The University of Dayton football team will be in playoff mode Saturday when the Flyers travel to Des Moines to face Drake. UD is in a must-win situation to have a chance to capture its 10th Pioneer Football League championship. Dayton (7-2, 5-1 PFL) needs to win both of its remaining games, and get some help from either Jacksonville this week and/or Drake next week to knock off undefeated Butler. It's that simple, but on the field it will be anything but because this week's opponent, Drake (8-1, 6-0 PFL) is also undefeated. Game time is 4 p.m. ET.
NO ONE'S DOING IT BETTER The Flyers entered the season with the second-best winning percentage (.788, 78-21) in FCS football since 2000 AND have produced the most football Academic All-Americans (17) at any level of competition in the same time frame.
STREAKING UD has not been shut out in 374 straight games, the best such active string in all of college football. The last team to shut out the Flyers was Marshall, 9-0, on Oct. 16, 1976. That is also the all-time FCS record.
SERIES STUFF UD leads the series 21-4, has won the last two meetings overall and the last six contests at Drake. Last year, UD won 27-9 in Dayton.
THE BULLDOGS ARE... One of the last two remaining unbeaten teams in PFL play this season. Drake enters Saturday's game with a six-game winning streak and is undefeated (5-0) at home in 2009. The `Dogs are coming off a season-high 49 points against Campbell last Saturday, and have scored more than 40 points in the last two games. Saturday's game will feature not just the top two defenses in the PFL, but two of the top 10 in FCS football. UD is fourth in total defense (240.6), roughly a mere 20 yards better than Drake's seventh-place 260.4. The Bulldogs lead the PFL in red-zone efficiency, scoring 88% of the time they reach the 20-yard line, thanks in part to the best kicker in the conference, Brandon Wubs. No other kicker in the PFL has attempted as many field goals as he has made (12), and he also leads the league in accuracy (12 of 14, 87.5%). Dain Taylor leads the PFL in tackles for loss (15.5).
HEAD COACH Rick Chamberlin Rick Chamberlin guided UD to a 9-3 record in 2008, in his first season as Dayton's head coach. An AFCA All-America Flyer linebacker from 1975 to 1978, he served as a UD assistant coach for 28 years. Chamberlin has been a part of 310 of UD's 610 wins -- 26 as a player, 268 as an assistant coach, and 16 as a head coach. He was inducted into the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.
CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN UD is led by captains Drew Fumagalli, Sean Heenan and Steve Valentino. Fumagalli is a redshirt senior linebacker from Naperville, Ill. Heenan, a redshirt senior defensive tackle from St. Joseph, Mich., was the OCF Preseason Defensive Player of the Year among FCS Subdivision teams in the state of Ohio but is currently out with a knee injury. He is this year's Flyer nominee for the NFF Scholar-Athlete Award. Valentino is a senior wide receiver/quarterback/kick returner from Solon, Ohio. After starting the season opener at wideout, he was pressed into service at quarterback, and has merely guided the Flyers to seven straight wins.
ALL PFL ALL BACK Four of the 10 UD players who were named All-PFL in 2008 are back in the Red & Blue in 2009. Wideout Steve Valentino was a first team selection, as were defensive tackle Kalen Hemmelgarn and linebacker Joe Ries. Defensive tackle Sean Heenan was a second-team selection.
DAYTON D UD is fourth in FCS football in total defense (240.6, second in pass defense (132.7) and seventh in scoring defense (14.2) and first in pass efficiency defense (95.2). Dayton also leads the PFL in first downs allowed (11.7), opponent third down conversions (22.7%), fourth down conversions (53.8), penalties committed (39), and time of possession (32:48 per game).
DAYTON D BACK The Flyers return eight starters from the team that finished in the FCS top 10 of all four major defensive statistical categories last year. The Flyers were ninth in pass efficiency defense (100.61), sixth in total defense (255.83), fifth in scoring defense (15.33) and second in rushing defense (60.67). Four of the starters are in the heart of the defense - all-conference performers Kalen Hemmelgarn and Sean Heenan at tackle and Joe Ries at linebacker, and co-captain Drew Fumagalli at the other linebacker. The other four returning starters on defense are defensive end Brandon Wingeier, cornerback Scott Horcher, safety Kevin Burns and cornerback/safety Matt Smyth.
