The Valparaiso University football team ran into a talented, complete Campbell team on Saturday afternoon at Barker-Lane Stadium in Buies Creek, N.C., as the Camels continued their run of recent dominance in the Pioneer Football League with a 49-10 victory over the Crusaders. Campbell is playing in its final season in the PFL before transitioning to the scholarship Big South Conference.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (2-4, 1-2 PFL) got off to a favorable start when Campbell’s Montel Goods fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and junior Nick Turner (Gurnee, Ill. / Washington Township) continued his breakout season by recovering the fumble at the Campbell 27.
- Valpo took advantage of the favorable field position, utilizing a Jimmy Seewald (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child) run on fourth-and-2 to set up first-and-goal from the Campbell 2. Cody Boxrucker (West Chester, Ohio / Badin) did the rest, plowing into the end zone on first-and-goal to give Valpo a 7-0 lead with 11:29 left in the first quarter.
- The Camels (4-2, 3-0 PFL) marched down field, starting their drive with six straight plays of five yards or more. Valpo eventually forced a fourth-and-goal, but Goods barreled in from a yard out to tie the game at seven with 8:15 left in the first quarter.
- The Crusaders went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, then Campbell put together a 10-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Zach Roderick hauling in a go-ahead, 15-yard TD pass from Daniel Smith to put the Camels up 14-7 with 4:32 left in the first.
- With rain pouring down, a fumbled snap on a Valpo punt resulted in a Campbell touchdown as Wale Ashaye picked it up and ran 15 yards to the end zone to expand Campbell’s lead to 21-7 with 3:06 left in the first.
- Trey Sanders hauled in a perfectly thrown ball by Smith down the left sideline and marched into the end zone for a 46-yard TD completion, allowing Campbell to extend the lead to 28-7.
- Valpo put together its best drive of the half as Cartales had a 12-yard catch on fourth-and-3 from Valpo territory to move the chains, then Seewald found Jean Rene (Delray Beach, Fla. / Wellington Community) for a 26-yard grab over the middle. However, the drive ended with a missed field goal, the first of the season missed by Dimitrios Latsonas (Westmont, Ill. / Westmont).
- The Camels scored again when a quick two-play, 80-yard drive featured a 69-yard Smith-to-Michael Wooten touchdown, making it 35-7 with 11:44 left in the half.
- Two interceptions in the second quarter helped the Camels tack on two more scores and carry a 49-7 lead into the break.
- Valpo started the second half with three consecutive plays that went for 10 yards or more, highlighted by a 19-yard run by Chris Duncan. The drive resulted in points, as Latsonas sent a 32-yard field goal through the uprights to make it 49-10.
- The Crusaders showed improvement after halftime, holding the Camels off the scoreboard for the entire second half. The Crusaders forced Campbell to punt three times in the second half.
Inside the Game
- Turner notched his first fumble recovery of the season and turned in his second-straight double-figure tackle game. This week, Turner paced Valpo’s defense with 10 stops. Austin Petrie (Livonia, Mich. / Stevenson) and Drew Snouffer (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington) chipped in seven tackles apiece.
- Boxrucker’s TD run was his sixth of the season and the 13th of his Valpo career as only a sophomore. He finished as the team’s leading rusher with 13 carries for 53 yards.
- After his first miss of the year, Latsonas bounced back with his seventh made field goal of the season.
- Rene led the team in receiving with six grabs for 57 yards, his season high in receptions and his most in a game since 2015.
- Duncan played the second half at quarterback and went 10-of-21 for 119 yards.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Cecchini
- Thoughts on the Game: “That’s why they’re so good. They make big plays on defense and give their offense short fields, and their offense is really good to begin with.”
- On First Half: “The game started amazingly well for us with the big turnover on the first play, putting it in the end zone and converting several fourth downs. The rain and the wind came down at the wrong time, and it got a little sloppy. There were a couple huge turnovers, and that’s what their team does. They’ve got talent at the safety and corner positions. They played very well; they were as advertised. Our quarterbacks did a great job with reads, but a poor job looking off safeties and putting less air on our throws.”
- On Campbell: “This is such an opportunistic defense. They’re tall, long defensive backs with good verticals. This is without question the most talented PFL team in the three and a half years I’ve been here. Offensively, defensively and on special teams, there’s not a weak link in their armor. They are unbelievably talented in all three phases of the game.”
- On The Second Half: “I’m really proud that we won 3-0 in the second half. We played the best defense that we’ve played all year, and did so against their starters. Our players did a great job in the second half taking it one play at a time and staying focused. That doesn’t take anything away from the 20 minutes where they made the plays and we didn’t. You can’t do that against a team that’s as good as Campbell. There are a lot of positives to take away, but it doesn’t remove the sting of getting beaten 49-10. We played a lot of young players in the second half, and they handled themselves against some really good players.”
The Crusaders will return home to Brown Field to host Marist next week at 1 p.m. CT at Brown Field. The game will be broadcast on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with links to live audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.