VALPARAISO | It had been a long time since Crown Point's Tyler Smith lined up as a running back. You have to go back to his Pop Warner or middle school days.
But the speedy senior started at tailback Friday night against Valparaiso, and he looked right at home.
Smith rushed 23 times for 191 yards with two touchdowns, and also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score as the Times No. 6 Bulldogs beat No. 10 Valparaiso 28-21 in a Duneland Athletic Conference showdown.
Crown Point coach Kevin Enright said he had all the confidence in Smith, who normally plays receiver but stepped in for junior Tristan Peterson. Enright would not comment on why Peterson didn't play.
"The coach asked me to step up," Smith said. "I didn't have to do too much, because my line made holes all night."
The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-2 DAC) dominated the line of scrimmage all night, outgaining Valpo 343-203 in total offense.
"Tyler Smith is on the field for us on both sides of the ball," Enright said. "We asked him to get in the backfield for us, and he accepted his role. He's just a tremendous athlete."
The story of the game was turnovers. It started that way, and it ended that way.
On the first play from scrimmage, C.P. quarterback Jake Jatis was intercepted by Valpo linebacker Alec Judy who returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.
Caleb Dawson's extra point gave Valpo a 7-0 lead, but the 'Dogs methodically worked down the field on their next possession. They put together a 16-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, with sophomore Luke Polus finishing it off from two yards out before Zach Sneiderwine missed the extra point.
The Vikings (2-4, 2-2) maintained the 7-6 lead until midway through the third quarter, when Smith started asserting himself.
He scored his first touchdown from scrimmage from 34 yards out to give the 'Dogs a 13-7 lead.
Behind the running of Andrew Kittridge and Stephen Simms, Valpo came back to take a brief 14-13 lead on a Kittridge 1-yard TD early in what would be a back-and-forth final period.
Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and 6-foot-5 Braxton Rice hauled in a two-point conversion pass from Jatis for a 21-14 advantage.
Valpo tied it, following a 59-yard kickoff return by Simms that put the Vikings in business at the C.P. 36-yard line. Simms finished off a short drive with a 13-yard touchdown to tie it at 21-21.
Smith then added a 44-yard touchdown with 5:20 remaining that turned out to be the game-winner when Valpo quarterback David Hittinger mishandled a snap. C.P. linebacker Connor Andras recovered the fumble with 3:25 to play, and the 'Dogs ran out the clock.
"This is big because we got that County Seat trophy for the first time in six years," Smith said.
"Our guys put on a tremendous show," Enright said.
Valpo coach Dave Coyle was pleased with the effort, but not the mistakes.
"The difference in the ballgame was mistakes and turnovers," Coyle said. "It's unfortunate and frustrating, but it's part of the game. And we can't make mistakes in special teams."