ENDANGERED SPECIES The top three quarterbacks coming out of spring ball for the Flyers became injured early in the season with shoulder injuries, paving the way for Steve Valentino to move to quarterback. Redshirt sophomore Jeff Pechan, who started two games last year (including the Butler game), suffered an on-the-job accident over the summer and tore his labrum. Pechan is out for the year. Redshirt freshman Timmy Fogarty started the Urbana game and went 7-of-14 for 28 yards before spraining his shoulder when he landed on it as he was being sacked. Fogarty returned in the fourth quarter at Valparaiso. Sophomore Jared Phillips came in for Fogarty and was 14-of-32 for 145 yards, but injured his shoulder on the last play of the Urbana game. He returned to action in the fourth quarter of the Morehead win. To make matters worse, the top freshman QB, Paul Fackler, missed time early in the season with an injured elbow. Ironically, the player on the roster with the most career passes heading into the 2009 campaign was Valentino, who was First Team All-PFL as a receiver. Valentino, who came into the year with 20 career passes filling in at QB the last two seasons and now has 250 career attempts. He moved from receiver to quarterback for the Robert Morris game and led the Flyers to seven straight wins.
V IS FOR VICTORY Dayton has won seven of eight games since Steve Valentino was moved into the starting quarterback role.
V IS FOR VERSATILE When the UD football team had its annual Picture Day, none of the six quarterbacks in the "QB Group" photo wore number seven. But after leading UD to seven straight wins and being named the Pioneer Football League's Offensive Player of the Week three times, it's safe to assume that senior captain Steve Valentino is in the picture now. Valentino played quarterback one season at Solon High School and spent his redshirt freshman season running UD's scout team. He then played backup QB and threw just five passes in 2007, but was moved to wideout the following spring. Last year he caught 50 passes and was named First Team All-PFL. Voted a team captain last spring, he did not take any snaps at quarterback until Tuesday, Sept. 15. With four days practice, Valentino threw for two touchdowns and was 14 of 29 passing for 192 yards with one interception at Robert Morris. He was also UD's leading ground gainer, carrying the ball 21 times for 58 yards. In the Duquesne win, Valentino was 19 of 29 passing for 272 yards and two TD's, and also carried the ball 20 times for 76 yards. At Morehead State, he was 14 of 20 for 242 yards and another two TD's. At Campbell, Valentino was 23 of 39 passing for 241 yards, and he also ran 13 times for 114 yards and two TD's. In the Davidson win, he gained 77 yards on the ground and another 145 through the air on 10-of-18 passing. At Valparaiso, he ran for career highs in yards (127) and TD's (3), and was 13-of-18 passing for 188 more yards. In the San Diego win, he ran for 107 yards and passed for 185, scoring the tying and winning TD's and was named the PFL Offensive Player of the Week. Although losing to Butler, Valentino had a career game throwing career highs in passing attempts (44), completions (29), and yards (413). He also had 48 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Before he started throwing the football instead catching it, he started at wideout in the season opener against Urbana and turned 10 "touches" into 150 yards. He caught five passes for 45 yards (including a 10-yard TD), returned three punts for 36 yards (12.0 avg.) and two kickoffs for 69 yards (34.5 avg.). Even though it's unlikely he will get a chance to pad his totals as long as he is playing quarterback, he leads UD in kickoff return average (34.5).
V IS FOR VERY VERSATILE Perhaps we should sum up: Steve Valentino has scored TD's receiving, running and passing, returned kickoffs and punt returns, and has held for every Flyer PAT and FG attempt this year. No other player in the PFL can make that statement.
