogs missed a 51-yard field goal as windy conditions continued to play a factor.
- Keefe completed a 14-yard pass to Brandon Jimenez (Suffern, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep [Albany]), then Tytus Ragle (New Castle, Ind. / New Castle) hauled in a 26 yarder. That led to a 41-yard field goal try in the closing seconds of the half that became Valpo’s third miss, sending the game to the break scoreless.
- The Valpo defense got a quick three-out to start the second half, then a pair of Butler penalties aided the Beacons as they moved the ball inside the Butler 20 on their first drive of the second half. Valpo went for it on fourth down and did not convert.
- Two plays later, Jyran Mitchell took off for a 67-yard touchdown run to account for the first points of the game with 11:03 left in the third.
- The points suddenly came in quick succession as Valpo’s first offensive snap following Butler’s first score saw Solomon Davis (Brighton, Tenn. / Brighton) run for a 70-yard score to tie the game with 10:01 left in the third.
- Butler’s next drive featured five third-down conversions and one fourth-down success. An 18-play, 75-yard odyssey that took 10:01 resulted in a 3-yard TD run by quarterback Bret Bushka on the final play of the third quarter, giving the hosts a 14-7 lead.
- The Butler defense applied pressure on the quarterback and forced a pass that was intercepted by a defensive lineman to create Valpo’s first giveaway. Then the Bulldogs took another 8:42 off the clock with a 15-play, 29-yard drive that featured another fourth-down conversion and two more instances of moving the sticks on third down. This resulted in a 32-yard field goal to make it 17-7 and account for the game’s final score.
Inside the Game
- Davis’ 70-yard run represented Valpo’s longest offensive play of the season. Davis does have a 78-yard catch in his career, but this was far and away his longest career rushing play, as he entered the game with 12 total collegiate rushing yards.
- This was Davis’ first career rushing touchdown and his ninth career total score (fifth this season). He also had two catches for a team-high 68 yards.
- Pouba notched his first forced fumble and fumble recovery with the Brown & Gold.
- Valpo punted only once and had just one turnover in a game in which the team was limited to seven points.
- Butler converted eight third downs and went 4-of-4 on fourth down.
- Valpo accumulated 289 yards of total offense, edged by Butler’s 335 in that category. The Beacons out-passed the Bulldogs 172-89.
- Keefe went 11-of-19 passing for 172 yards in his first collegiate start.
- Running back Ryan Mann (Vernon Hills, Ill. / Vernon Hills [Northern Illinois]) accrued 47 yards on 10 carries.
- A pair of Beacons notched double-figures in the tackle department with Wade Abrams (Fox River Grove, Ill. / Cary-Grove) posted a team-high 13 including 10 solos and Colin Graves (Seattle, Wash. / Bishop Blanchet) recorded 10 including seven solos. Sam Hafner (Green Bay, Wis. / De Pere) was a big factor as well, with seven tackles including a sack.
- Abrams’ 13-tackle output was the highest total by a Valpo player in a game this season.
Valpo (1-7, 0-5 PFL) will host Dayton next week on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Brown Field for the first of back-to-back home games. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+. For ticket information, visit valpoathletics.com/tickets.