Football: Bulldogs defense comes up big vs. Valparaiso
By Ryan Haskell Star correspondent October 1, 2013 12:56PM
Valparaiso's Bryce Crook (center) is taken down by a host of Crown Point defenders during the first quarter at Crown Point High School in Crown Point, Ind., Friday, September 27, 2013. | Guy Rhodes/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2013 3:34PM
CROWN POINT — The final score is deceiving.
Valparaiso had every chance to win its contest against Crown Point on Friday night and take back the County Seat trophy.
But the Bulldogs defense came up with the big play over and over and over again.
They were outright ridiculous defending the goal line, making huge plays when Valparaiso was in its red zone on three occasions, as Crown Point won the Duneland Athletic Conference matchup 26-3.
Right off the bat, Valparaiso looked like it was going to walk into the end zone following a Crown Point fumble on the game’s second play.
The Vikings (3-3, 2-2 DAC) went 47 yards on two plays, setting up first-and-goal at the 1-yard line early in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs defense came up big, forcing Valpariso to kick a 21-yard field goal after going backward on three plays.
That was the theme all night for the Crown Point (3-3, 1-3) defense.
But that’s the stop that turned the game’s momentum.
“Our defense has been solid for us all year long,” Bulldogs coach Kevin Enright said. “We have a lot of senior leadership and they take great pride out there. I think we executed better (than the past three weeks) and now we just have to build on it and improve every day.
“We lean on those guys and they’ve accepted the challenge, especially after the fumble.”
A Tristan Peterson 40-yard TD run on the next offensive drive put the Bulldogs ahead 7-3.
Then sophomore Artie Equihua had a huge block as Valparaiso attempted to punt from inside its 5-yard line on its next offensive series.
The ball went out of bounds for a safety, giving CP a 9-2 lead. The Bulldogs followed that up with another Peterson TD before halftime, giving the host a 16-3 halftime lead.
Senior captain Connor Andras said his team was hyped after its big stop on the goal line. His defense wound up allowing minus-7 rushing yards in the first half and 43 yards total through the game’s first 24 minutes.
“We had to buckle down more than ever (on the goal line in the first quarter),” he said. “I give credit to Valpo for bringing it to us. They played their hearts out but we are coming off three consecutive losses and it had to happen sometime. I think this is definitely going to be a confidence booster for us.”
The defense stopped two more touchdown drives in the second half as Dallas McRae recovered a Valparaiso fumble with 11:29 to go in the third quarter inside the red zone and Cody Hipp recovered one at the 8-yard line with 5:24 remaining in same quarter.
Troy Grady’s interception at the 46-yard line with 10:07 to go in the fourth quarter and Peterson’s 46-yard run on the very next play nailed down the win as CP went ahead 23-3.
Peterson, who had just one TD run all season, finished with 133 yards and three TDs for the game.