GOOD HANDS PEOPLE Although none of the active quarterbacks heading into the season for the Flyers had thrown a pass in a college game, there's plenty of experience at the other end of the transaction. UD returned four of its top five receivers from last season, and a record-setting wideout from two years ago. Redshirt senior JMichael Jonard caught a then-school-record 64 passes (for 756 yards and six touchdowns) in 2007. He was not enrolled in school during the 2008 season, and in his absence, redshirt sophomore Justin Millio pulled in the current record of 66 passes for 526 yards and three TD's. Also back are Steve Valentino (2nd on team, 50 catches for 626 yards, 4 TD's), Nick Collins (3rd, 33 for 482, 3 TD's) and Justin Watkins (5th, 16 for 286, 3 TD's). Valentino, a team captain, was First Team All-PFL in 2008. With Valentino starting at QB, Watkins is the team's primary deep threat. While Valentino is the fastest player on the team, Watkins' career 18.3 yards-per-catch average is the best on the veteran receivers by more than five yards a catch (with 14 career catches, sophomore Luke Bellman averages 18.8). After nine games, Watkins has team honors with 39 catches. Jonard has 34 and Collins has 24.
MILESTONE MAKERS JMichael Jonard had seven receptions against Butler on Nov. 7 to achieve over 100 in his career (103). He went over the 1,000-career-yards mark at Valparaiso, and now has 1,147. Justin Watkins reached the 1,000 yard mark in the Davidson win and now has 1,373.
ELEMENTARY Senior wideout Justin Watkins caught seven passes for 97 yards and a touchdown at Robert Morris and came back with three for 105 and another TD in the Duquesne win, and three for 86 and another TD at Morehead State. He had five catches for 106 yards and a TD in the Davidson win. His Davidson score was a monument to individual effort. Watkins not only came back for the ball and wrestled it away from what looked like would become an interception, he then spun away from the first would-be tackler at the five-yard line and tight-roped along the sideline. Even though he was knocked off his feet and heading out of bounds, he was able to reach back to the pylon with the ball for the score. He leads UD in receptions (39, over passing the number of receptions of his first two years in a Flyer uniform) and receiving yards (732) this season. He is third in the PFL in yards per game (81.3) and fifth in receptions per game (4.3).
WELCOME BACK JMichael Jonard's return after a year away from football didn't show any rust. He caught a career-high nine passes for 71 yards in the Urbana game. He also had seven for 54 at Campbell and seven for 98 in the Butler game. He is second on the team in catches this season (27) and is eighth in the Pioneer Football League in receptions per game (3.8).
PAPPY Senior Anthony Papp is one of the reasons UD could move an All-PFL receiver to quarterback and not miss a beat. In eight games played he has 13 catches for 154 yards (11.8 avg.).
SOME CATCHING UP TO DO Redshirt freshmen Tyler Savisky and Tyler Shutz each caught their first career passes at Campbell. Savisky had three for 46 yards and Shutz had two for 24.
GROUND GAME After being held to just 10 yards on the ground in the Urbana game, Dayton got a little more respectable with 114 at Robert Morris and 170 against Duquesne. After gaining 38 yards at Morehead, the Flyers busted out with 212 yards (and a 5.7 yards per carry average) at Campbell. The progression has continued with the Flyers gaining more than two-thirds of their rushing yardage (916 of 1,249) in the last four games. Steve Valentino leads the team in rushing with 624 net yards (4.8 avg.). He is tied third in the PFL in rushing (69.3) and has three 100-yard games in the last five.
IT'S WHAT'S UP FRONT THAT COUNTS In 2008, UD quarterbacks threw 425 passes, while being sacked just 18 times. That's just one sack for every 24 pass attempts. By contrast, Dayton opponents were sacked once every 13 times they threw the ball. So far in 2009, Flyer QB's are averaging over 21 passes for every sack again, and the Flyer foes are being sacked every 12 passes.
THE FLYER FLYER Senior James Vercammen has taken over the "Flyer" position (a hybrid DB/LB role) in the Dayton defense, and has double-digit tackles in six of the nine games this year (he was credited with nine at Morehead and Campbell, and led UD with six at Valparaiso). Vercammen has been UD's top tackler in every game this year, and had a career-high 19 in the San Diego win. He was named the PFL Defensive Player of the Week after getting 10 solo tackles and two assists at Robert Morris. Included in his 12 tackles in the RMU win were three in the backfield and a sack. Vercammen leads the PFL and is third nationally in tackles per game (12.3 per game). He is fourth in the PFL and tied for 11th in FCS football in hits in the backfield (1.56 per game) and tied second for team honors in sacks (4.0).
