VALPARAISO | With their first win of the season coming down to one yard, the Valparaiso defense rose to the occasion Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders put together a goal line stand to stop Campbell and win a wild 49-42 game in overtime in the Pioneer Football League opener for both teams.
Jonathan “Bama” Powell plugged the gap on the final play and Pat Derbak and John Guilford combined to stuff Campbell quarterback Brian Hudson one yard short of the end zone on fourth down, setting off a wild celebration at Brown Field.
“This was great getting this win and it’s just an amazing feeling,” Powell said. “I hope it doesn’t stop.”
Valparaiso quarterback Eric Hoffman threw his fourth touchdown of the day, an 11-yard strike to Andrew Cassara, to give the Crusaders a lead on their second play of overtime. Hoffman threw for 407 yards, his second straight game topping the 400-yard mark.
“We stayed poised throughout the game,” Hoffman said. “We knew that we could score on this team when we wanted to. It was great to get this first win, but we’ve got more to go.”
Fred Gladney led the Crusaders with 10 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns while Cassara added nine catches for 88 yards and a score. Tanner Kuramata had seven catches for 117 yards and a late fourth quarter touchdown. The sophomore added a two-point conversion.
“Those three guys have really shown a lot of maturity and they’ve grown together,” Carlson said. “Maybe we played them before they were ready, but you can see them coming along.”
Brown Field was packed Saturday afternoon for homecoming festivities as the 2003 Valparaiso football team was honored for winning the PFL title. Former members of the team littered the sidelines throughout the game and were amongst the loudest supporters during the goal line stand.
“There has been a lot of energy on the sidelines for our last few games and we can feel that,” Hoffman said. “It was great to have those guys back here to share in this.”
The win was Valparaiso’s first homecoming victory since a 35-29 overtime victory over Davidson on Oct. 11, 2008 and first win in a PFL opener since beating Morehead State 42-35 on Sept. 16, 2006.
“We told the guys that we had a clean slate coming into the game,” Carlson said. “Now we’re 1-0 and we have the opportunity to go on the road and compete next week for another win.”