Football dominates second half to down Valparaiso, 34-17

Sept. 30, 2006

Final Stats

VALPARAISO, Ind. - Playing without three starters on the offensive line, senior running back Jerry Brant rushed for a career-high 159 yards and the Dolphin defense made another second half shutout to lead the JU football team to a 34-17 win over Valparaiso, Saturday afternoon at Brown Field.

JU (2-2, 2-0) shut out an opponent in the second half for the second straight week and outscored the Crusaders 20-0 in the second frame. Valparaiso (2-3, 1-2), who has not won at home since 2004, managed only 101 yards of total offense in the second half. The Dolphins, who racked up 239 yards rushing, played without senior All-American tackle Pat Rich, junior center Rusty Stiglitz and sophomore tackle Michael Aguilar due to injuries.

"Our offensive line did an outstanding job of pulling together under some tough adversity this week," said JU head coach Steve Gilbert. "This team is a tight knit unit and the defense fed off of our early offensive success. The offensive line set the tone in this game and our defense shut down another opponent in the second half."

Brant led the Dolphin offense with two rushing touchdowns (53, one) and a 42-yard touchdown reception, to finish with 201 yards of total offense, including 112 yards rushing in the first half. For Brant, it marked the ninth 100-yard performance of his career and places him 51 yards behind Jon Underhill for third place on the all-time rushing list.

Junior quarterback Chris Horton connected on 5-of-16 passes for 106 yards but did major damage on the ground with 43 yards on five carries, including a 21-yard touchdown run. Junior receiver Michael Jenner led the corps with four catches for 64 yards. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Winston Ward finished with a career-high 14 tackles (11 solo) and freshman corner Roderick Clark registered his first career interception. Sophomore corner Robson Noel, who matched up with the nation's leading receiver Steve Ogden (128 yards per game), allowed only 90 yards on four catches, with all of it coming in the first half.

Freshman punter Joe Recktenwald had a career day as well by finishing with nine punts for 360 yards (40 yards per kick), including four punts inside the 20-yard line.

John Popper led the Valparaiso offense with 72 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown and quarterback Ryan Doerffler connected on 18-of-37 passes for 163 yards. Popper also collected six catches for 29 yards. Defensively, Seung Hwan Ro led the squad with six tackles (four solo).

Trailing 17-14 at the half, JU took advantage of a fumble by Valpo punt returner Kyle Himmelwright to lead 20-17 at the 10:30 mark of the third quarter when Brant scored from a yard out. Freshman kicker Donovan Curry had his extra-point attempted blocked. On the punt, Himmelwright miss handled a bounce which allowed freshman linebacker Sean Crowley to slide in and take the ball away and give the Dolphins possession at the Valpo 20-yard line.

The Dolphins increased the lead to 27-17 at the 3:40 mark of the third quarter when Horton took the option into the endzone from 21 yards out. Horton set up the play with a 14-yard scamper on third and 12 and also connected with Jenner with a 36-yard strike down the left sidelines.

JU made it 34-17 at the end of the third quarter when Horton connected with Brant on a 42-yard strike on a perfectly run play-action pass. Horton faked the hand off to Brant and rolled to his right looking deep down the right side. After a few steps, Horton threw back to the left where Brant was running free down the left sideline and scored without being touched.

In the first half, Valparaiso jumped out to an early 7-0 lead at the 10:29 mark of the first quarter when Popper rumbled for 15 yards on a sweep to the right side. The Crusaders were sparked by a huge third and three situation when Doerffler connected with Odgen for 34 yards.

JU evened the score, 7-7, at the 4:48 mark of the first quarter when sophomore fullback Jeremy Brown scored from a yard out. Brant set of the red zone offense when he scampered for 38 yards on second and 12.

After a huge defensive deflection by Noel on a third down bomb to Odgen, the Dolphins opened up a 14-7 lead with 1:07 left in the first quarter when Brant broke free for a season-high 53 yard touchdown run.

The Crusaders answered back with 9:12 left in the second quarter when Ross Wiemer rushed for a nine yard touchdown on a cutback to the left side. Valpo headed into the half with a 17-14 lead when Mike Krieg connected on a season-high 32-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining.

JU will conclude its season long four-game road trip on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. as the Dolphins continue Pioneer Football League play against Davidson at Richardson Stadium.