CHESTERTON | After pounding away at Chesterton with its running attack most of the game, Valpo slipped in a pass, and a big one at that, to pull out a 21-14 Duneland Athletic Conference victory Friday.
David Hittinger, who rushed for 88 yards and a pair of touchdown sneaks, hit a wide-open Jack Andrie for a 50-yard score with 6:51 left to break a 14-14 tie.
"We saw an opportunity with the safety coming up hard," said Hittinger, who had only thrown for 43 yards to that point. "We knew with him scooting in, we could get behind him and get a touchdown. Jack made a great catch. He's a heck of a player."
Valpo coach Dave Coyle didn't even see the play, working with the defense on the sideline when it happened.
"I'd love to take credit for it, but it was all (offensive coordinator) Sam Bernardi," Coyle said. "Kudos to our entire offensive staff. We're playing guys on the line with zero experience and some young running backs. David's a true leader. He took control. I'm not making us out to be heroes, but I'm pretty darn proud of our kids."
Chesterton (3-2, 2-1) drove to the Valpo 25 in a bid to get even again before Drake Barton stepped in front of a Cole Teal pass intended for Alex Katsafaros. The Trojans got the ball back with 1:05 left, but turned the ball over on downs.
"What's so dangerous about (Teal) is how he eludes the rush and his receivers do a great job of finding openings," Coyle said. "They've burned a lot of different defenses. We had to make sure we stayed with the routes and didn't give up on the play too fast."
The Trojans rushed for 288 yards, but couldn't convert it into points. They also fumbled inside the Vikings 5 just before the half, looking to break a 7-7 tie.
"We've had a tendency to put points on the board down there in weeks past and we came out empty," Chesterton coach Mark Peterson said. "We just didn't put it in the end zone enough times. Credit to Valpo, but we felt like we let one slip away there. We've got to finish a game like that."
Chesterton took a 14-7 lead in the third on Teal's 29-yard keeper, but Valpo, featuring Hittinger and sophomore DaCota Overland (98 yards), answered with to tie it with 9:09 left.
The game winner came on the first play after a short Chesterton punt set up the Vikings (3-2, 3-0) at midfield.
"Our whole line was executing well," Hittinger said. "It didn't matter who was running. There were always holes."
The DAC start is Valpo's best since 2010.
"This is a huge win for us," Coyle said. "We had to learn how to win a game like this, to believe in the system and take that step. It's got to be an attitude."