POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The University of Dayton defense forced seven turnovers in leading the way to a 31-21 win at Marist Saturday afternoon. Safety Zach Elias led the Flyers with six tackles (four solo), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass broken up and an interception he returned 26 yards to set up UD’s second touchdown.
Quarterback Will Bardo keyed the offense, completing 19 of 27 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Bardo also ran for a 10-yard score. Bardo spread his passes among seven different receivers.
Ross Smith led with five for 49 yards with a TD, followed by Gabe Macis (4 for 29), Ian Palin (3 for 19 and his first career TD), Cory Stuart (2 for 30), Tyler Tumpane (2 for 27) Connor Kacsor (2 for 1) and Jack Adams (1 for 6)
Kacsor, the PFL’s leading rusher, was also the game’s leading ground gainer with 21 carries for 81 yards. He was clutch in the fourth quarter, gaining 65 yards on 12 attempts as the Flyers played ball control to protect their lead.
After Marist gained nearly half of its yardage in the first quarter (144 of 308) and go ahead 14-7, Dayton scored 21 unanswered points. Bardo ran it in from the 10 after a 70-yard drive to tie it, and then hit a diving Smith on third and goal from the four to give Dayton the lead for good.
On the ensuing kickoff, Colin McManamon stripped the ball from Marist’s Lawrence Dickens at the Red Fox 20. The ball was fumbled forward, where UD placekicker William Will scooped it up and ran it in from the 26-yard-line to make the score 28-14 going into halftime.
It remained 28-14 until early in the fourth period when Marist took advantage of a bad punt snap to drive 50 yards and make the score 28-21. That’s when Dayton turned to Kacsor, who ran for 45 of the 67 yards that led to a 31-yard Will field goal to give the Flyers a two-score cushion again, 31-21.
Almost as important as the point was the time off the clock. UD kept the ball for nearly six minutes on the field goal drive.
Interceptions by Ryan Schwenke and Christian Searles ended Marist’s last two drives and the Flyers took three knees to let the clock wind down on their third straight win.
Defensive end Nate Sudnick led the Flyers with eight tackles. The seven turnovers were acquired by six different players. In addition to Elias, Will, Schwenke and Searles, Nolan Harmotto had a pass interception and Austen Alber recovered a fumble. Alber also forced a fumble, had a sack, had two TFL with his five tackles (4 solo).
Red Fox quarterback Anthony Francis was 16 of 28 passing for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Marist effort.
Dayton is now 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Pioneer Football League. Marist falls to 1-6, ad 1-3 in the PFL.
UD returns home this week for the first time since Sept. 20, when the Flyers welcome Morehead State to town. Game time is 1 p.m. ET.