INDIANAPOLIS – Valparaiso’s Justin Clark connected with Rocco Micciche for an 11-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left to lift the Vikings to the 5A state football championship over Whiteland, 35-31 at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday.
The touchdown was Micciche’s only catch of the night as Valparaiso won its first football title since 1975. The Warriors were looking for their first state championship in any sport in school history.
Whiteland jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Maalik Perkins returned the opening kickoff 98 yards to give the Warriors an early 7-0 lead. David Mathis then tacked on a 36-yard field goal.
The Vikings responded with two Justin Clark touchdown runs in the second quarter to go ahead 14-10, one from 12-yards out and one from 13-yards.
The last 2:15 of the first half saw three touchdowns. Slate Valentine scored from six-yards to put Whiteland back on top 17-14.
Valparaiso answered with a Clark to Julian Stokes 60-yard touchdown before Kevin Denham found Gunnar Hicks for a 34-yard TD with 18 seconds in the half to send the Warriors into the locker room with a 24-21 advantage.
The Vikings scored the only points of the third quarter to retake the lead on Clark’s third rushing touchdown of the game.
Denham tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jakarrey Oliver to give Whiteland a 31-28 lead with five minutes to go in the game, but the Warriors’ defense couldn’t hold the lead.
The three-point final margin was the closest of any of the six state title games this weekend.