College football: St. Joseph’s edges Valparaiso in shootout
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent August 30, 2012 11:49PM
Crusader linebacker Patrick Derbak, right, celebrates after sacking St. Joseph's quarterback Billy VandeMerkt during the second quarter of their game at Valparaiso University Thursday Aug. 30, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
VALPARAISO — By halftime, it was evident that the last team that scored between Valparaiso University and St. Joseph’s College was going to win the game. And it was St. Joseph’s that did, scoring with just 24 seconds remaining in the game to earn a 36-34 win in the season opener.
“I think they’re kind of shocked right now,” VU head coach Dale Carlson said of his team. “We’ll find out what they’re thinking as we go into next week. You have to finish games; it’s not just enough to be competitive.”
With VU leading 34-30 late in the fourth quarter, Crusaders punter Greg Wood pinned the Pumas at their own 7-yard line with 3:01 left. But St. Joseph’s marched 93 yards in 12 plays for the game-winning score. Cameron Crabtree delivered the final dagger to VU, rushing into the end zone from 6 yards out on second-and-goal.
On the game’s previous possession, VU did have a chance to end the game, as the offense drove into St. Joseph’s territory before the drive stalled, forcing Wood’s punt.
Said Carlson: “I think that was a big key, when we were unable to run out the clock. That’s a drill called the 4-minute offense that we’ve been working on. We had some pretty good field possession there. Letting them go the length of the field is inexcusable, too. We didn’t execute in those key situations.”
Tied at 20 to begin the second half, VU took a 26-20 lead on a brilliant defensive play. VU’s Devan Gadson appeared to rip the ball clean from the hands of Crabtree, then raced 36 yards for a touchdown. Later in the third, Braxton Shelton’s 61-yard touchdown reception and the ensuing extra point put the Pumas back in front 27-26.
The third period ended with VU ahead 34-27, however, thanks to a Gabe Ali-El 5-yard TD run and a successful two-point conversion.
St. Joseph’s cut the lead to 34-30 when Gavin Voss — a Wheeler graduate — drilled a 39-yard field goal in the middle of the fourth quarter.
After that final score, the Crusaders appeared to have a glimmer of hope when Andrew Cassara returned St. Joseph’s kickoff to the 43-yard line with 16 seconds and two VU timeouts remaining. But a pair of incomplete passes took the remaining time off of the clock.