The Valparaiso University football team turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Rowan Keefe (Park Ridge, Ill. / Maine South) after halftime, and he appeared ready for the moment in his collegiate debut. He completed nine of his 12 pass attempts for 187 yards and three touchdowns in a game that saw host Davidson sustain a 21-0 halftime lead in a 42-21 victory at Smith Field in Davidson, N.C.
How It Happened
- On the first drive of the game, Davidson twice moved the chains on fourth down including a 41-yard pass on fourth-and-3 from the 43 that set up a two-yard touchdown plunge to make it 7-0 after a 12-play, 82-yard march that spanned 6:20.
- Valpo went three-and-out, but the defense came up with a takeaway as Onye Nwosisi (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cardinal Ridge [Muskingum]) recovered a fumble at the Davidson 42 with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
- The Beacons were stopped on four straight plays and turned the ball over on downs.
- The Wildcats used a nine-play, 64-yard drive that finished with a 12-yard TD reception by Brody Reina on a pass from Coulter Cleland to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
- Valpo moved the ball on its next drive with Brian Thomas (Apopka, Fla. / Orlando Christian Prep) putting together a pair of runs for eight yards or more and Jeffrey Jackson (San Diego, Calif. / Bishop’s [San Diego]) completing a 13-yard pass to Solomon Davis (Brighton, Tenn. / Brighton), but the series still resulted in a punt.
- Another long drive for Davidson (nine plays, 80 yards) finished with a 2-yard TD run by Mason Sheron to make it 21-0. That score stood going into the halftime break.
- Davidson once again found paydirt on its first drive of the second half to boost the lead to 28-0, but a 68-yard kickoff return by Jashon Butler (Lynwood, Wash. / Meadowdale [Arizona]) followed and helped spark the Beacons.
- Keefe connected on an 18-yard pass to Max Carter (Camarillo, Calif.) before finding Brandon Jimenez (Suffern, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep [Albany]) for a nine-yard touchdown to get Valpo on the board at 28-7 with 8:12 left in the third.
- Davidson scored again on its next drive, but Valpo had another quick response. Keefe started the ensuing Valpo drive with a 68-yard pass to Jimenez, setting up a five-yard touchdown catch by Thomas on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 35-14.
- A sack by Kobey Fitzgerald (Eastvale, Calif. / Servite [UCLA]) punctuated a three-and-out by the Valpo defense, then the Valpo offense once again started a drive with a big play. This time it was a 60-yard TD pass to Chris Gundy (Smithfield, VA. / Smithfield) to make it 35-21 with 12:45 to play.
- Valpo had life after the defense got a big stop on fourth-and-2 from the Valpo 9, forcing Davidson’s first turnover on downs of the day with 7:59 left in a two-score game. However, Valpo turned it over on downs on the ensuing drive and Davidson added a late touchdown to account for the game’s final margin.
Inside the Game
- Jimenez had two catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Gundy had two grabs for 73 yards and a score. Davis made a team-high four catches.
- Jimenez’s TD catch was his second of the season, while Gundy’s represented the first of his collegiate career. Thomas also recorded his first collegiate score.
- Butler had two kickoff returns for 90 yards including a long of 68, his third of 60+ yards this season.
- The Valpo defense was led by Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davidson) and Mohamed Kamara (Kalamazoo, Mich. / Kalamazoo Central [Hope]), who accrued 10 tackles apiece. This marked the first time this season a Valpo player racked up 10 or more tackles.
- Davidson improved to 16-1 in its last 17 home games and 4-0 in PFL play this season. The Wildcats are among the national leaders in most offensive categories. They have made three straight FCS Playoff appearances.
Valpo (1-6, 0-4 PFL) will play a rivalry game as the Battle for the Hoosier Helmet will transpire next Saturday at Butler. The game will kick off at noon CT in Indianapolis.