Valpo Wins Hoosier Helmet, Sweeps Season Series with Rival Butler
For the first time in the history of the storied rivalry, the Valparaiso University football team has beaten Butler twice in the same season.
The Week 1 victory was a special way to kick off the spring slate, but the Victory Bell sounded even sweeter following Saturday’s 28-25 triumph in the Battle for the Hoosier Helmet at Brown Field. Valpo recovered a Butler onside kick in the closing minutes to put the finishing touches on the victory, and soon after the Hoosier Helmet trophy was back in Valpo hands. Robert Washington (Huntersville, N.C. / East Gaston [Old Dominion]) scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, to help lift the offense to its highest scoring output of the young season.
How It Happened
- Valpo played from behind early when the Bulldogs (0-3) scored the game’s first points on a 13-play, 84-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown hookup between Sam Brown and Johnny O’Shea. The PAT made it 7-0 with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
- A 43-yard pass from quarterback Chris Duncan (Woodland Hills, Calif. / Woodland Hills-Taft) to Charlie Maxwell (Elkhart, Ind. / Elkhart Christian Academy) helped the Brown & Gold move into Butler territory on the ensuing drive. Washington and Duncan both contributed big running plays before Gabe Lawson (Cranberry Township, Pa. / Seneca Valley) entered the game at quarterback and scored a 2-yard TD on a keeper to level the score at seven with 14:07 to go in the second quarter.
- The next scoring came with 3:36 left of second-quarter time as JJ Wadas sent a 23-yard field goal through the uprights to put the guests up 10-7, a score that would stand going into halftime.
- Butler received the second-half kickoff and put together an eight-play, 68-yard drive to build up a 17-7 advantage with 10:52 left in the third.
- Needing points desperately, a key play on Valpo’s next possession was a 35-yard run by Duncan. Valpo eventually settled for a 26-yard field goal attempt that kicker Brian Bartholomew (Sugar Grove, Ill. / Kaneland) sent through the uprights, however a crucial roughing the kicker penalty against Butler negated the field goal and gave Valpo first-and-goal at the 5. It took only one play from there for Washington to barrel into the endzone, cutting the Butler lead to 17-14 with 7:36 left in the third.
- The Bulldogs went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Valpo 23, and Jaxon Peifer (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) came up with an important sack to force the turnover on downs.
- That set up Valpo’s go-ahead scoring drive, a 14-play, 72-yard assault that saw Washington run it in from 9 yards out to make 21-17 Valpo with 10:49 to play.
- A fumbled snap was recovered by Trejuan Purty (Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville [East Tennessee State]) at the Butler 15, the first turnover forced by the Valpo defense. The offense didn’t quite cash in on the ensuing possession, but the defense quickly made another big play as Keyon Turner (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) snagged an interception and returned it 12 yards to the Butler 1 with 6:09 to play.
- Washington leaped into the endzone for his third score of the day, lifting the lead to 28-17 with 5:59 remaining.
- It wouldn’t be a Hoosier Helmet game if it didn’t feature late drama. Butler used a 16-play, 83-yard TD drive that lasted 4:28 to make it 28-25, setting up an onside kick with 1:31 remaining. Braden Contreras (Hillsdale, Ill. / Hinsdale Central) recovered the onside kick, allowing Valpo fans to exhale before entering a state of jubilation moments later when Valpo made the sport’s best play call – victory formation.
Inside the Game
- Valpo totaled 220 yards on the ground, its second time rushing for over 200 yards against the Bulldogs this season. This time Washington accounted for 120 while Duncan added 94. Washington provided three of the four touchdowns in the rivalry win.
- Lawson found pay dirt for the first time in his collegiate career with his 2-yard QB sneak.
- Turner has been involved in a turnover forced by the Valpo defense in each of his three collegiate games. After he recovered a fumble in Week 1, he has snagged interceptions each of the last two weeks.
- Peifer and Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davidson) accrued nine tackles each to lead the team with Peifer also notching a sack, one of the team’s six tackles for loss. DJ Hutcherson (Leesburg, Va. / Heritage [Howard]) and Kohlton Sherman (Millington, Mich. / Millington) contributed seven tackles apiece.
- Duncan went 7-of-13 through the air for 102 yards and one score. The 43-yard pass to Maxwell marked Valpo’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
- Diego Del Castillo (Murrieta, Calif. / Rancho Verde) had two catches for 34 yards, while Deuce Larose (Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / Cardinal Gibbins) had two for 15.
- Duncan reached the 4,000 passing yard milestone for his collegiate career, finishing the day with 4,013. He became just the eighth player in program history to cross that threshold. He is now three passing yards away from Ryan Doerffler (2004-2006, 4016) for seventh in program history. Duncan also passed his former teammate Jimmy Seewald (2016-2019) to garner a spot in the Top 5 in program history in career yards of total offense.
- Valpo has won four of the last five matchups with Butler, the first time it has done so since winning seven straight meetings from 1994-2000. Saturday marked the 80th meeting between the two teams and the first time ever the two squads have matched up twice in the same season.
- Valpo holds its best record through three games since 2007 and its best league record through three PFL contests since 2003.
Thoughts from Head Coach Landon Fox
Valpo (2-1) will attempt to avenge last week’s setback against Drake by visiting Des Moines, Iowa next week for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff. The game will be broadcast via Bulldog Vision and on the Valpo Sports Network (95.1 FM Valparaiso, TuneIn Radio app). Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.