By: Connor Hanson – Staff Writer
After what looked to be a rainy and foggy game, the sun prevailed and so did the Dayton Flyers, who pounded the rock on their way to a 24-13 victory over the Duquesne Dukes Saturday at Welcome Stadium.
Alex Jeske, a redshirt first-year, took hold of the reins Saturday, as he made his first career start in Dayton’s home opener. Jeske completed 15 of 26 pass attempts for 206 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions on the day.
“I thought he had his moments: Sometimes his passing wasn’t confident where he was throwing, sometimes he was trying to place the ball instead of throwing it and he threw a couple in the second half that I thought were very good,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “We’ll keep working with him and Blake Bir [redshirt sophomore quarterback].”
Redshirt senior running back Connor Kacsor followed his coach’s comments about Jeske, saying, “He commands out there, and that’s what we need in a quarterback. And to run that fast tempo offense takes one smart kid,” Kacsor said. “I think Jeske is doing well out there, and I’m excited to see what happens this season.”
During a special day for Jeske, Kacsor also shined in front of the parents weekend home crowd. Throughout all four quarters, Kacsor averaged over six yards per carry. He was called on what seemed like every play, and he delivered, snap after snap, toting the ball 40 times for a whopping 246 yards. That is the fifth time Kacsor has eclipsed 200 yards in his career at Dayton.
“I’ll be in the training room bright and early [tomorrow],” Kacsor said. “Duquesne is a tough team, very physical. The O-line was opening up huge holes. They just kept giving me a crease, and I was able to turn on the afterburners and just go.”
The game started with a stadium of rain jackets and umbrellas. After two unsuccessful drives to start the first quarter, Dayton broke out onto the scene after a five-play drive that stalled near the Duquesne 30-yard line. Even after a missed 34-yard field goal attempt on the prior series, the Flyers showed no hesitation as they sent out senior kicker William Will, who nailed a 46-yarder.
Dayton would find itself backed up in their own end zone after a goal line leaping interception by senior cornerback Cameron Stubbs, his first of two on the game.
Kacsor then was handed the ball in his own end zone and attempted to bounce to the outside to find more yards but was stripped, and Duquesne fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown. Just like that, Dayton found themselves facing a 6-3 deficit after the Flyers blocked the extra-point attempt.
After a combined 133 yards of offense from both teams in the second quarter, the clock struck zeros before either team could cross the opposing goal line, with the halftime score still favoring Duquesne 6-3. Both teams would then open the second half with three-and-outs. However, Duquesne would find the end zone on their second series after an up tempo seven-play drive that ended in a touchdown strike to wide receiver Wayne Capers. Down by 10 halfway through the third quarter, Dayton orchestrated an eight-play drive mainly consisting of six rushes from Kacsor for 62 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run. After the extra point, Dayton found itself only down by three with some momentum on their side.
Dayton would keep its foot on the gas pedal, sticking with its ground-and-pound method with Kacsor, who found the end zone twice more before the game was over.
Dayton will play next Saturday, hosting undefeated Kennesaw State in the last nonconference matchup of the season. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Welcome Stadium.
PHOTO: Connor Kacsor dives for the pylon to score his third touchdown of the Flyers’ 24-13 win over Duquesne. Kacsor rushed for 244 yards on 40 carries. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor.
For more on running back Connor Kacsor, pick up Wednesday’s print issue of Flyer News.