JOLTIN' JOE Senior linebacker Joe Ries was named the PFL Defensive Player of the Week after a stellar performance in UD's 17-0 win over Davidson. Ries filled the stat sheet in leading Dayton to the shutout win. He intercepted two passes and returned them for 62 yards, broke up another pass, forced a fumble and was in on eight tackles, including four solo hits. A second-year starter, Ries is second on the team in tackles with 58. He also leads the Flyers in interceptions (2) and fumbles forced (2). He was First Team All-Pioneer Football League in 2008.
FILLING SOME BIG SHOES After playing opposite and in the shadow of PFL Defensive Player of the Year Scott Vossler, defensive end Brandon Wingeier has stepped up his game. He was named PFL Defensive Player of the Week after getting a fumble and a 57-yard TD interception return in the Valparaiso win. He leads the team in sacks (5.5,). At Robert Morris, he had five tackles (four solo), with two sacks and two in the backfield, with a fumble forced and a fumble recovered. Against Butler, Wingeier had seven tackles (4 solo), with 1.5 sacks and two tackles for losses.
STARTER JACKET Cornerback Scott Horcher has started a team-high 35 games in his UD career. Number 27 was one to remember against Urbana. He had 10 tackles (eight solo), broke up two passes and intercepted another. He added seven tackles at Robert Morris and eight against Duquesne (with two passes broken up. In the USD win, he had eight hits and two passed broken up. He is second in the PFL in passes defended (1.12). He has seven career interceptions, tied for fourth among active PFL players.
BURNSIE Senior safety Kevin Burns had 12 hits in the Urbana game, including one in the backfield. He had 10 in the Davidson win, including six solo.
SHUTTING OUT DISTRACTIONS Three PFL teams' last shutout was by the Dayton defense. Naturally one is Davidson, who UD beat 17-0 on Oct. 17. The other two are Butler (21 games ago, 61-0 in 2007) and San Diego (109 games ago, 41-0 in 1999).
McGLAVIN Senior Nick Glavin has 16 career field goals, the best in the PFL among active players. His 43-yarder in the Urbana game was a career-best.
MILLER'S CORNER Redshirt sophomore Nate Miller averages 39.2 yards a punt, and 15 of his 41 punts have been inside the 20-yard line this year. In the Morehead win, he came in on FG's and PAT's in relief of Nick Glavin. It must agree with him. He has gone 16-for-16 in PAT's and 7-for-8 in field goals.
PUTTING THE SPECIAL IN SPECIAL TEAMS Even though Steve Valentino is no longer returning kicks since he moved to quarterback, Dayton leads the PFL in kickoff return average (23.5) and is sixth in punt return average (8.0). Six different players have returned kickoffs and five average more than 20 yards a return.
FIVE FLYERS RECOGNIZED BY OHIO COLLEGE FOOTBALL Ohio College Football.com selected a preseason All-Ohio NCAA FCS/NCAA II/NAIA Team, and honored five UD players on it, including DT Sean Heenan, who was tabbed their preseason defensive player of the year. Also chosen were fellow defensive tackle Kalen Hemmelgarn, linebacker Joe Ries, center Blake Saul, cornerback Matt Smyth and wide receiver Steve Valentino.
TOUCHDOWNS FOR TOTS Chamberlin has announced a new charity initiative for the upcoming season. In 2009, UD will conduct "Touchdowns for Tots" benefitting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program. For every touchdown scored by the Flyers, National City, now a part of PNC Bank will donate $50 to Toys for Tots. So far, the Flyers and National City have generated $1,450 for Toys for Tots.
TUESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS The Flyers continued "Tuesday Night Lights," the free program where pee wee football teams take the field for a practice with the University of Dayton football team, for the third straight year. For eight Tuesdays in September and October, teams that signed up in advance got a pre-practice talk from Flyer head coach Rick Chamberlin, took the field to warm up with the UD football team, and then observed practice until it was time to go home.
