Valpo Football Opens Home Slate with Setback
Redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Bilinski (Nappanee, Ind. / Northwood) threw a pair of touchdown passes in his first career start and senior Drew Snouffer (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington) led his team in tackles for the third straight game, but the Valparaiso University football team fell 34-20 to Truman State on Saturday at Brown Field.
How It Happened
- On a key third-down play on Truman State’s first drive of the game, Jeremiah Olojo (Chicago, Ill. / Lane Tech) and Mike Wheeler (Fullerton, Calif. / La Habra) were in on a sack for a loss of four, forcing a 28-yard field goal attempt. That kick was good by Josh Scheiderer, giving the Bulldogs (1-3) an early 3-0 edge.
- Valpo (0-3) had a quick response, when Mason Sutter (Woodstock, Ill. / Woodstock) used his 6-foot-5 frame to outreach everyone for a 9-yard touchdown reception, the first TD toss of Bilinski’s career. The Sutter grab with 5:10 left in the first quarter capped a six-play, 75-yard drive. The biggest play of that drive was the first one, when Bilinski found Griffin Norberg (Sunrise, Fla. / Western) for 29 yards before Elias Earley (Land O’Lakes, Fla. / Carrollwood Day) tacked on an 18-yard rush.
- The Bulldogs inched to within a point late in the first quarter as Scheiderer nailed another field goal, this one from 38 yards out. Two big plays by Earley – a 20-yard reception and a 14-yard rush – had Valpo in business again, but the next pass resulted in an interception, allowing Truman State to take back over with six seconds left in the first quarter.
- Quarterback Jimmy Seewald (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child), last year’s starter who missed the first two games with an injury, made his 2018 debut early in the second quarter. He completed five of the six pass attempts on his first drive of the season, but Valpo eventually found itself with fourth-and-5 at the Truman State 41. That led to a trick play that worked to perfection as Seewald performed a quick kick and punted the ball, which was downed at the Truman State 1-yard line.
- Neither team gained much offensive momentum for the remainder of the first half. Valpo went into halftime holding a 7-6 lead.
- The second play of the second half gave Truman State its first edge of the day as quarterback Jaden Barr found Mitch Nicholas for a 75-yard TD. The two-point play made it 14-7 with 14:05 left in the third quarter.
- On the next Truman State possession, the Valpo defense came up with a big hold after facing first-and-goal from the 1. Three straight stops, with Nick Turner in on two of the tackles, forced the Bulldogs to settle for an 18-yard field goal, which extended the lead to 10.
- The defense shined again a possession later, as a Truman State threat was extinguished by a Josmar Diaz-Martinez (Miramar, Fla. / Miramar) interception. The Valpo senior made a 23-yard return to the Valpo 35. That momentum kept going on the next play, a 41-yard Bilinski pass completion to Jean Rene (Delray Beach, Fla. / Wellington Community). The drive culminated with a 39-yard Dimitrios Latsonas (Westmont, Ill. / Westmont) field goal to make it 17-10.
- After a run-heavy drive led to a Truman State field goal, a Kyle Cartales (Loxahatchee, Fla. / Cardinal Newman) 40-yard catch from Seewald helped set up a 35-yard Latsonas field goal to make it 20-13.
- A kickoff return for a touchdown and 13-yard Barr TD rush made it 34-13 by the late stages of the fourth quarter. Bilinski threw his second TD pass of the day, this one a 15-yarder to Cartales with 1:54 remaining to account for the final points of the game.
Inside the Game
- Bilinski went 15-of-22 passing for 209 yards while throwing the first two TD passes of his career. Cartales led the way in rushing yards with 75 on five receptions, while Norberg had a team-high eight catches for 67 yards.
- Diaz-Martinez notched the 10th interception of his career, becoming the first Valpo player since at least 2005 to make 10 career picks. It was his first interception of the season.
- Latsonas made his first two field goals of the season on Saturday, both from 35 yards or longer. It was the fourth time in his career he had multiple field-goal makes in a game.
- Snouffer’s 15 tackles marked his season high as he led the team in that area for the third straight game. The senior captain turned in 11 tackles in each of the first two weeks. Turner had his best showing of the season, adding 11 tackles on Saturday.
- Cartales hauled in his first receiving score of the season and the fourth of his career, while Sutter also had his fourth career TD grab and his first of the season.
- Valpo had the better passing attack on Saturday, passing for 283 yards to Truman State’s 122. The Valpo defense limited the Bulldogs to just 5-of-17 through the air, while Seewald and Bilinski combined to go 24-of-40.
- Yards of total offense was tight, with Truman State edging Valpo 387-371.
Pioneer Football League play begins next week when Davidson comes to town for Homecoming at Brown Field. The kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN3 with live audio and stats also available. Valpo will look to extend its PFL home winning streak to six after going undefeated in home league games last season.