Duquesne squashes early upset bid by Valparaiso
By John Mutka Post-Tribune senior correspondent September 15, 2012 8:22PM
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:51AM
VALPARAISO — Up 10 points five minutes into the second quarter, winless Valparaiso was thinking upset.
Alas, it was not to be.
Duquesne tailback Larry McCoy explored more productive ideas Saturday at Brown Field. He exploded for 178 yards and three touchdowns to inspire a 45-17 win.
Moving closer to becoming the Dukes’ all-time leading rusher, he chalked up his 21st 100-yard rushing game and crept to within one yard of Pedro Bowman (3,830 yards), who ranks No. 2 on the program’s career list.
It was All-America safety Serge Kona, who wrecked VU’s momentum. His two interceptions reversed the trend and triggered a late-blooming rout.
Early in the second period Kona picked off a pass inside Duquesne’s 40 and returned it to VU’s 44. Lefty quarterback Sean Patterson capitalized with a 40-yard pass to Gianni Carter, who made a full-extended diving catch. Two plays later Carter scored on a 3-yard pass and the Dukes never looked back.
Until then, VU’s Eric Hoffman seemed headed for career-best numbers. He clicked on 13 of his first 17 passes for 163 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown to tight end Mike Gerton. When Duquesne cracked down he completed only nine of his next 21 for a modest 61 yards.
“They made some changes and we couldn’t adapt,” said Hoffman. “They brought a lot more pressure and played man defense.
“We were a better team the first quarter. We can compete. We’ve made great strides. We’re a lot better than last year.”
Maybe so, but the Crusaders are now 0-3 and facing a trip to San Diego, where the Pioneer League preseason favorite awaits.
Valparaiso drove 53 yards on its opening possession, all but three coming on passes to Andrew Cassara, Cole Anderson and Gerton.
The Crusaders settled for Mike Pando’s 36-yard field goal, then answered Duquesne’s 75-yard scoring drive with a 77-yard thrust, going ahead on Hoffman’s 1-yard plunge. When Aaron Brandt recovered a fumble on Duquesne’s 36, the opportunistic Crusaders struck barely a minute later, cashing in on Hoffman’s first touchdown pass of the season.
Launched by Kona’s first interception, Duquesne scored twice in the last 9:48 of the half to go ahead 21-17.
“That was definitely a momentum deal there,” conceded Coach Dale Carlson, “but we fought defensively, held them to a field goal (in the third quarter) and got a turnover in the second half. We had plenty of opportunities.”
Late in the third quarter strong safety Alex Grask made a diving interception of a tipped pass with VU trailing 31-17. Duquesne retaliated with inside backer Horvin Latimer’s deflected pick. That was the last gasp for VU, which was outscored 24-0 after the intermission.
“We’ve got to play 60 minutes, can’t play 17 on offense and 20 on defense,” Carlson said.
Penalties disrupted VU’s game plan. Flags rained down on them nine times for 86 yards.
“We were very undisciplined,” said Carlson. “That’s why the score ended up the way it did.”