Traditional scoring opportunities slipped away for Valparaiso University in their home opener. They allowed Dartmouth to run away with a 28-18 victory.
For two and a half quarters, the Beacons’ scoring chances were found to be in the red zone, but the team had to scrap for safeties and field goals in order to earn points.
“I think from my perspective, it’s just disappointing because we didn’t play the best football that we could play,” Head coach Landon Fox said.
Then Darmouth fumbled at the 27 yard line. Sophomore linebacker Evan Annis was able to force a fumble, allowing senior defensive lineman Nathan Orlandini to secure the ball with three and a half minutes left in the third quarter.
Valpo’s first touchdown came from junior quarterback Teryn Berry on a 14 yard pass to senior receiver Ollie Reese to cut the deficit to 21-16.
After scoring, Valpo made the decision to go for two points. Senior halfback Robert Washington ran outside the pocket and made a bobbled jump pass to senior tight end Connor Hebbeler to cut Dartmouth’s lead to three.
“I am not going to lie to you, I messed it up,” Washington said. “It was a great catch by him. I threw it into triple coverage, but it was a great catch by him.”
The opportunity to tie the game with a field goal slipped away from the Beacons when Berry was picked off on the 25 yard line by the Dartmouth secondary.
Dartmouth’s offensive core sealed the deal with their fourth touchdown of the game to give Valpo’s third loss of their non-conference season.
It was Valpo’s first game against an Ivy League team since Valpo lost against Yale in 1999.
“They’re coming out, they got game plans for us,” Washington said. “We have to execute better.”
The path to getting ten points came in a combination of two safeties and two field goals. The last time Valpo scored a safety in a game was against Wisconsin Lutheran during the 2006 season.
The first safety came from a sack by junior linebacker Trey Psota during the first quarter. Dartmouth’s quarterback was pressured back and was brought down for 11 yards to start the game 2-0.
Senior kicker Brian Bartholomew helped extend the lead to five, chipping in a 29 yard field goal.
Bartholomew followed up with a second field goal in the second quarter, the eighth of his collegiate career.
The next Beacon safety was brought about by a bad snap in the third quarter. Dartmouth was in punting formation as the snap sailed over their punter and landed out of the field of play.
Fox commented that much of his frustration on the loss was focused around the team not playing their best game of football.
“We didn’t have the execution we needed to be successful,” Fox said.“That is the most frustrating thing.”
What Fox believed was a factor, however, was the energy coming from the students and fans that attended the game.
“You can say what you want, that was a factor in the game for us,” Fox said. “We appreciate it, and we ask for that continued support because that was awesome.”
Senior defensive lineman Austin Martins believed the same, and felt energy from the 3,856 fans during even the smallest of moments.
“That was by far the best crowd,” Martins said. “Whenever you get a turnover and that crowd is going crazy, it is a huge plus for us.”
This game against the Beacons was the Ivy League team’s first game of the 2021 season.