CROWN POINT | Old-timers call it the single wing. Youngsters call it the wildcat.
Whatever you prefer, Valparaiso went to its old bread-and-butter offense in the second half Friday night at Crown Point, trying to salvage its season in a Class 5A Sectional 1 match-up.
But the Bulldogs came up with two huge stops on fourth down plays in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 23-15 victory.
Trailing 20-0 at the half, Valpo coach Dave Coyle decided to ride his horses in the third quarter. That meant getting the ball in the hands of senior running backs Andrew Kittridge and Stephen Simms in Valpo's old single-wing offense that dates back to the 1960s under Hall of Fame coach Tom Stokes.
"That's something we haven't seen from them this year," C.P. coach Kevin Enright said. "They have two of the best runners in the area in the backfield, and it creates a number advantages."
The second time the Vikings (3-7) had the ball, Simms cruised 57 yards for a score around the left end. Later, Kittridge rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, getting a key block from quarterback David Hittinger at the C.P. 20-yard line.
Simms ran in the two-point conversion, and suddenly the Vikings were within one score with plenty of time on the clock.
"Once we got our feet underneath us, it started to come together," Coyle said. "It's unfortunate that time ran out."
Valpo had two final fourth-quarter possessions with an opportunity to tie, but the Bulldogs' defense came through in the clutch.
With 3:29 remaining, C.P. stopped Simms one yard shy of a first down at the 24-yard line. It was fourth-and-4, and Simms only picked up three.
In the final 20 seconds and with the clock ticking away, Hittinger was intercepted on a fourth-and-five play by junior linebacker Connor Andras.
"We're a running team, not a passing team, and we didn't want to be in that position," Coyle said. "You can't just point to that play because we didn't do things in the first half to win the ballgame."
That's when the Bulldogs (7-3) dominated, with quarterback Jake Jatis directing the show and running back Tristan Peterson chewing up yards.
C.P. opened with a 13-play drive capped by a 31-yard field goal by Zach Sneiderwine. It would be the first of three field goals on the night by Sneiderwine, the others coming from 21 and 30 yards.
Peterson, who was serving a suspension when the Bulldogs beat Valpo 28-21 in September, finished with 129 yards on 26 carries. He scored on a 23-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter and had what would have been a 59-yard TD called back near the end of the half by a holding call.
Tyler Smith scored the first touchdown of the game for C.P. on a five-yard run with 4:03 left in the first quarter for a 10-0 lead. Sneiderwine's 21-yard score with 58.3 seconds remaining in the half gave the Bulldogs to 20-0 advantage.
C.P. finished with 305 yards of offense, with 232 coming in the first half. Jatis threw for 120 yards, with Zach Plesac (four catches, 63 yards) being his No. 1 target.
"We're fortunate we've got players at some spots who have proven they can make plays at crucial times," Enright said.