The Valparaiso University football team made every effort to complete a late rally for the second consecutive week, but this time the fourth-quarter magic came up narrowly shy as visiting Marist edged the host Beacons 27-24 in overtime on Homecoming Saturday at Brown Field. Valpo outscored the Red Foxes 14-0 in the fourth quarter to send the game to OT. In the extra session, the Beacons settled for a field goal on their possession before Marist won the game on a 25-yard touchdown pass on their first offensive snap.
How It Happened
- Marist (1-2, 1-0 PFL) received the opening kickoff and turned that drive into a seven-play, 75-yard scoring march that ended with Hunter Cobb’s 19-yard touchdown rush.
- After the two teams exchanged punts, a 36-yard run by Robert Washington (Huntersville, N.C. / East Gaston [Old Dominion]) helped set up his eventual 1-yard TD plunge to make it 7-7 with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
- On the first play of the second quarter, Cobb struck again, this time with a 45-yard run to lift the Red Foxes back in front 13-7. The PAT hit the right upright.
- With 1:14 left in the second quarter, Marist lined up for a 22-yard field goal on 4th-and-goal from the Valpo 4. Trey Psota (Bay Village, Ohio / Bay) blocked the kick, helping keep the score 13-7 at halftime. Valpo drove to the Marist 32 in the closing seconds of the half, but the Red Foxes came up with an interception to extinguish the threat.
- After a Valpo turnover on downs, Marist capitalized on a short field to produce the only points of the third quarter by either team. The drive was also aided by Valpo penalties. It finished with Brett Landis making a 36-yard TD catch that was followed by a successful two-point conversion pass to up Marist’s lead to 14 at 21-7.
- On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brett Bittner (Chicago, Ill. / St. Laurence) blocked a Marist punt, allowing the Beacons to take over on the Marist 5-yard line. The momentum-changing play set up 1-yard TD run by Washington to trim the lead to 21-14.
- Following the touchdown, Valpo nearly scored again on a bizarre kickoff play where the ball was almost legally recovered at the 1 by a Valpo player and taken into the end zone for a touchdown. After an elongated discussion amongst the officials, the ball was ruled to have been untouched by Marist and gone over the goal line for a touchback prior to the Valpo recovery.
- After forcing a punt on a drive where Marist went backward, Valpo took over near midfield. A heavy dose of Nick Orekoya (Billerica, Mass. / Everett [Massachusetts]) in the running game helped the Beacons move 52 yards on a five-play strike that ended with Orekoya finding the end zone from a yard out. The ensuing point after tied the game at 21.
- Psota, Nathan Orlandini (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington) and Austin Martins (Newman, Calif. / Orestimba [Modesto JC]) were involved in key sacks on Marist’s final possession of regulation, forcing the Red Foxes to punt and allowing the Beacons an opportunity with the ball on their own 39 yard-line and 18 seconds to work with. After a 20-yard completion from quarterback Ben Nimz (Waukesha, Wis. / Catholic Memorial) to Jordan Bingham (Indianapolis, Ind. / North Central), head coach Landon Fox sent out Brian Bartholomew (Sugar Grove, Ill. / Kaneland) for a 58-yard field goal try. The lengthy attempt came up short with no time on the clock, and the game extended to the extra session.
- Valpo produced one first down during its overtime possession, but was stopped for a two-yard gain on 3rd-and-7 from the Marist 10. That led to a 25-yard field goal from Bartholomew that sailed through the uprights, giving Valpo a 27-24 lead, needing a defensive stop to win the game.
- On Marist’s first offensive snap of OT, Max Mazzella made an impressive catch for a 25-yard TD to win the game.
Inside the Game
- This marked Valpo’s first overtime game since beating Campbell 49-42 on Sept. 28, 2013.
- Valpo’s top tackler was Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davidson), who accrued nine stops including five solos and 1 ½ tackles for loss.
- Valpo produced a season-high six sacks and also established a new season high in tackles for loss with 12 totaling 60 yards. Only 12 FCS teams nationally have had more than six sacks in a game this year.
- The six sacks marked Valpo’s most in a game since Oct. 3, 2009 (7 at Drake).
- Trejuan Purty (Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville [East Tennessee State]) and Keyon Turner (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) were credited with 2 ½ TFL apiece to pace the team. Turner and Orlandini each had 1 ½ sacks.
- Bittner became just the fourth player in the FCS nation with multiple blocked kicks this season. As a team, Valpo is tied for second nationally in FCS (pending stats from other games across the nation on Saturday) with four blocked kicks this fall.
- Nimz went 15-of-25 for 193 yards with Reese making three catches for a team-high 94 receiving yards, the most in a single game by a Valpo player this year.
- Washington enjoyed his third straight 100-yard rushing game with 27 carries for 149. As a team, Valpo produced a season-high 158 yards on the ground. Washington has seven 100-yard rushing efforts in his 11 career games at Valpo.
- Ben Niesner (Black Diamond, Wash. / Tahoma [Portland State]) averaged 40.8 yards per punt on eight kicks, seven of which were placed inside the 20.
- Washington’s two-TD game lifted his season total to four, while his career total increased to nine rushing and 10 overall. Orekoya’s touchdown was his first in a Valpo uniform.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame comments from head coach Landon Fox, running back Robert Washington and linebacker Evan Annis.
Valpo (1-4, 1-1) will attempt to bounce back next week as it makes the trip to St. Paul, Minn. to clash with St. Thomas at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9. The game will be broadcast on TommieSports.com as well as 95.1 FM Valparaiso, ValpoAthletics.com and the TuneIn radio app.