By: Brendan Zdunek – Staff Writer
Flyer football has yet again found its victorious rhythm, currently riding a three-game winning streak to the tune of a 5-2 record. After losing two games in a row, Dayton defeated Drake and Morehead State Universities at home. Then UD went on the road Oct. 15 to take down Jacksonville University.
Rushing was the name of the game for the Flyers in their 51-27 trouncing of the Morehead State Eagles at Welcome Stadium on Oct. 8. The Flyers ran for 461 yards and six of their seven touchdowns. Dayton’s rushing attack was too much for the Eagles defense to stop, and the UD coaching staff knew a game like this was going to happen at some point.
“That’s just because we’re getting healthy now, both the offensive line with our running backs. We knew we could have a running attack this year and it’s finally getting into its rhythm,” said head coach Rick Chamberlin.
And that rhythm accelerated throughout the game against Morehead State.
After a completely scoreless first quarter, the Flyers scored first in the second quarter with a touchdown run by running back Jared Ruffing. UD built up their lead later with a field goal by kicker William Will and another touchdown run by Ruffing.
The Eagles tacked on a touchdown of their own with a pass by quarterback Austin Gahafer, but the Flyers answered quickly with a touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Jeske to wide receiver Jack Euritt–running the score to 24-7 in Dayton’s advantage at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Eagles were the first to strike with another touchdown pass by Gahafer. The Flyers then got two more field goals from Will. Near the end of the quarter, the Eagles got yet another touchdown pass, but missed the extra point, making it a 30-20 game in the Flyers’ advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Ruffing ran in another touchdown for Dayton, but Morehead State answered with another touchdown pass by Gahafer, this time an 86-yard bomb to Darius Pritchett, again cutting the Flyers’ lead to 10 points. However, that was the closest Morehead State would get.
Dayton scored on a huge 57-yard touchdown run by running back Tucker Yinger, and later a 13-yard run by Jeske. The Flyers ended up on top 51-27.
At the end of the game, Yinger had tallied 193 rushing yards on 21 carries, Ruffing had 186 yards on 20 carries, and even Jeske got in on the action with 83 yards on nine carries. However, despite the huge running game, Yinger thought the win represented more than just a good ground offense.
“Last weekend, the offensive line did outstanding, and the receivers down the field did outstanding. It was more of a collective, group effort than just me and Jared. Everything is working out really well,” said Yinger, the redshirt sophomore running back.
On another note, the redshirt senior kicker William Will had a big day for himself as well. He was 3-for-3 on field goals including a 49-yarder, which matched his career long. Along with that, he had six successful point-after-touchdown kicks. With those six, he had converted 69 consecutive, successful PATs, a new Dayton football record.
Will was later named FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week for his nine made kicks.
“We had a really good day. Everyone was executing well. The snapping by Ian [Palin] and Sean [Smith] with the holding were good. They were doing a really good job,” said Will.
After starting the season confidently with two home wins against Central State and Robert Morris, the team lost two road games to Duquesne and San Diego. They have now come back with three more wins, including the past weekend’s victory in Jacksonville, making their overall record 5-2. Now, the challenge is to continue getting victories on the road.
“We’re hitting midseason here where things are starting to fall into place. I talked about being healthy. That helps us in a number of positions there and we’re playing with confidence, but we got to get that road win now,” said Chamberlin prior to the Jacksonville game. “We’ve been playing very well at home, but we have to prove it on the road now.”
While the season is always mentally and physically grueling, the Flyers are confident in their current game plan moving forward.
“It’s going to take a really diligent mentality and focus. We have to treat like a business trip, just go down there and do what we do,” said Yinger. “We have to take it one week at a time and just play Flyer football.”