Davidson was as close as it has been to a Pioneer Football League victory in nearly three years here Saturday afternoon.
But the Wildcats (0-4, 0-2 PFL) couldn’t hang on to the lead in the last seven minutes and fell 42-35 to visiting Valparaiso (1-3, 1-1) in a back-and-forth battle of winless teams at rain-soaked Richardson Field.
Griffin Norberg caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Clarke with a minute and 55 seconds to play to lift the Crusaders, who had trailed 35-28 with 7:16 left after Davidson’s Taylor Mitchell’s tossed his third touchdown pass of the day, a 26-yarder to William Morris. But Jarrett Morgan returned the kickoff 89 yards for Valparaiso to tie the game again at 35-35.
Davidson held a 14-7 halftime lead, scoring on a 5-yard first-quarter touchdown by David Rogers and a 37-yard pass from Mitchell to Morris.
Three who mattered
William Morris, Davidson: The senior wide receiver caught eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Ryan Clarke, Valparaiso: Crusaders quarterback completed 18-of-32 passes for 244 yards and five touchdowns.
William Curran, Davidson: Senior defensive back intercepted two passes. The first stopped a Valparaiso drive in the red zone in the first half.
There were lots of bobbles of the ball in the wet weather, but only one lost fumble in the game. That was by Valpo at its own 20 on a punt return in the first quarter, and the recovery by Davidson’s Ryan Felice set up the Wildcats’ first touchdown.
▪ Morris, who had been limited to 12 catches for 128 yards in the first three games, now needs 102 yards to become the all-time Davidson leader in receiving yardage.
▪ Davidson hosts Division II Kentucky Wesleyan at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Richardson Field.
They said it
“This is a crazy game and four, five or six plays can make a difference. There might have been 14 points that we left on the table between some pass drops and some opportunities that we missed to make a big play. I’m proud of our guys. They’re frustrated but we just have to keep trying to get better.” — Davidson coach Paul Nichols.