Senior quarterback Will Bardo tracks a receiver during a PFL game against San Diego, Saturday, Oct. 19, at Welcome Stadium. UD defeated Morehead State 42-12, Oct. 26 to improve to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the PFL, which places them in a four-way tie for the top spot with San Diego, Butler and Marist.
(Ethan Klosterman/Photo Editor)
By: CHRIS BENDEL, Asst. Sports Editor
Thanks to the University of Dayton football team’s offense, which produced 504 yards of total offense and another dependable performance from the defensive unit, the team secured a 42-14 victory over Morehead State University Saturday, Oct. 26.
Redshirt sophomore tailback Connor Kacsor led a UD rushing attack, gaining 313 yards on the day and overpowered Morehead State in the second half.
Kacsor finished the day with 159 yards on 31 carries and scored a touchdown that was part of a second half scoring barrage of 28 unanswered points for the Flyers to turn a competitive contest in the first half into a route during the second.
Teaming up with Kacsor, redshirt senior tailback Robert Washington rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. The combination of Kacsor and Washington accounted for about 48 percent of UD’s total offensive production.
Kacsor said he credited his blockers for allowing him and his teammates more room to maneuver in the second half.
“From the second quarter to the third quarter [the offensive line] really stepped up their game and it was unbelievable to see them getting the blocks and springing me to the second level…That’s where I like to run and that’s where I have the most open field,” Kacsor said.
Along with a productive running game, the Flyer defense proved effective against Morehead State, holding them to 223 yards of total offense and half of its season average in scoring. The Eagles came into the game averaging 28.3 points per game.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Beaschler picked up where he left off in the University of San Diego game on Oct. 19, and led the team in tackles with nine, five of which were solo takedowns.
With an interception and eight tackles, redshirt senior linebacker Colin Monnier also played a key role in UD’s defensive effort.
Everyone on UD’s defense was “flying to the ball and everyone was doing their job,” Beaschler said.
Dayton’s return man, senior receiver Gary Hunter, received the opening kickoff for 21 yards and on the second play of the game, senior quarterback Will Bardo connected with Hunter on a 54-yard pass, taking the ball down to the Eagles 16-yard line.
A delay of game penalty set UD back five yards, but on the ensuing play, Bardo found redshirt sophomore receiver Dan Ney in the end zone to give the Flyers an early 7-0 lead. It was Ney’s first touchdown as a collegiate player.
On the day, Bardo finished 13 of 20 passing for 191 yards and the one touchdown to Ney. He also added 41 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Morehead State responded on its first drive, matching Bardo and the UD offense to tie the game at seven with 11:23 remaining in the first quarter.
To take a 14-7 lead and finish the scoring in the first half, Hunter rushed 17 yards for the UD touchdown on his team’s next possession. A scoreless second quarter gave UD a seven-point edge at the half.
Along with his touchdown on the ground, Hunter finished the day as UD’s leading receiver with six receptions totaling 117 yards.
“[The game] started off the way we thought it would be, there at halftime only ahead by a touchdown,” Chamberlin said.
Things soon changed for Chamberlin and the Flyers, but not before Morehead State knotted up the score at 14.
After a 33-yard kickoff return established favorable field position for Morehead State, freshman quarterback Austin Gahafer connected with freshman wide receiver Mason Rutherford on the 3-yard pitch and catch. With 11:45 to go in the third quarter, the Eagles tied things up.
In what Chamberlin described as the turning point for the Flyers, the UD offense swiftly responded and marched the ball 59 yards on 11 plays, culminating in a Kacsor score to give the Flyers a 21-14 lead. From there, UD just kept running.
The UD defense only let up 50 yards of total offense for the remainder of the game and on offense, extended its lead on the ground.
When the UD offense took the seven-point lead, Chamberlin said, “basically after that we were in control both offensively and defensively.”
Using two rushing touchdowns from Bardo and one from Washington, the UD offense rattled off 21 more points en route to its victory.
After a thrilling double overtime win against San Diego the week before, the Flyer football team headed to Morehead State confidently, but according to head coach Rick Chamberlin, very cognizant of the fact they would be facing a team near the top of Pioneer Football League standings.
“Whenever you have a win like San Diego, you can enjoy it for one night, but then it’s on to the next one,” Chamberlin said. “That’s just how the PFL is.”
Morehead State entered the game riding a three-game conference winning streak – the team’s first since 2007 – and boasted an offense led by its freshman quarterback in Gahafer who put up 458 passing yards in the Eagles 42-28 win over Valparaiso University Oct. 19.
Further, Morehead State celebrated homecoming in its matchup against the Flyers and Chamberlin predicted a big crowd.
While the ingredients for a let-down following his team’s performance against San Diego, Chamberlin also anticipated his team remaining focused on the task at hand.
Both of Chamberlin’s expectations were met as UD cruised to a victory over Morehead State in front of 7,547 fans. UD now sits atop of the Pioneer Football League standings, locked in a four-way tie for first place.
With 4-1 conference records, Dayton, Butler University, San Diego and Marist University are all tied for first place at the top of the PFL standings. Mercer University also has one loss at 3-1 this season.
Dayton will take on one of those conference championship contenders at 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, when the Flyers face Butler at Welcome Stadium.