The Valparaiso University football team overcame a rocky end to the first half with a second-half comeback effort for the third consecutive week, but Marist pulled out a 35-24 victory on Saturday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Valpo incurred another close defeat, coming up just shy against a team that is tied for second in the Pioneer Football League standings and has only one league loss.
How It Happened
- After forcing a Marist punt to start the game, Valpo moved the ball well on an opening drive that saw quarterback Chris Duncan complete passes to three different receivers. Valpo moved it into the red zone before kicker Dimitrios Latsonas got the guests on the board first with a 30-yard field goal with 8:05 left in the first quarter.
- A quick three-and-out by Marist allowed Valpo to threaten again on a run-heavy drive, but a missed field goal kept it 3-0.
- Marist grabbed its first lead when quarterback Jacob Hallenbeck found Juston Christian for a 25-yard touchdown to make it 7-3 with 14:27 left in the second quarter.
- Drew Snouffer made his first big play of the day with a tackle for a 5-yard loss on 3rd-and-4 for Marist from the Valpo 29, then a pass fell incomplete to cause a turnover on downs.
- Once Valpo took over on downs, it took only one play to find the end zone. Duncan delivered a perfect strike to Griffin Norberg, who caught it in stride on the far sideline and broke away for a 66-yard score. Valpo went up 10-7 with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
- Marist quickly regained the lead on a 41-yard reception by Anthony Olivencia to go up 14-10 with 5:35 remaining in the first half.
- The Red Foxes (5-4, 5-1) scored 14 points in the final 28 seconds of the first half as a Juston Christian TD catch was followed by a 27-yard fumble recovery for a TD on a Marist kickoff. The hosts went into the halftime break up 28-10.
- With Valpo in need of a big play, Snouffer provided just that. His second defensive score in the last three weeks came on Marist’s first drive of the third quarter. The senior captain recovered a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to trim the Marist lead to 28-17 with 12:38 left in the third quarter.
- The Valpo defense played a strong third quarter, keeping the Red Foxes off the scoreboard. There were three Marist turnovers in the period, as a Jamari Booker interception and Jesse Studyvin fumble recovery led to two more stops following the Snouffer play.
- The first offensive score of the second half by either team came when Marist took advantage of a short field following a Valpo turnover. Hallenbeck completed an 8-yard TD pass to Sean Gaffney to put Marist up 35-17 with 5:49 remaining in the fourth.
- The Valpo offense put together its best series of the day late in the fourth as Duncan completed the first four passes of a drive that was capped by a 2-yard TD pass to Deuce Larose. That shrunk the lead to 11, but took 5:02, leaving just 42 seconds on the clock.
- For the second time in three weeks, JD Koehler recovered an onside kick by Latsonas with 42 seconds left in the game, giving Valpo a pulse. However, a Marist interception clinched the win for the Red Foxes.
Inside the Game
- Snouffer’s fumble recovery was his second of the season, while the touchdown was the second of his career and also his second in the last three weeks. The Valpo senior played another strong game, finishing with 11 tackles. The continuation of Snouffer’s stellar season allowed him to eclipse the 100-tackle milestone for the third straight year with still two games to go.
- Austin Petrie was involved in another sack, teaming up with Mike Wheeler for Valpo’s fifth sack in the last two weeks. Petrie has been in on four of them. Petrie shared the team lead with 11 tackles on Saturday.
- Norberg has caught seven of Valpo’s 15 touchdown passes this season. He is up to 16 career TDs (14 receiving).
- Larose became the seventh Valpo player with a TD catch this year. It was the second touchdown grab of the sophomore’s career and it came nearly exactly one year from the first – a 22-yard score on Nov. 4, 2017 at Jacksonville.
- Studyvin was credited with both a fumble recovery and a forced fumble, career firsts in both areas.
- The Valpo defense racked up eight tackles for loss in the game, a season high.
- Duncan went 12-of-30 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Norberg was Valpo’s leader in receiving yards with 77 on two grabs while Parker Fox led the team in receptions with three for 40 yards. Valpo was limited to 86 rushing yards on 32 carries.
- Valpo was 0-for-11 on on-side kick tries since the start of the 2008 season prior to the game two weeks ago at Morehead State. Now, Valpo has two on-side kick recoveries in the last three weeks, both by Koehler.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Cecchini
“We had a few breakdowns on defense that short-circuited what was otherwise a tremendous effort on their part. The few breakdowns that we had led directly to scores. On the offense side of the ball, we struggled to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball. That put too much pressure on Chris, and we can’t ask him to throw on every down at this point in his career.”
“There was a lot of good football today, there really was. We’re a play or two away in each of these games. Our kids are competing and making plays despite all the injuries and obstacles. We’re better than our record would indicate. We have two weeks left and we want to send our seniors off in a good way. We’re just trying to find ways to get better and step up to answer the call.”
Valpo (1-8, 1-5 PFL) will return home next week to host Jacksonville on Senior Day, the 2018 home finale. The game can be viewed on ESPN+, heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso or followed via live stats.