Ground game powers Flyers past Morehead

DAYTON, Ohio – Led by Connor Kacsor’s 232 yards and four touchdowns in just 10 carries, the University of Dayton improved to 3-0 in the Pioneer Football League with a 41-7 win over Morehead State Saturday at Welcome Stadium. Dayton rolled up 443 yards on the ground, and 514 yards in total offense, while holding MSU to 136 and 312.

UD improved to 5-1 overall as well as 3-0 in the PFL. The Flyers have won four straight. Morehead State is now 2-5, and 1-3 in the PFL.

After the Golden Eagles took the opening kickoff, the two teams combined for three possessions and zero first downs until Kacsor took the ball 52 yards down the right sideline for a score. It was Kacsor’s first carry of the day, the first first down of the day, and of course the first score of the day.

In the second quarter, a Gabe Macis 14-yard punt return gave Dayton the ball on its own 41. Six plays and 58 yards later, Kacsor took it from the 11-yard line to put the Flyers up 14-0. Two possessions later, Kacsor opened and closed a second one play drive, this time running 63 yards for his third TD of the day.

A great individual play by defensive end Nate Sudnick gave UD a short field to work with just before the half. He batted an attempted screen pass up in the air and then tracked it down for an interception at the MSU 21-yard line. Two plays later, backup running back Jack Adams banged it in from the nine-yard-line to make it a 28-0 score at halftime.

Kacsor had 167 yards in the first half, and averaged 20.9 per carry on eight attempts. Incredibly, he would raise that per-carry average in the second half.

Dayton would receive the second half kickoff, and it went out-of-bounds to give the Flyers the ball on the 35. Kacsor carried the ball twice more — one run for four yards, and another scoring run for 61 – and then his day was done.

It was Kacsor’s third game of 200 yards of more this season, and his second game with four touchdowns. The Flyers came into the game with no offensive plays over 50 yards in 2014.   By game’s end, Kacsor would have three of his own, and (spoiler alert) Kyle Sess would have one too.

Morehead State would get on the board with 51 seconds left in the game with a 16-play, 68-yard drive. Quarterback Austin Gahafer hit Jake Raymond from four yards out. Gahafer was 20 of 29 for 155 yards, and Raymond had five catches for 64 yards on the day.

Dayton closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter when utility man Sess (he came to UD as a quarterback, was moved to receiver and is now also operating out of the back field) scored on the longest play of the day, a 66-yard broken-field romp that was UD’s sixth rushing TD in the game. A PAT that hit the upright was the only blemish in the scoring column in in the contest for the Flyers.

Linebacker Christopher Beaschler led the Dayton defense with 17 tackles (10 solo), and a pass break up. Flyer back Ryan Schwenke added 11 hits. Safety Danny Leach contributed six hits, a sack, and forced and recovered a fumble.

The Eagles came into the game averaging 245.7 yards a game through the air, but the Dayton defensive pressure helped limit that to 176 yards thanks to three sacks and four QB hurries.

Dayton only had to throw the ball 14 times, but Ross Smith’s 13-yard reception in the third quarter gave him at least one catch in 26 straight games.   Cory Stuart led the Flyers with three grabs for 27 yards.

While Kacsor grabbed the headlines, UD’s ground game was hitting on all cylinders.

Saturday was Dayton’s annual Football Alumni Game, and the guests of honor were the members of the 1984 team that went 10-0 in the regular season.   That team’s offensive line referred to themselves as “The Moving Company,” and UD’s offensive line put on a show that would have made The Moving Company proud.

The Flyer starting front from left to right – Jimmy Vogel, Chris Cortopassi, Shane Toub, Soern Osborne and Zac Morgan –their linemates who also played – Trey Cole, Robert Delaney, Patrick Nuzzolese, Jim Hammontree, Chris Costa, and Spencer Luallen – along with tight ends Ian Palin and Gus Madden, and H back Jack Beebe, opened holes that led to a 9.6 yard per carry average on the day.

Four Flyers had more than 60 yards rushing. J.J. Greenwood carried the ball 15 times for 77 yards in his most extensive action of 2014 after bouncing back from an injury, Sess had 66 on three carries, and Adams gained 63 yards.

UD goes back on the road next Saturday, traveling for the third time in four weeks. Dayton is at PFL preseason favorite San Diego on Oct. 25. Game time at Torero Stadium is 9 p.m. ET.

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