The Valparaiso University football team shattered a school record for single-game rushing touchdowns with eight while posting the fifth-highest point total in program history during a lengthy 65-55 victory over visiting Presbyterian on Saturday afternoon at Brown Field. Nick Orekoya (Billerica, Mass. / Everett [Massachusetts]) tied a program record with four rushing TDs, while Robert Washington (Huntersville, N.C. / East Gaston [Old Dominion]) ran for three scores and accrued 234 yards on the ground. The 120 combined points shattered a Valpo single-game record that had stood since 1923. In addition, kicker Brian Bartholomew (Sugar Grove, Ill. / Kaneland) made eight PATs to break the program’s single-game mark.
How It Happened
- How long do you have? A three-hour, 49-minute affair began with the Blue Hose striking first on a 49-yard TD run on their opening possession. A two-point conversion made it 8-0.
- Valpo’s first three drives of the game all resulted in Orekoya TD runs. He scored from four, seven and two yards out.
- Washington got in on the act with a 61-yard TD run to help the Beacons open up a 20-point lead at 28-8 with 1:32 left of first-quarter time.
- A 10-play, 70-yard Presbyterian drive was capped by a Ren Hefley to Austin Polson 12-yard score through the air to make it 28-14. The PAT was blocked by Nathan Orlandini (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington) as Valpo continued its kick-blocking prowess.
- Presbyterian’s Jalen Jones had a pair of second-quarter TD receptions, which occurred from nine yards and 75 yards. Those scores were sandwiched around a 37-yard field goal by Bartholomew.
- Valpo took advantage of strong field position and found paydirt once more prior to halftime as Washington marched in from two yards out to up the lead to 38-28. Valpo defensive back Keyon Turner (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) made an interception on the final play of the first half to help the Beacons hold a 10-point halftime cushion.
- Presbyterian’s first two drives of the second half both ended in interceptions as Gavin Twigg (Acworth, Ga. / Allatoona) and Jadarius Horton (Charlotte, N.C. / West Charlotte [Southwestern College]) recorded picks.
- The second-half scoring started with a five-yard TD run by Valpo quarterback Jeffrey Jackson (San Diego, Calif. / Bishop’s [San Diego]) with 4:36 left in the third to make it 45-28 Valpo.
- Jones responded with his third TD catch of the day from 34 yards out with 2:36 to go in the third, then Valpo returned to the end zone on a 25-yard run by Washington that made it 52-34.
- A 61-yard TD to Jones helped the Blue Hose cut the deficit to 12 (2-point try failed), then Jackson connected with Connor Hebbeler (Franklin Lakes, N.J. / Bergen Catholic [Wake Forest]) for a 27-yard score, Valpo’s lone passing TD of the day. The Beacons tried a fake PAT, but Bartholomew’s pass was incomplete and it remained an 18-point lead at 58-40 with 11:34 remaining.
- Jones’ fifth receiving TD of the afternoon came from 50 yards out and made it 58-48 following the successful 2-point conversion. The Blue Hose followed that by recovering an onside kick, then scored again on a nine-play, 57-yard drive to trim the lead to three at 58-55.
- Orekoya’s record-tying fourth rushing score of the day came from six yards out with 5:36 on the clock to up the lead back to 10 at 65-55. That stood as the game’s final score.
Inside the Game
- The 120 combined points shattered the previous record of 110 for combined points in a Valpo game. The prior record had stood since Nov. 2, 1923, when Valpo beat Lewis by the unusual score of 110-0.
- The 65 points represented Valpo’s highest single-game output since Sept. 14, 1996, a 66-21 victory over Alma. This marked the fifth-highest single-game scoring output in program history. In addition to the Alma game in 1996, Valpo scored 78 against Indiana Central in 1958, 85 against Northwestern in 1920 and the aforementioned scoring record of 110 against Lewis in 1923.
- Orekoya’s four rushing scores tied a program record as he became the seventh Valpo player with four rushing TDs in a single game. He was the first to accomplish the feat since Jeff Horton on Sept. 2, 2006 at Wisconsin Lutheran.
- Washington’s career-high 234 rushing yards were the most by a Valpo player in a single game since Jake Hutson had 248 on Nov. 2, 2012 at Campbell. Washington finished the game with 282 all-purpose yards.
- Valpo’s 65 points marks the 12th-highest single-game scoring output in the FCS nation this season.
- The eight rushing TDs in the game were the most in a single game in the FCS nation this season. Entering play on Saturday, Michigan (8 vs. Northern Illinois on Sept. 18) was the only NCAA Division-I team with eight rushing scores in a single game this fall.
