Football Preview: Flyers visit Morehead State after comeback win

Junior running back Jake Chisholm (center, No. 29) will have a chance to exploit a Morehead State defense that allows 190.7 rushing yards per game. Photo courtesy of Zach Merz, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor

Following a 63-43 comeback win over Presbyterian, the Dayton Flyers football team now heads onto the road to face 1-2 Morehead State on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Senior safety Brandon Easterling, who was named a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy (“The Academic Heisman”) for the second straight year on Tuesday, said he thought “yikes” when he looked up at the scoreboard and saw a 23-0 deficit last week.

“Going into the game, I thought we were the better team. But they came out and they hit us right in the mouth. It was just kind of something where we were sitting on the bench and we talked and we were like, listen, we got a lot of football left, this isn’t over. We adjusted and picked up with the speed and obviously the rest is history.”

The Flyers then went on a 63-7 run from the end of the first quarter through the third quarter on the way to improving to 2-1 and opening play in the Pioneer Football League with a win. But head coach Rick Chamberlin still expects this game to come down to the fourth quarter. 

“We always talk about with PFL teams, it’s going to come down to the fourth quarter. We’ve got to be in contention going into that fourth quarter. If we’re ahead or behind, it’s going to be a fight, because I know Morehead’s not going to give up in the fourth quarter.”

A 1-2 record doesn’t paint the full picture for Morehead State, who has faced (and lost) to James Madison and Austin Peay. Redshirt freshman receiver Sam Bubonics, who played a significant role (2 receptions for 42 yards, recovered onside kick) in the Presbyterian game, said the Eagles “look pretty good” but expects to be able to “show their weaknesses.”

One such weakness is the Eagles’ run defense, which has allowed 190.7 yards per game.

“We’ve always said it, we always have a great running attack. (Junior running back Jake) Chisholm and (redshirt freshman Michael) Neel, and our young offensive line that keeps getting better every single week. So I think we’ll exploit that weakness.”

On the opposite side of the ball, the Eagles average 296 passing yards per game between graduate senior Mark Pappas and redshirt freshman Grady Cramer. From watching film, Easterling says the Eagles are an athletic team and “stick to their guns,” unlike Presbyterian. 

“But what they do they do really well. In my five years, in my opinion, this is probably the best Morehead team I’ve seen, so we definitely have our hands full, but I think we’ll be alright.”

Freshman defensive end Chris Pepe, who was named PFL Defensive Player of the Week, said the Flyers must “execute really well.”

“(We have to) have a great work ethic and just overall play above what we have done in the past.”

One thing the Flyers have done well is sacking the opposing quarterback. Nine sacks through three games are more than the Flyers had through nine games in 2019, with Pepe leading the charge.

Going into Saturday’s game, scheduled for kickoff at 2 p.m. from Jayne Stadium in Morehead, Ky., on ESPN+, the Flyers lead the all-time series 19-6, winning the last two meetings.

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