The Valparaiso University football team fell 53-20 on Saturday at Welcome Stadium to perennial Pioneer Football League power Dayton. Valpo played without several key players due to injuries, including two senior captains on defense. Junior running back Kyle Cartales (Loxahatchee, Fla. / Cardinal Newman) racked up 116 yards on 15 carries to lead the offense.
How It Happened
- Valpo received the ball to start the game before the second play from scrimmage went for an interception, giving Dayton a short field that resulted in an early touchdown. The Flyers doubled the lead after their next drive (11 plays, 83 yards), making it 14-0 with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
- After Cartales broke off his first big run of the day for 17 yards to push the ball near midfield, senior receiver Griffin Norberg (Sunrise, Fla. / Western) provided his weekly highlight. Duncan aired one out down the left sideline that was hauled in by Norberg, who sped his way into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown. That shrunk the deficit in half and made it 14-7 with 2:34 left in the first.
- After the Flyers made it 21-7 with their third straight touchdown drive on their third possession of the game, a 51-yard punt return for a touchdown allowed the hosts to build up a 28-7 edge.
- Valpo responded quickly by taking advantage of strong field position set up by a 32-yard kickoff return by Bailey Gessinger (Napanee, Ind. / Northwood) on the team’s next drive. Redshirt freshman Ryan Markoff (Centerville, Ohio / Archbishop Alter) took snaps at quarterback for the first time since his Week 1 injury against Duquesne and flashed his athleticism right away. He took off for a 44-yard run to put Valpo in the red zone, a drive that eventually concluded when Brannen Martin (Reading, Ohio / Elder) was wide open for a touchdown on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Chris Duncan (Woodland Hills, Calif. / Woodland Hills-Taft) on third-and-goal. That score took a bite out of the Dayton lead and made it 28-13 with 8:20 left in the second quarter.
- The Valpo defense forced its first stop of the day after Laddie Skarecky (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central) made a key tackle on third down to halt the Flyers two yards shy of moving the chains. However, a fumble on the punt return allowed Dayton to take back over on the Valpo 16. The defense again held strong, this time forcing the Flyers to settle for a 32-yard field goal that extended the lead to 31-13 with 3:27 left in the second quarter.
- Dayton quarterback Jack Cook continued a strong day with a 60-yard TD pass to Kyle Butz before halftime, making it 37-13 at the intermission.
- Dayton (3-3, 2-1) outscored Valpo 16-0 in the third quarter. Valpo’s first points of the second half came on an 11-yard TD run by Cartales with 1:06 remaining in the fourth. The Cartales TD was the only scoring by either team in the final period. That drive started when redshirt freshman Cade Bishop (Lafayette, Ind. / William Henry Harrison) made a fumble recovery at the Valpo 26.
Inside the Game
- Cartales enjoyed the first 100-yard rushing game of his career, compiling a career-high 116 rushing yards on 15 carries for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. His rushing total was the highest by any Valpo player in a game since Jarrett Morgan ran for 127 on Sept. 16, 2017 against Trinity International. It was the most rushing yards by a Valpo player in a single game against a Division-I opponent since Brandon Hall had 120 on Oct. 25, 2014 against Morehead State.
- Cartales picked up his seventh career rushing touchdown and his 11th career TD overall.
- The team’s 179 rushing yards marked the most since Valpo racked up 281 on Oct. 28, 2017 against Morehead State.
- Norberg has had touchdown receptions of 58 yards or longer in four of his five games this season. He has 13 career touchdowns, 11 receiving.
- Not only did Martin make his first career TD catch, but he entered the game with just one career reception (Sept. 16, 2017 at Trinity International).
- Bishop became the first Valpo player to recover a fumble this season. This was Valpo’s first fumble recovery since Drew Snouffer and Jay Slone each had one on Nov. 18, 2017, also against Dayton.
- Austin Petrie (Livonia, Mich. / Stevenson) led the team with nine tackles, one shy of his career high from the season opener against Duquesne. True freshman Michael Scarsella (Valparaiso, Ind. / Valparaiso) had the most productive day of his young career with seven tackles.
- Duncan went 10-of-25 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Norberg led the receiving corps with four catches for 81 yards.
- Dayton redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Cook turned in a strong performance, racking up 292 yards through the air on 19-of-22 passing.
- Valpo registered 300 yards of total offense, but Dayton gained 532.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Cecchini
On The Defense: “We did a great job stopping the run on first and second down. It is disheartening when you play a team that takes pride in running the football and you stop them on first and second down, but you’re unable to get off the field on third down. That was our main issue in the first half.”
On Dayton QB Jack Cook: “He’s a talented young player who has a lot of good years ahead of him. Their starting QB got hurt early in the year, and they’ve played the last couple games without their starter. Cook seems to get better and better each passing week. Unfortunately, we’ve gone the opposite way on defense, and a lot of it is due to injuries. We had a lot of young players who went out there and did their best and gave a great effort, but obviously we came up more than just a little short today.”
On Quarterbacks: “It was good to have Ryan (Markoff) back after he left with an injury after only three snaps in his first career game. We were excited to have him back and he showed some of the things he’s capable of doing. I’d love to have more plays with him out there right now, but he’s been out so he hasn’t had a lot of reps in practice. He’s still working to master the offense. Chris (Duncan) stepped up and did a good job playing through an ankle injury. He managed the game well after his first pass of the day. There are three candidates to play quarterback next week with Ryan, Jimmy and Chris all in the mix.”
Valpo (0-5, 0-2) will be back home next week for the annual Hoosier Helmet rivalry game against Butler. The kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. and will air on ESPN+ with Todd Ickow and Dave Huseman on the call. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.