Reaching into its bag of tricks at the end of the first half, the University of Dayton football team won its second Pioneer Football League game of the season in a 41-27 victory over Morehead State University on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Welcome Stadium.
Leading 17-13 with just seconds remaining in the first half, Dayton (3-4, 2-2 PFL) called for a hook-and-lateral, scoring a touchdown as time expired.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Bardo sent a nine-yard pass to his left toward redshirt freshman wide receiver Ross Smith. Smith, who was covered by two defenders, proceeded to pitch the ball back to senior running back Robert Washington, who ran untouched the last 30 yards.
“You’ll have to ask [offensive coordinator Chris Ochs], you really would,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “I was watching the clock … and I was hoping to get into position to call timeout. On the reception, I was going to call timeout, and then I saw him toss it.”
Bardo said the play was executed to perfection.
“We’ve been practicing it, and it hasn’t really worked,” he said. “That looked good, didn’t it? Timed up perfectly.”
MSU (1-5, 0-3 PFL) used its up-tempo offense to move the ball down the field in the first quarter, taking a 13-10 lead. It was the fifth time in six games that the Eagles have lead after the first quarter of play.
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Pat Dowd said the team knew MSU would come out firing and came out with some different looks than what was seen on film, but adjustments were made quickly.
Dayton would struggle on offense into the second quarter. After having a punt blocked in its own half of the field, its defense changed the game’s momentum though, starting with an interception by senior linebacker Colin Monnier two plays following the block.
“I think we disguised our coverage a little bit and we had a blitz coming from the weak side and [the line] hurried him a bit and [Monnier] was in great position and he made a play on the ball,” Dowd said.
The offense would go on to score on its next five possessions, including the hook-and-lateral, tallying 24 unanswered points in the second, third and fourth quarters to take the lead for good.
“Every Morehead game, there’s never any dominance one way or the other,” Chamberlin said. “It’s always a back-and-forth affair.”
Dayton’s 532 yards of offense were the most in just over five years, dating back to a 559-yard game on Oct. 4, 2008 game against Campbell University.
Bardo played all but two series under center for Dayton, throwing three touchdowns, which doubled his season output to date. He was 15-of-23 passing for 214 yards.
Redshirt freshman running back Connor Kacsor had his second-consecutive 100-yard rushing performance.
MSU senior quarterback Zach Lewis, who entered the game as the PFL’s career leader in completions thrown, finished 34-of-50 passing for 311 yards and had three touchdowns to go with two interceptions.
Bardo said the team has been doing the same things all season, thus far, but some better execution on the little things finally helped get things to “click” for them.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of success like we did today all year,” Bardo said. “To have that at the time that it came, it’s a good time for us to get some momentum going.”
Dowd said it was important the offense came out strong at the start because of the way MSU had another fast start just like the team had done for most of this season.
“Incredible game by the offense,” Dowd said. “They’ve been struggling this year; it’s really no secret. For them to come out today against a solid defense and go up against two of the top linebackers in the league and put up a performance like that, it was their day.”