MOREHEAD, Ky. - In front of a season-best homecoming crowd of 8,145, the Morehead State football team survived a late charge from Pioneer Football League opponent Valparaiso and scored a 31-24 victory on Saturday afternoon at Jayne Stadium.
The victory improves Morehead State to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in PFL play.
After allowing the Crusaders to pull the game within a score and recover an onside kick with 1:15 remaining, senior safety Sayyid Kanu came through clutch for the Eagles' defense by picking off a pass from Valparaiso quarterback Jimmy Seewald and returning it 66 yards.
Kanu recorded a team-high nine tackles.
"We made it interesting again, but I am really proud of our team for finishing again," said head coach Rob Tenyer. "Sayyid had a really great game last week (at Davidson) and he had a busy week being on the Homecoming court. He had another solid effort today."
The Morehead State offense went to the victory formation and ran off the final :53 seconds to hold on for the win.
Offensively, career days receiving for the duo of redshirt senior Jarin Higginbotham and sophomore Sugar Ray Wyche Jr. powered the Eagles. Higginbotham collected eight passes for 140 yards and a score while Wyche hauled in seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Senior quarterback Lawson Page accounted for all four Morehead State touchdowns, going for two on the ground and two through the air. Page racked up 424 combined yards - using his wheels for 68 and arm for 352.
The Eagles and Crusaders played to a scoreless tie through the opening quarter before Page and Wyche hooked up for a 23-yard score on the first play of the second quarter.
Page used his legs for two more scores in the quarter, punching the ball across the goal line from six and four yards out.
Valparaiso's only score of the half came off a 40-yard interception return by Drew Snouffer.
The Morehead State defense held the Crusaders to just 104 first half yards.
"Really proud of our defense in the first half," said head coach Rob Tenyer. "It was definitely the best defensive half all season.I thought we got a little complacent in the fourth quarter or we could have held them to less than 200 total yards for the entire game."
The Eagles opened the third quarter by driving the ball for 12 plays and 65 yards, that was capped off by Page connecting with Higginbotham for a 19-yard score to open their lead to 21 points.
In the fourth quarter the Valpo offense began to find its footing. Running back Parker Fox scored on a two-yard rush with 13:34 remaining.
Morehead State answered with a 35-yard field goal from sophomore Andrew Foster before a 93-yard kickoff return touchdown by Bailey Gessinger led to 14-consecutive Crusaders points before Kanu made the game-clinching pick.
Valpo drops to 1-6 for the season and 1-3 in conference.
The Eagles return to action next Saturday at Jayne Stadium against Marist. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.