By: Katie Obear – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton football team wrapped up the 2014 season Nov. 22 with a win against the Campbell University Camels 19-14 at Welcome Stadium and ended the season 8-3, the team’s most wins in four years.
It was the Flyers 37th winning season in the last 38 years.
During the final game, the fans recognized the 27 graduating seniors including team captains and redshirt seniors quarterback Will Bardo and defensive tackle Pat Dowd.
Senior receiver Shaquille Tensley was also the recipient of the 59th Lt. Andy Zulli Memorial Award. This award has been presented since 1956 in honor of Lt. Andy Zulli, a former Flyers football player who was killed in a military vehicle accident while serving overseas.
Considered to be the most prestigious award in the football program, it is presented to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of Zulli, who exhibited sportsmanship, scholarship and leadership during his career in a UD uniform.
Senior tailback Connor Kacsor rushed for 90 yards on 24 carries and broke the school record of 2,940 all-time career rushing yards previously held by Sylvester Monroe. Kacsor now has 2,943 career -yards rushing.
With an eye toward next season, the all-time leading rusher in UD history has one year of eligibility remaining, should he choose to return to the program for a fifth year.
The Pioneer Football League named Kacsor the top returning rusher and gave him the title of First Team Preseason All-PFL. In a span of three games in the middle of the season, Kacsor rushed for 213, 232 and 301 yards and ended the season with a total of 1,547 yards rushed.
Monday afternoon, the PFL announced Kacsor received top offensive honors as the PFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.
The Flyers, who finished their season 8-3 and 6-2 in the Pioneer Football League, entered the season with the third best winning percentage in FCS football since 2000 and had the most football Academic All Americans at any level of competition over that span, with a total of 22.
“The thing about the Dayton football program is the quality that we present ourselves, both on the field and off the field, in the classroom, out in the community. These young men have done that,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said.
UD opened their season strong, with a win at home against Georgetown 23-14.
“What I really think was successful was the very first game of the year against Georgetown out of the Patriot League, a league out of a higher caliber than ours and to start off the season with a big win, and Connor getting 300 yards,” Chamberlin said.
After a loss to Duquesne University in the team’s second game of the season, UD went on a four game winning streak, winning against Robert Morris (31-7), Davidson (54-48), Marist (31-21), and Morehead State University (41-7), before losing to eventual PFL champion San Diego University Oct. 25.
The closest game of the season was in one of their final games against Drake University, where the Flyers lost 34-30, essentially ending their PFL title hopes. However, during the final two games, the Flyers brought in two wins beating Butler University 21-14 and then against Campbell.
“When we lost to Drake, we definitely had to get these last two wins, and that’s what we did for the seniors,” redshirt freshman receiver Jack Euritt said.
Compared with last season’s record of 7-4, and the 2012 and 2011 seasons’ records of 6-5, it is clear that under the strong leadership and direction of head coach Rick Chamberlin the program is consistently improving.
The team’s top two receivers in terms of receiving yards, redshirt seniors Ross Smith and Gabe Macis, also will graduate for the Flyers, with third and fourth leading receivers, freshman Tyler Tumpane and redshirt sophomore Cory Stuart, returning for the 2015 season.
Leading tacklers, redshirt sophomore linebacker Christopher Beaschler and junior linebacker Ryan Schwenke will return and look to once again anchor the Flyer defense.
Although just wrapping up the last game of the season, Chamberlin is already looking for new leadership to emerge for next season.
“We are going to have new faces. [Redshirt senior quarterback] Will Bardo is done so we have to find a new quarterback. Connor [Kacsor] may come back. He has a fifth year available. So, there will be somebody stepping up next year. Somebody that we are not even thinking of right now,” Chamberlin said.
A four-year starter, Bardo’s graduation will force Chamberlin to start a new quarterback for the first time since 2011, a position battle that will develop over the spring and summer workouts.