Freshman quarterback Austin Gahafer completed 41-of-52 attempts for a career-high 458 yards, and the Morehead State football team scored 23 unanswered points in the second half to post a 42-28 victory over Pioneer Football League foe Valparaiso on Saturday afternoon (October 19) at Brown Field.
The Eagles, 3-4 overall and 3-1 in conference action, have now won three straight PFL contests for the first time since 2007. MSU also improves to 16-3 in the all-time series with its seventh straight win over Valpo. The Crusaders slip to 1-6 on the season and 1-3 in league play with their third consecutive setback.
"I'm excited for our coaching staff and student-athletes," Head Coach Rob Tenyer said. "Our young men battled through a rough start to the year and now we have some momentum. These Pioneer Football League games are the ones that really count, and it's great to win three straight."
Gahafer was just one passing yard from tying the 84-year-old school record and three completions shy of equaling the institution standard. He recorded completions to 10 different Eagles and connected on three touchdown passes for the second consecutive game.
Morehead State ran a season-best 89 offensive plays en route to season highs in passing yards (458) and total yards (627). The Eagles have now scored 132 points over their past three contests (44.0 ppg) after scoring just 66 in their first four games (16.5 ppg) of 2013.
Valparaiso turned a pair of early turnovers into scores and led 14-0 just nine minutes into the contest, but Morehead State registered 42 of the game's final 56 points to notch the road win. The Eagles went on a 23-0 run in the second half after trailing 28-19 at intermission.
"We played a great second half today against an improved football team," Tenyer said. "We had a few things go against us in the first half, but our young men kept following the script. We had more energy and focus in the second half, which helped us get this big road win."
Freshman slot receiver Jake Raymond posted career highs and MSU season bests for catches (12) and receiving yards (133). Junior wide receiver Kitaro Lewis added eight catches for 90 yards, while freshman Brandon Reeves rolled up 73 rushing yards on just four attempts.
Senior defensive back John Coleman led the Eagle defense by recording a career-best 12 tackles. Junior defensive back Michael Jackson contributed his fifth career interception in the third quarter when Valparaiso tried to go ahead on a pass to the back of the end zone.
Junior quarterback Eric Hoffman led Valparaiso by going 29-of-48 for 326 yards and three touchdowns. His top target, junior Andrew Cassara, pulled in 12 catches for 135 yards. Freshman Denzell Conway was Valpo's top running back with 67 yards on 15 carries.
Senior linebacker Patrick Derbak tallied a game-high 14 tackles to lead three Crusaders with double-figure stops. Valparaiso's three interceptions on defense all came by different players.
The Eagles return to Jayne Stadium on Saturday (October 26) for their annual Homecoming game against PFL opponent Dayton at 1 p.m.
The teams combined for 1,071 total yards and 70 points, just one year after coming together for 1,145 total yards and 100 points in a 76-24 Morehead State win at Jayne Stadium.
Morehead State overcame four turnovers. The Crusaders incepted Gahafer three times and stripped freshman wide receiver Mason Rutherford after a pass reception in the first half.