By: Connor Hanson – Staff Writer
Opening the Dayton game day information packet and flipping to players to watch, one will see a familiar face staring back at them, redshirt senior running back, Connor Kacsor.
That page was not wrong Saturday, as he went off for something just short of a career day, carrying the ball 40 times for 244 yards and three touchdowns in Dayton’s 24-13 win over Duquesne—all of this in Dayton’s home opener with a stadium chock-full of parents and students for family weekend.
Even under a first-time starting quarterback, nothing seemed to deter Kacsor from his usual rugged style of running, as he tore up the field in each and every quarter, adding to his already all-time program career rushing record.
Kacsor was coming off the Robert Morris game, a 27-24 Flyers victory, two weeks ago where he only had 72 yards on 2.2 yards per carry, Kacsor basically tripled what he had that day. Rushing for well over 200 with 6.2 yards per attempt, Duquesne just could not seem to find an answer for him, as he was able to work in both the open field and in between the tackles.
He finished the day with three touchdowns, two from inside the five-yard line and one on a 34-yard rumble that left him diving for the pylon. With his biggest run of the day—a 46 yard outburst—coming in the third quarter, it seemed as if he was getting better, and perhaps more comfortable, as the game progressed.
Now, every person makes mistakes, no matter how perfectly they may seem to play. Kacsor’s error came toward the end of the first quarter as he attempted to get out of his own end zone, losing the ball only to see the defense recover it for a score.
“When you leave the ball on the ground, it’s always a bad feeling,” Kacsor said after the game. “You try to forget about it, but the teammates helped me out and kept me up. And going into halftime [running backs coach Mark] Ewald said, ‘It’s only halftime, and we have to come back and respond.”
And respond they did.
Kacsor nearly tripled his rushing total of his first half, as Dayton’s offense began to click into groove, scoring 21 unanswered points after a 6-3 halftime deficit. Kacsor also saw his rushing attempts skyrocket in the second half, going from 14 carries in the first half to 12 in the third and 14 in the fourth alone. His yards per carry also remained constant, hovering just over six for the entire game.
“We know Connor has the speed and the vision to hit the hole and bounce out when he needs to,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “But what impressed me today was his toughness, his physical play to be able to go inside and keep his feet driving and get two or three yards after the hit.”
On only his second game this season, Kacsor is showing why he was named the Pioneer Football League’s Offensive Player of the Year last year. And if that isn’t enough, Kacsor was also named to the STATS LLC Player of the Year Award Watch list, which goes to the nation’s top football player in the NCAA Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision.
Kacsor’s performance earned him a split of the PFL’s Offensive Player of the Week award, which he shared with Marist running back Marcellus Calhoun.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior cornerback Cameron Stubbs snared two interceptions, including one on his own goal line, and also recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss. His performance earned him sole possession of the PFL Defensive Player of the Week award.
With the first home game of the season under his belt, Kacsor looks to pick up right where he left off and continue to build on his already outstanding resume at Dayton while helping his team continue to reach bigger and higher levels this year.
The Flyers’ next game will be at home under the lights at Welcome Stadium, against Kennesaw State Saturday at 6 p.m., where Kacsor will surely be looking to make another big impact on the ground.
Photo: Cameron Stubbs records one of his six tackles during the Flyers’ 24-13 win over Duquesne. Photo by Multimedia Editor Chris Santucci.