Senior tailback Connor Kacsor tortures the Georgetown defense Saturday, Sept. 6 in a 23-14 Flyer victory. Kascor set UD’s single-game record with 301 yards rushing. Chris Santucci/Photo Editor
By: Chris Bendel – Sports Editor
Senior tailback Connor Kacsor came up two yards short on a fourth and six with 1:22 remaining in Dayton’s 2014 season opening, 23-14 victory against Georgetown University Sept. 6 at Welcome Stadium.
Kacsor rushed to the sideline visibly frustrated as the Georgetown offense took over on downs. Even though the outcome of the game was not in doubt, a first down would have given the Dayton offense the privilege to run out the clock.
Immediately following the fourth down attempt, the crowd of 3,468 erupted in cheers. Not at the result of the play, but because the public address announcer’s voice boomed that Kacsor had set the Dayton single-game rushing record with a 301-yard, 34 carry performance.
“Honestly, I didn’t know I broke the record until the announcer announced it,” Kacsor said.
He was locked in at the task in hand.
“I wasn’t thinking about the record,” Kacsor said. “I was more worried about getting that first down and securing the win. I came to the sideline and I was honestly upset I didn’t get that first down.”
Head coach Rick Chamberlin said he was also unaware of Kacsor’s numbers until the official announcement. He didn’t realize Kacsor totaled 297 rushing yards before Dayton’s final offensive play. While short of the first down, the four-yard rush gave Kacsor the title of the first 300-yard rusher in school history.
“When we got to fourth down, we asked who’s our guy,” Chamberlin said. “Everyone knows Connor’s our number one guy back there.”
Kacsor credits his offensive line, a unit that only returned two starters from last season, for opening holes for him throughout the afternoon. He said they should share in the accolades of the record.
The tailback now holds the first and third most single-game rushing yards in school history. Last season, against the University of Davidson Oct. 5, 2013, Kacsor was seven yards shy of Jermaine Bailey’s record of 251 yards.
As only the second 300-yard performer on the ground in Pioneer Football League’s 22-year history, Kacsor was named the PFL offensive player of the week Sept. 7.
Against Georgetown of the Patriot League, he surpassed Bailey’s mark by 50 yards. He also scored UD’s first touchdown of the season with 2:11 remaining in the first half giving Dayton a 13-7 lead at the break.
Junior placekicker William Will, who was selected as the PFL special teams player of the week for his performance, hit three field goals on the afternoon, including a 49-yarder in the first quarter, which was the longest field goal by a UD kicker in 30 years.
Redshirt senior quarterback and four year starter Will Bardo was 19-33 for 176 yards passing with one touchdown and an interception on the day.
Bardo connected with redshirt senior receiver Branden Johnson on a 19-yard touchdown pitch and catch late in the third quarter, pushing UD’s lead to 20-7. Johnson finished with six receptions for 61 yards.
Redshirt senior receiver Gabe Macis also recorded six receptions for 63 yards.
Georgetown answered two drives later with a touchdown of their own, before Will’s third field goal wrapped up the scoring with 7:08 to go in the fourth quarter.
Throughout the afternoon, the coaching staff relied on their workhorse tailback, who consistently reached the second level of the Georgetown defense.
Chamberlin said Kacsor’s adept, quick moves down the field make it difficult for opposing defenders to get a clear shot on the back.
Kacsor said the team worked all week in practice preparing for a tough Georgetown defensive line with an emphasis on bringing the UD power rushing attack to the next level of their opponent’s defense.
“Once I get to that second level I’m mainly looking for a touchdown and I’m just letting my instincts roll,” Kacsor said.
UD will travel to Pittsburgh this weekend for a matchup against Duquesne University. The noon game will be the second of three non-conference games on the schedule before opening Pioneer League play Oct. 4 at Davidson.