- The eight rushing TDs shattered the previous program record of seven set in 1954 and matched on three occasions – most recently Sept. 23, 1995 at Kalamazoo.
- Orekoya became the sixth player in the FCS nation with four rushing scores in a game this season, tying for third nationally behind a pair of individuals who have five rushing TD games this year.
- Washington’s 234 rushing yards are the fifth-most in a single game in the FCS nation this season.
- Valpo rushed for 298 yards and boasted 426 yards of total offense, both season highs. The 298 rushing yards were the team’s most since accruing 299 on Oct. 12, 2019 vs. Dayton. The 426 yards of total offense were also the most since that 2019 Dayton game (447).
- Orlandini blocked a kick for the second straight week, joining Brett Bittner (3) as Valpo players with multiple blocked kicks this season. There are 15 players in the FCS nation with multiple blocked kicks this year, and two of them play for the Beacons.
- Valpo has now blocked eight kicks this season, holding the outright lead in all of Division-I college football, both FBS and FCS. The Orlandini block on Saturday was the team’s first blocked PAT of the season, joining four punts and three field goals that have been turned away by the Beacons.
- In addition, Valpo’s eighth blocked kick of the year allowed this year’s team to move into sole possession of second in the program record book for single-season blocked kicks. This year’s squad has now surpassed the 2002 team (seven) and is behind only the 1991 group, which blocked a program-record 14 kicks.
- The Valpo defense notched 18 tackles for loss including 10 sacks. The 10 sacks tied for the second-most in the FCS nation this season as Valpo became just the fourth team nationally with a double-figure sack total in a single game this year.
- The 18 TFL also tied for the most in a single game nationally this season in FCS.
- The 10 sacks were one shy of a PFL record, set by Dayton in 2011 and tied by Stetson last week against Presbyterian.
- Valpo’s TFL total was its highest in a single game since at least 2004 and the sack total was the program’s first double-figure performance in that area in over 20 years.
- Purty had five tackles for loss including four sacks. He became just the ninth player in the FCS nation with five or more TFL in a single game this season as his total is tied for third nationally. He was one sack shy of a PFL record of six set by Pat Dowd of Dayton in 2013 at Drake. Purty was the eighth player nationally with four or more sacks in a game this season. His four sacks are tied for the fifth-most in a single game in Division-I FCS this year.
- Twigg boasted four TFL, while Price recorded three sacks. Trey Psota (Bay Village, Oio / Bay) posted a team-high 13 tackles.
- Turner’s interception was his first of the season and the fifth of his Valpo career. It was his first takeaway of the season and the seventh of his collegiate tenure.
- Twigg and Horton both enjoyed their first career interceptions.
- Jeffrey Jackson had his first rushing and passing TDs in a Valpo uniform. Hebbeler’s TD catch was his first Valpo score.
- Orekoya had one rushing TD all season prior to his breakout performance with four on Saturday.
- Washington is up to 11 rushing TDs this season. Thanks to his three on Saturday, he now ranks second on Valpo’s single-season rushing TD list. He surpassed a four-way second place tie with 10 (Brandon Hall, Ross Wiemer, Jeff Horton and David Zurcher) and is now behind only Dave Newman’s 1977 program record of 14.
- Based on stats entering Saturday’s action, 11 rushing TDs would put Washington tied for seventh nationally this season.
- Thanks to his effort against the Blue Hose, Washington has rushed for 844 yards this season. He has cracked the top 5 in single-season program history as his current total ranks fifth. He bumped Ross Wiemer’s 2008 accumulation of 824 rushing yards out of the single-season top five on Saturday. Brandon Hall’s 2014 season is fourth at 855.
- Washington is up to 1,497 career rushing yards, the highest total by any Valpo player since Jeff Horton closed out his career in 2007 with a school-record 3,072. Washington needs to get to 1,644 to crack the program’s all-time top 10, and Saturday was just his 15th career game.
- Bartholomew went 1-for-1 on field goals, averaged 47.3 yards per kickoff and booted three touchbacks. Most notably, he shattered a single-game program record with eight made extra points. The previous record of seven was set in 1984 by Kevin Mackey and matched six times since.
- In addition, Bartholomew is 24-for-24 this season and 37-for-37 in his career on extra points. The program record for consecutive PATs without a miss is 49 set by Mackey from 1983-1985. Bartholomew is six away from cracking the single-season top five.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (3-6, 3-3 PFL) will take on Butler in the Hoosier Helmet rivalry game next week in Indianapolis. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. CT / noon ET on Saturday with streaming coverage available on YouTube Live courtesy of Butler Athletics and the hometown radio call on 95.1 FM Valparaiso WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com and the TuneIn Radio app.