Morehead State scored on its first five possessions of the game Saturday afternoon as the Eagles defeated Valparaiso 44-10 at Jayne Stadium in Morehead, Ky.
The Crusaders scored first, but the Eagles were able to play the entire first half without punting on the way to the Pioneer Football League victory.
Valpo took the opening kick and marched down field using balanced offensive attack of running and passing. Warren Arnold (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) completed three of four passes and Ross Wiemer (Burlington, Wis./Burlington H.S.) carried four times, including a 20-yard touchdown run straight up the middle to give the Crusaders the early lead just five minutes into the contest.
The Eagles answered quickly, needing just five plays to tie the game. A 34-yard run by quarterback Jared Phillips and a 42-yard pass from Phillips to Brendan McLaughlin set up a two-yard touchdown run by Jerrod Pendleton.
After a Crusader punt, Morehead State again moved down field, but following an offensive face masking penalty had to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Mason Webb to take a 10-7 lead with 2:57 to play in the opening quarter.
Morehead State added to its lead on the second play of the second quarter as Cory Jackson took a reverse and went around right end for a five-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 10-point advantage. The Eagles capitalized on their fourth drive as well, converting a fourth-and-three, and scoring on Pendleton’s second two-yard run of the game to build a 24-7 lead with 8:52 to play before halftime.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, David Hyland intercepted an Arnold pass and scampered 46 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
Valpo ran the two-minute offense to put three more points on the board before halftime. Starting at their own 35-yard line with 1:10 to play, they moved down to the Eagles 25, before David Hamaker (Plano, Texas/West H.S.) converted on a 42-yard field goal as time expired, cutting the deficit to 31-10 at halftime.
The Crusaders had the first chance to score in the third quarter after Eli Crawford (Bogart, Ga./North Oconee H.S.) intercepted a pass and the Valpo offense drove down to the seven-yard line. The Eagles stopped the Crusaders on fourth down with 2:42 to play in the quarter, ending the threat though.
Pendleton scored for the third time on the afternoon with 10:36 to play in the game on a four-yard run, but the point after try failed and Morehead State increased the lead to 37-10. Phillips closed out the scoring for the hosts with a 47-yard touchdown run with 2:28 to play in the game.
Morehead State (4-5, 2-3 PFL) finished the game with 437 yards of total offense, including 289 yards on the ground while the Crusaders had just 233 yards on the offensive side of the ball. Phillips had nine carries for 117 yards while Erick Fitzpatrick had 14 rushes for 100 yards. Wiemer led Valpo’s ground attack with 10 carries for 59 yards.
Phillips was 5-of-13 passing for 146 yards while Arnold completed 11-of-26 for 69 yards.
“We went into game wanting to get penalties down and did that,” head coach Stacy Adams said. “Right now we’re trying to get better at some facet of the game each week. Next week we just want to get better in something else.”
Valparaiso (2-6, 1-4) returns to Brown Field next Saturday afternoon when the Crusaders play host to Jacksonville. Kickoff for the Parents’ Weekend game is set for 1 p.m., with all of the action carried live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network.
Game Notes: Andrej Skiba (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor H.S.) made his collegiate debut kicking off for Valpo and booted his first effort into the end zone for a touchback … Mitch Secrest (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland H.S.) had a career-long 68-yard punt in the third quarter … Wiemer’s touchdown run was his eighth of the season and 13th of his career.