For the second consecutive week, the Valparaiso University football team came up six points shy on Saturday afternoon at Brown Field. Visiting Morehead State sprinted ahead 14-0 before a strong third quarter helped Valpo draw even, but the Eagles left Porter County with a 27-21 triumph.
How It Happened
- Morehead State (5-5, 3-3 PFL) started the day with a gutsy call by implementing a fake punt in their own territory on the first possession of the game. A completed pass by the punter went for four yards on fourth-and-5, so Valpo took over on downs.
- The Brown & Gold couldn’t cash in on the favorable field position after taking over at the Morehead 41, as the Eagles forced a three-and-out.
- The Eagles struck first with 4:45 to go in the first quarter as Mark Pappas tossed a 27-yard score to Landon Hurst to cap a 12-play, 87-yard drive.
- Morehead State’s next possession resulted in a quick strike as Pappas found Jordan Huffman for an 83-yard TD pass. That doubled the lead to 14-0 with 45 seconds to go in the opening quarter.
- Neither team cracked the scoreboard in the second quarter, and the 14-0 Morehead State lead stood into the locker room.
- Valpo’s offense had its best drive of the day to open the second half, going 60 yards on eight plays culminating with a six-yard TD pass from quarterback Chris Duncan (Woodland Hills, Calif. / Woodland Hills-Taft) to tight end Brett Bittner (Chicago, Ill. / St. Laurence) with 10:43 left in the third. The drive also featured a 25-yard pass to Oscar Lopez (Chelsea, Mass. / Revere [Vermillion CC]) and was set up by Lopez’s 32-yard kickoff return.
- The Valpo momentum continued on Morehead State’s first offensive snap of the second half, as Nick Turner (Gurnee, Ill. / Warren Township) forced a fumble after a completed pass and Jamari Booker (Kentwood, Mich. / East Kentwood) recovered to give the hosts possession right back with a chance to tie the game.
- The positives kept coming for Valpo as a seven-play, 54-yard drive ended with Ollie Reese (Franklin, Tenn. / Battle Ground) reaching out to make an impressive catch in the back corner of the end zone for a TD from Duncan. The extra point tied the game at 14 with 6:54 left in the third.
- Valpo briefly appeared to take the lead on a pick six by Turner, but it was negated on a pass interference penalty. The defense finished the stop, however, and Valpo took over after a Morehead State punt.
- Valpo attempted a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the third quarter. The lengthy attempt curled wide right.
- The Valpo defense continued its stellar second half when the Morehead State quarterback fumbled and Cam Germain (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Dwyer) recovered at the Morehead State 13-yard line, setting up a golden chance to take the lead for the first time in the game.
- The Eagles’ defense came through again, first forcing three straight stops, then a 23-yard field goal hit the right upright.
- On the ensuing possession, a sack by Trejuan Purty (Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville [East Tennessee State]) set up third-and-long for Morehead State deep in their own territory. But on third-and-19 from the Morehead State 26, Ian Holder hauled in a pass from Pappas that he broke for 74 yards to put the Eagles back ahead. The extra point was blocked, so the Morehead State lead was 20-14 with 10:51 left in the game.
- Valpo had first-and-goal from the five, but couldn’t punch it in. The drive resulted in a missed field goal from 36 yards out with 8:12 to play.
- The Eagles went for it on a key fourth-and-2 from the Valpo 37 and Issiah Aguero carried one 37 yards for a score to boost the lead to 27-14 with 1:40 left in the fourth.
- Valpo had one final gasp, pulling within six on a two-yard TD toss to Deuce Larose (Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / Cardinal Gibbons) with 20 seconds remaining. The ensuing on-side kick was recovered by the Eagles to secure the victory.
Inside the Game
- After entering the week with seven receptions for the season, Lopez had six grabs in the first half.
- Bittner’s TD catch was the first of his career. Duncan’s first TD pass of the day was the 20th of his career.
- Reese hauled in his second touchdown catch both this season and in his career.
- Germain’s fumble recovery was the first of his career.
- Jaxon Peifer (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) topped the team with 10 tackles.
- The Larose TD grab was his third of the season and the fifth of his career.
- Duncan passed for 304 yards and three scores, while Lopez was the top target with nine catches for 78 yards. Larose’s 112 receiving yards led the team.
It’s Hoosier Helmet Week as Valpo (1-9, 1-5 PFL) will visit rival Butler on Saturday for an 11 a.m. CT kickoff at the Sellick Bowl. The game will be broadcast on YouTube Live courtesy of Butler Athletics with the hometown call available on 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.