The 2017 Valparaiso University team continued to establish new precedents on a chilly Saturday at Brown Field. The Crusaders once again did something no Valpo team had done before – this time scoring over 60 points in a Pioneer Football League game. Valpo dominated visiting Morehead State 63-32, turning in the fifth-highest scoring output in program history and the highest since 1996. The Crusaders forced six turnovers and racked up 597 yards of offense in the win.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (4-4, 3-2 PFL) set the tone right away, scoring on the opening drive as Griffin Norberg (Sunrise, Fla. / Western) took a direct snap and ran into the end zone for a 2-yard score. The Crusaders owned a 7-0 edge with 9:47 left in the first quarter.
- Valpo doubled the lead on a wacky play with 54 seconds left in the first as Morehead State’s punt into a strong wind went negative-2 yards into its own end zone, where John Regan (Oak Lawn, Ill. / St. Rita) picked up the ball for a touchdown to make it 14-0. The play officially went down as a 0-yard punt return for a TD.
- The Eagles (4-6, 3-3) fumbled the kickoff return as Cam Kelly (Stamford, Conn. / The Brunswick School) recovered at the Morehead 34 and the Crusaders had possession once again. Jean Rene (Delray Beach, Fla. / Wellington Community) took the first play of the drive and went 34 yards for a Crusader touchdown to make it 21-0.
- After Morehead State cracked the scoreboard with a touchdown pass followed by a failed PAT early in the second, the Crusaders expanded the cushion again when Norberg plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out for his second score of the day to make it 28-6 with 10:35 to go in the first half. The Norberg rush capped a drive highlighted by a 79-yard completion from Jimmy Seewald (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child) to Donny Navarro (Naperville, Ill. / Neaqua Valley).
- The scores just kept coming as Seewald connected with Rene for a 54-yard TD with 4:55 left in the half, then a Dilan Scargle (Dundin, Fla. / Clearwater Central Catholic) interception helped set up a short field for the Crusaders, who took full advantage. A 17-yard pass completion from Seewald to Kyle Cartales (Loxahatchee, Fla. / Cardinal Newman) boosted the lead to 42-6 at the break.
- The Crusaders also got a pair of key first-half interceptions from Austin Petrie (Livonia, Mich. / Stevenson) – one in each of the first two quarters.
- The day continued to get better and better for the Crusaders as soon as the second half got underway. The Eagles attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by Valpo’s Matthew Messler (Charlotte, N.C. / Ardrey Kell), who picked it up and took it 33 yards to the Morehead State 10, setting up prime field position for the Crusaders.
- After an offside penalty against Morehead State, Jarrett Morgan (Cooper City, Fla. / Cooper City) sprinted into the end zone from 5 yards out to make it 49-6.
- Following a Morehead State score to cut the lead to 49-12, Morgan added another rushing touchdown – this one from 15 yards to extend the edge to 56-12 with 10:56 to go in the third.
- The Eagles took a small bite out the lead with a pair of touchdowns, but then Valpo sealed the deal with another key turnover. Jamari Booker (Kentwood, Mich. / East Kentwood) made a 13-yard interception return for a TD to make it a 56-26 lead with 2:37 remaining in the fourth. A 39-yard TD pass for Morehead State in the final minute accounted for the final score.
Inside the Game
- Saturday represented Valpo’s highest scoring output in a game since Sept. 14, 1996 against Alma (66). That is the only other time Valpo has scored more than 60 points in a game since 1969.
- Saturday’s 63 points marked the fifth-highest scoring output in program history. In addition to the Alma game in 1996, the Crusaders scored 78 against Indiana Central in 1958, 85 against Northwestern in 1920 and 110 against Lewis in 1923.
- Valpo’s 63 points is tied for the 14th-largest single-game scoring output in the NCAA this season.
- The Crusaders already had 42 points at halftime, their highest first-half total in a league game since at least 1950.
- The game against the Eagles served as quite the encore to a dominating 49-15 win over Marist in Valpo’s previous game. This marked the most points in consecutive games for Valpo since 1985 (W 55-48 vs. Alma, W 58-13 at Taylor).
- The Crusaders racked up 597 yards of offense – among the most productive games in the history of Valpo football. They finished just 16 yards shy of the school record 613, set against Alma in 1985.
- Norberg's rushing TDs were the first of his Valpo career. He has nine total career touchdowns including seven receiving scores.
- Rene enjoyed his first two touchdowns of the season on Saturday. He’s up to 11 receiving TDs and 12 total TDs for his Crusader career.
- Morgan now owns three rushing scores this season and eight in his career. Cartales picked up his sixth career TD and third receiving score.
- Booker’s interception was the first of his Valpo career and it was the first pick six by any Crusader this season. Kellan Hughes and Josmar Diaz-Martinez each had one a year ago.
- Petrie grabbed the second and third interceptions of his career, all coming this year. Scargle has three interceptions as a freshman, including one in each of the last two games.
- The Crusader defense has forced 12 turnovers in the last two games – six in each contest.
- Regan became the 24th player in program history with a punt return for a touchdown. Although it came in unconventional fashion, Regan became the first Crusader to return a punt for a TD since Jarrett Morgan in 2014.
- The win snapped a 10-game head-to-head losing streak with Morehead State that dated back to 2006. Valpo beat Morehead State at Brown Field for the first time since Nov. 22, 2003 – a 54-42 win in the PFL Championship Game. The lopsided victory featured a much different script than the one that unfolded each of the last three years, when Valpo led Morehead State with less than three minutes remaining and dropped all three contests.
- Valpo has won four straight PFL home games dating back to last year’s season finale against Jacksonville, the program’s first such streak since 1999-2001, when Valpo won five straight league home games.
- Valpo will finish with a winning record in home games for the second consecutive season after going above .500 in game played at Brown Field for the first time since 2004 in 2016.
- With three games to go, the Crusaders find themselves in the top half of the PFL standings, sitting in a tie for fourth place in the 11-team league.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Cecchini
“We talked about three things going into the game. The first was creating turnovers like we did against Marist. The second was making plays in special teams. The third was not letting this game be a close one in the fourth quarter because of the way our last three contests against Morehead ended. It was great to see the type of start we had. We didn’t want to take our foot off the gas. We wanted to stay aggressive and score as many points as possible against a team as talented as Morehead. We knew they were a dangerous team that could score a lot of points at any moment, so having a lead like that and scoring as many points as we did was incredible.”
The Crusaders will hit the road next week to visit Jacksonville. The game is slated to kick off at 11 a.m. CT as Valpo looks to defeat the Dolphins for the second straight season.