The Valparaiso University football team held its annual spring game on Saturday at Brown Field. Using an offense against defense format, the offense was assigned as the Gold team, while the defense was the Brown team. The game was broken down into three challenges with points being awarded to each team for various successful plays. The Brown team came away victorious, winning two out of the three segments.
In the 18-play first round, it was all about fourth down. The offense’s goal was to get a first down, while the defense’s objective was to get a stop. Each play was worth one point for either side. The second segment focused on the red zone. With six possessions to work with, the Gold team needed 26 total points to win. The final challenge was set up like a normal game, but with modified scoring for specific plays made on either side.
“Overall it was a good day,” head coach Dave Cecchini said. “I think the defense certainly stepped up. They earned a hard-fought victory by winning two of the three challenges. They stepped up and made plays, they got some turnovers and made some outstanding fourth-down stops. They provided a physical presence and brought an emotional intensity with them today.”
How It Happened
- The Gold team got off to a quick start, scoring the first point with sophomore RB Kyle Cartales (Loxahatchee, Fla./ Cardinal Newman) carrying the ball for a first down. The Brown team got on the board with a stop on the next play.
- A keeper by redshirt freshman QB Chris Duncan (Woodland Hills, Calif./Woodland Hills-Taft) made it 2-1 Gold before passes were incomplete on the next two plays.
- The defense went up 4-2 after halting a run play.
- With freshman Santrell Tamir (Chicago, Ill./Comer Prep.) carrying the ball, the Gold team broke through for a point, before the Brown team answered with four points of their own with three stops on the ground, along with an incomplete pass.
- Redshirt sophomore QB Joe Mullen (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward’s) closed the gap with passes to junior WR Griffin Norberg (Sunrise, Fla./Western) and redshirt sophomore RB Elias Earley (Land O’ Lakes, Fla./Carrollwood Day) to score two more for Gold, making it 8-5 in favor of Brown.
- An incomplete pass gave the defense another point, but then a Duncan run answered for the offense, along with a pass to freshman Ryan Markoff (Centerville, Ohio/Archbishop Alter).
- Brown scored once more after an incomplete pass by Duncan, but Gold scored one more on a Duncan keeper.
- The final score of the first segment ended in a 10-8 win for the Brown team.
- In the red zone scrimmage challenge, the Gold team got off to a hot start with a touchdown on the first play. A pass from Bilinski to sophomore WR Bailey Gessinger (Nappanee, Ind./NorthWood) put the offense on the board first, gave them a 7-0 lead after a point after was good by sophomore kicker Dimitrios Latsonas (Westmont, Ill./Westmont).
- On the second possession, the Gold team came away with three more point when Latsonas connected on a field goal. Gold now needed only 16 points for the victory.
- A holding penalty resulted in a 10-yard loss to start the third possession for the offense, followed by a fumble and an unsportsmanlike penalty that stalled any momentum for the Gold team.
- An incomplete pass and a failed run attempt ended the possession.
- Running plays by Earley and Trey Bilinski (Napanee, Ind. / Northwood), and then an incomplete pass forced the offense to try another field goal, which was missed to the right.
- Runs by Earley and sophomore RB Cody Boxrucker (West Chester, Ohio/Badin) got things going in the fifth possession for the Gold team.
- After a fumble and a short gain by Cartales, Markoff capped off the drive with a 1-yard run for a touchdown.
- A run by freshman Deuce Larose (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) on a two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Gold team with 16 points.
- The final possession saw the offense again drive the ball down with big runs from Haugh and Duncan, before Duncan punched it in for another score.
- The segment ended with another two-point try that was no good. The Gold team only scored 22 points, giving the Brown team another victory.
- The final segment’s first drive started with a long completion from Bilinski to Gessinger for 28 yards.
- A couple Earley runs for short yardage put the Gold team in fourth-down territory.
- Sophomore LB Austin Petrie (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson) recorded a sack to give the Brown team two points.
- The offense started well on the second drive with completed passes from Mullen to redshirt freshman FB Brannen Martin (Reading, Ohio/Elder) and freshman WR Trey Stablein (Delaware, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty), along with successful runs by Haugh, but an interception by freshman DB Stacey Jones (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township) gave the Brown team three more points.
- The defense was up 5-0 when Duncan collected two first downs on the third drive by way of a run and a pass to Markoff.
- Boxrucker kept the momentum flowing for Gold with carries for 8 and 7 yards.
- Earley was then able to get a first down to set up Duncan for the touchdown on a keeper the following play, putting the offense on the board.
- A successful two-point conversion run gave the Gold team an 8-5 advantage going into the fourth drive.
- The drive ended after a fumble that was recovered by the defense, giving them three more points to tie the challenge at eight points apiece.
- The Gold team committed a holding penalty, which gave the Brown team another point to start the fifth drive.
- Cartales, Earley, Haugh, Markoff and Mullen all contributed to record five first downs in the drive, with a Haugh run converting a fourth down.
- A fourth down at the 4-yard line gave Latsonas another attempt at a field goal, which he sent through the uprights for three more points for Gold, reclaiming the lead 11-9.
- The last drive resulted in a sack of Duncan and one more point for Brown.
- The third and final segment ended with a win for Gold by a score of 11-10.
The Crusaders will begin the 2018 season in the fall with a bye, then two consecutive road games at Duquesne and Youngstown State before hosting Truman State at Brown Field for the home opener on Sept. 22.