VALPARAISO | Bill Bodzianowski was motionless and in shock on the ground as the Davidson football team celebrated in the middle of Brown Field. It was a scene that could only tell part of the story Saturday afternoon.
Valparaiso quarterback Eric Hoffman hit Tanner Kuramata for a 4-yard touchdown in overtime against the Wildcats, but Bodzianowski was whistled for a personal foul penalty after the play. Mike Pando then pulled his extra-point attempt wide to the left, giving the Wildcats a chance to win the game with excellent field position.
Davidson receiver Lanny Funsten made a leaping grab in the end zone off a pass from Jonathan Carkhuff and Robert Shick converted the extra point to give Davidson a wild 28-27 victory at Brown Field.
“We didn’t make the plays that we needed to make,” Valparaiso coach Dale Carlson said. “In overtime you have to be perfect to win the game and we weren’t perfect.”
The Crusaders (1-9, 1-6 PFL) have endured plenty of losses in the last several years, but Saturday’s could’ve been the toughest. Valparaiso moved the ball throughout the game, but every time the Crusaders made their biggest gains, the officials littered the field with penalty flags.
Valparaiso had a touchdown taken off the board in the third quarter and a 46-yard completion wiped clean in the fourth, both due to offensive pass interference. Senior punter Greg Wood was mugged two plays after the long completion, but officials called running into the kicker as opposed to roughing the kicker.
Both Carlson and quarterback Eric Hoffman chose to take the high road in response to the officials.
“We just beat ourselves today,” Hoffman said. “There was a little bit of everything, but you can’t put the game in the hands of the officials. We had our opportunities.”
The game took an interesting turn even before the two teams took the field. Davidson fired coach Tripp Merritt on Monday and promoted longtime assistant Brett Hayford to interim head coach. Then, the officials flagged Davidson for an illegal block on the opening kickoff and then incorrectly spotted the ball.
With the Crusaders leading 14-7 midway through the second, lighting strikes filled the sky in Northwest Indiana, bringing on a 43-minute delay that changed the momentum of the game.
“I don’t think we acted as well as we should’ve (following the delay),” Carlson said. “We have to be able to get out there and get back to it.”
Hoffman led the Crusaders with 219 yards and a touchdown while Carkhuff threw for 395 yards for the Wildcats (2-8, 2-5). Valparaiso closes out its season next weekend at Morehead State.
“We have one more opportunity,” Hoffman said. “Our goal is to win November. We want to win a PFL title here one day and to do that, you have to be able to win in November. That is our goal now.”