Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) spoiled Valparaiso’s home opener on Saturday night in front of more than 4,600 fans at Brown Field on Communiversity Night as the Pumas defeated the Crusaders 50-7.
“The atmosphere was awesome,” head coach Dale Carlson said after the game. “The guys were chomping at the bit to play. Playing at night is just great. I hope people understand that we are trying to build this program. It takes time but I hope people keep coming out to the games. We will get better.”
Playing the first night game ever on the Valparaiso University campus against Saint Joseph’s marked the 63rd meeting between the two Northwest Indiana rivals dating back to 1921.
The Pumas scored early and often, building a 40-0 lead at halftime. Mack Ogletree had three rushing scores while Garrick Hall added the first touchdown on the ground. Hall finished the night with 17 carries for 178 yards while Ogletree had 16 carries for 132 yards. Jashon Banks added 106 yards and a touchdown as Saint Joseph’s rushed for 474 yards in the contest.
Valpo found the scoreboard with 9:01 to play in the game as Ryan Lehr (Cincinnati, Ohio/Glen Este H.S.) scored his first collegiate touchdown from a yard out to cap an 11-play, 85-yard drive.
Eric Lemon (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore H.S.), who came in at quarterback in the second quarter, finished 22-of-39 for 184 yards. He did throw one interception which was returned for a touchdown though.
“Lemon was a little jittery when he first came in,” Carlson said. “We didn’t give him any time on that interception. He settled down and did a pretty good job of making decisions as the game went along. He made some good throws.”
Tim Bennett (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic H.S.) led Valpo with five receptions, while Sean McCarty (Waukesha, Wis./West H.S.) had a team-leading 53 yards in grabs, including a 47-yarder in the third quarter.
Eddie Morelli (Racine, Wis./Saint Catherines H.S.) had eight carries for 30 yards to lead the Crusader ground game.
Valpo finished the night with a season-high 254 yards of total offense, including 195 through the air.
Saint Joseph’s had 550 yards of total offense, including 474 yards on the ground. Ogletree completed 8-of-9 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Adrian Gober (Gary, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) had a team-leading seven tackles, including one for loss.
“We were thinking too much instead of just playing tonight,” Carlson added. “We as coaches need to do a better job of getting them to relax.”
Valparaiso (0-3) will return to Brown Field next Saturday afternoon to host Drake on Homecoming. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.
Game Notes: Saint Joseph’s leads the all-time series 33-28-2 … the attendance was 4,673 on an evening in which the rain stayed away after being forecasted for all evening … Valpo is now 48-40-2 all-time in home openers … the Crusaders were penalized just once for five yards.