VALPARAISO | The drive wasn’t flashy, nor was it particularly exciting, but it was exactly what the Valparaiso football team needed on Friday night.
The Vikings started the second half with a 16-play, 66-yard drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock and in the process, broke the spirit of Times No. 10 Michigan City.
David Hittinger capped off the drive with a five-yard scoring strike to Michael Rastovic and that was the offense the Vikings would need for the rest of the night as Valparaiso held on to a 17-7 win over the Wolves.
“I’ve got to give a kudos to (offensive coordinator) Sam Bernardi and his staff for making the right adjustments at halftime and taking control,” Valparaiso coach Dave Coyle said. “We decided that we were going to run the ball and we made it work.”
DaCota Overland ran the ball on 12 of the 16 plays and finished with 83 rushing yards and a touchdown in the first half. Fellow sophomore Bryce Crook broke 100 yards for the first time in his career and finished the night with 104 yards on 14 carries.
“We’re not thinking they’re sophomores anymore,” Coyle said. “These are the guys we’re going with.”
Coyle proved jut how much faith he had in his young running backs early in the contest when he called Overland’s number on fourth down inside the Michigan City 10-yard line. Overland ran a stretch play to the left side where he turned up the field and scored on a 7-yard run.
“This goes two ways,” Coyle said. “Our guys like having the responsibility to make plays, but then they need to go out and do it. It was my call (to run on fourth down). I felt that momentum was on our side and I felt that our offensive line was playing very well.”
While the offense grinded out yards in small doses, the Valparaiso defense came to play, effectively shutting down Michigan City star quarterback Ryan Washington. The senior completed just 7-of-25 passes for 61 yards and was limited to under 50 rushing yards. Valparaiso senior linebacker Michael Krutz recovered a fumble and picked off Washington late in the game.
“We had a lot of respect for Washington and he really is a great player,” Krutz said. “We came together as a team and we made the stops we needed to. It feels great to be able to finish off a game.”
The Wolves (2-2, 0-2 DAC) were bottled up for much of the game and didn’t get their offense truly clicking until the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Vikings (2-2, 2-0) spent a good portion of the first half in the Michigan City backfield, regularly tacking the Wolves for a loss or forcing an errant throw.
“We did our best to try and simulate (Washington) in practice and honestly we came away not sure what we’d be able to do,” Coyle said. “Friday night we’re happy, but tomorrow we go right back to work.”