VALPARAISO | There were two types of broken records on display at Brown Field on Saturday afternoon.
Eric Hoffman established a new Valparaiso record with 495 passing yards, but the Crusaders again struggled with the big play defensively and ran out of time in a 36-34 home-opening loss to William Jewell.
Hoffman broke David Macchi’s single-game passing mark of 452 yards that was set on Sept. 27, 2003 against Jacksonville. The junior quarterback also broke his own school mark with 36 completions.
“We’re not here to break records,” Hoffman said. “We’re here to win football games.”
The Crusaders entered with the plan to throw the ball and that strategy was heightened when star running back Jake Hutson left the game early in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. The sophomore left the field at halftime and wasn’t seen on the sidelines in the second half.
“We spoke to the training staff and they thought with the bye coming in and conference play coming that it would be best to keep him out,” Valparaiso coach Dale Carlson said. “We knew that (William Jewell) would try to take away the run and they were putting seven or eight guys in the box.”
Valparaiso marched down the field on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead and then answered a William Jewell touchdown with one of its own, but failed to convert the extra point. The failed attempt was just the beginning of mistakes in the kicking game that derailed Valparaiso’s chances. Josh Young missed a 29-yard field goal after a lengthy drive in the third quarter and then Jacob Newman kicked the ball out of bounds following a Valparaiso touchdown late in the game that gave the Cardinals excellent field position.
“That’s a lack of focus,” Carlson said. “We did a good job the first two weeks in penalties. We have to be able to execute in the kicking game.”
The Crusaders surrendered 26 unanswered points, beginning with a 73-yard touchdown run from William Jewell sophomore Thomas Cook. Hoffman broke the scoring run with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Fred Gladney early in the fourth quarter and with a 69-yard catch-and-run from Tanner Kuramata that cut the deficit to 33-27.
Following Newman’s kicking penalty, the Crusaders were whistled for roughing the passer, giving the Cardinals great field position for a drive that ended with the game-clinching 42-yard field goal from Warren Frevert. Hoffman connected with freshman Denzel Conway on a 1-yard touchdown pass late in the game, but the Crusaders failed to recover an onside kick that would’ve given them a final shot at the win.
“We need to focus on getting these last two weeks out of our mind,” Hoffman said. “We’ve got a week off, then we have conference play coming up and that’s what we’re playing for. We know that there’s a lot of football left to be played.”