VALPARAISO | Had the game counted, it would’ve gone down as one of the most exciting finishes ever at Brown Field.
Instead, the Valparaiso football team went through quite a learning experience at the annual Brown/Gold game on Saturday afternoon.
Brown running back Grayson Bastin was stopped at the 1-yard line by a host of Gold defenders as time expired, giving Gold a 24-21 victory in coach Dave Cecchini’s first spring game with the Crusaders.
“We wanted everything to come down to that one play and I thought the defense really responded,” Cecchini said. “It was really a great finish.”
The annual event switched to a traditional game format this year as captains picked the teams in the days leading up to the game. The scrimmage has normally pitted the offense against the defense in a modified scoring system, but the players embraced the change.
“Everything was much more competitive,” Gold running back Jake Hutson said. “We were getting on each other on Twitter throughout the week and this really helped build camaraderie.”
The final play overshadowed a breakout performance by Bastin. Limited in the running game last fall, the sophomore ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, but was left shaking his head over the final play. With the clock winding down and without any timeouts, Brown quarterback Scott Staal dumped off a quick pass to Bastin inside the 2-yard line. As Bastin moved toward the goal line, John Guliford and Ryan Mundy combined to make the stop.
“I knew I’d have to beat at least one guy,” Bastin said. “I put my head down and I really thought I got there, but they came up with the play. I’m going to get some grief for that one.”
In addition to the game-winning tackle, Guliford added three tackles and two sacks. The junior defensive end led the Crusaders with six sacks last season and feels even more pressure to deliver under Cecchini.
“There is a higher intensity and we have very little room for error,” Guliford said. “We need to be more perfect with these coaches.”
Brandon Hall led the Gold team with three rushing touchdowns while Tanner Kuramata added five catches for 56 yards. Nick Moffitt had two pass breakups for the Brown squad and Colin Burke led both teams with 4.5 tackles.
“We still have a long ways to go,” Cecchini said. “I liked the effort and the attitude from our guys. We’ll do a lot of evaluating from this game, but there is still a long to go until Western Illinois.”