Torero Football dominates Valparaiso
By Hunter Jameson
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
The Torero football team traveled to Valparaiso, IN to take on the Valparaiso University Crusaders in a crucial Pioneer Football League matchup. With a win, the Toreros would stay tied for the lead with just two games remaining. USD came in with a record of 4-1 in conference and 6-3 overall. The Crusaders had a record of 1-4 in conference and 1-8 overall. The records enough could depict how this game played out, as the Toreros had control of the game from start to finish.
The Toreros scored first, capping off a 69-yard drive on a one-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Lawrence Larivee. On their next possession just minutes later, senior running back Kenn James scored on a 17-yard touchdown run, making the score 14-0 in favor of the Toreros.
The next two points were produced by the Torero defense when junior DeAngelo Barksdale blocked the punt that was recovered in the end zone by the Crusaders, resulting in a safety. The Toreros received the ball due to the rules of a safety and wasted no time. Senior quarterback Mason Mills connected with junior wide receiver Brandon White twice on the drive, but the touchdown coming on a 3-yard pass, his first of the day. This made the score 23-0 in favor of the Toreros midway through the second quarter.
The Crusaders were finally able to get on the board just before halftime by driving 80 yards, culminating with a 15-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ken Hoffman to junior wide receiver Tanner Kuramata. At the half, the score was 23-7 Toreros.
In its first drive of the second half, USD scored to make the score 30-7. Mills hit senior Sam Hoekstra on a nine-yard touchdown, his second touchdown pass of the day. In their next possession, Mills tallied his third touchdown pass to senior running back Joe Ferguson from 16-yards out. At 37-7, the Toreros had a very comfortable lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders provided their fans with some excitement early in the fourth on an 86-yard touchdown pass from Hoffman to senior wide receiver Tony Taibi. The Toreros got the ball back and Mills finished off the day with another touchdown to White, their second touchdown connection of the day. Mills was taken out of the game with a commanding 44-14 lead, and the backups were able to get playing time.
Redshirt junior quarterback Kyle Miller came in and went 3-3 for 32 yards and a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Robbie Beyer. A couple of young Torero players also made an impact late in the game. Sophomore linebacker Nic Henson caught an interception and returned it 23-yards, setting up fellow sophomore running back Bug Rivera’s five-yard touchdown run. The final score was 58-14 and with the victory the Toreros improve to 5-1 in PFL play and 7-3 overall. Valparaiso is now 1-5 in league and 1-8 overall.
The offensive attack was extremely well balanced in both the passing and running games. Mills finished a productive 19-32 for 230 yards and four touchdowns. Senior running back duo Kenn James and Joe Ferguson both rushed for over 100 yards. James finished with 16 carries for 118 yards with one touchdown. Ferguson had 15 carries for 125 yards and one receiving touchdown. Receivers Hoekstra and White both had impressive games too. Hoekstra had four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown, while White had two touchdowns in three receptions.
Junior safety Matt Miller led the defense with 12 tackles. Junior linebacker Una Hamala also contributed with eight tackles.
With this win, the Toreros are still tied with Butler and Marist for the PFL lead, but Dayton was knocked out of a tie for the lead with a loss on Saturday. If the Toreros win their remaining two games, they are guaranteed a playoff spot. They play at Morehead State in Morehead, KY on Nov. 9.