THE PFL COACHES HAVE SPOKEN The UD football team has been predicted to place second (tied with defending champ Jacksonville) in the annual PFL coaches poll. For the fourth consecutive season, the Pioneer Football League's coaches have tabbed San Diego as the preseason favorite, but only voted them five of 10 possible first-place votes. Dayton picked up three first place votes and Jacksonville received the other two first place votes. Following Jacksonville were Morehead State (51) and Butler (42) to round out the league's top five. Drake (40) was picked to finish sixth followed by Davidson (37), league newcomer Marist (32), Valparaiso (20) and Campbell (nine).
600 CLUB The Flyers became the 11th NCAA FCS team (and the first west of the Alleghenies) to win at least 600 games in its football history when UD beat Davidson on October 18, 2008. Here are the 12 members of the club, heading into the 2009 season. Yale (853), Harvard (798), Penn (796), Princeton (780), Fordham (738), Dartmouth (643), Lafayette (640), Delaware (633), Lehigh (625), Cornell (616), Dayton (603) and North Dakota State (601). Of the 600 Club members, Dayton has played the fewest seasons (101, nine fewer than Fordham's 110).
MORE THAN HIS FAIR SHARE UD head coach Rick Chamberlin has been a part of 310 of UD's 610 wins - 26 as a player, 268 as an assistant coach, and 16 as a head coach.
PFL POWER The Flyers' 66-19 PFL record is the best in the history of the league. UD has won nine league championships (including ties) in the 16 years the PFL has existed. The rest of the league has 11 combined. The PFL's 300th game was played last weekend.
DAYTON RULES THE "DAYTON RULE" In the 16 years since D-I schools were prohibited from playing football at the D-III level (thus creating the Pioneer Football League), UD has the best winning percentage (.792, 152-40) of the 20 schools currently playing football that were affected. Duquesne's .680 (121-57) is second, followed by Drake (.670 121-59-1), San Diego (.619, 104-64) and Albany (114-72, .613).
WELCOME MAT The UD Flyers moved to Welcome Stadium in 1974. The word "Welcome" implies hospitality, but UD has been anything but hospitable to its opponents at home, where it is 192-40-2 (.824). The "Welcome" is not a greeting, but an honor to the late Percival Welcome, longtime AD for the Dayton Public Schools.
GREAT GRAD RATES UD was one of two PFL teams and only 23 teams nationally to earn Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA for their performance in graduating their football student-athletes. Public Recognition Awards are given to those programs recognized by the NCAA as one of the teams in the top 10 percent for Academic Progress Rate in their respective sport. The teams recognized were Air Force, Brown, Bucknell, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Davidson, Dayton, Duke, Harvard, Holy Cross, Navy, New Hampshire, Penn, Princeton, Rice, Richmond, Rutgers, Stanford, Villanova, William & Mary and Yale. Only 19 of the 331 NCAA D-I schools had more teams cited than the eight for UD.
HEENAN NAMED NFF CAMPBELL TROPHY SEMIFINALST Senior defensive tackle and co-captain Sean Heenan has been named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly known as the Draddy Trophy), endowed by HealthSouth, and is a candidate for the 2009 NFF National Scholar- Athlete Awards. Heenan, a pre-med major, is one of five Pioneer Football League players who are semifinalists. The others are Drake's Sean Kitts, Marist's Terrence Turner, Morehead State's Wes McDermott and San Diego's Conrad Smith.
HITTING THE BOOKS The Dayton football program has produced 17 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans since the 2000 season. That's the most at any level of college football. Last season, four Flyers were named Academic All-American, the most in one year in school history. Named to the first team were Bart Bergfeld and Brandon Wingeier, while Sean Heenan and Patrick McCormick were selected to the second team. In the history of the Academic All-America program, UD has had 48 Academic All-Americans. Among schools currently playing Division I football, only Nebraska (97) and Notre Dame (52) have had more. Ohio State has also had 48. UD's total includes safety Brandon Cramer who was named the 2007 Division I football Academic All-American of the Year, capping a career that saw him named an Academic All-American for three straight seasons. Covering all sports, at least one University of Dayton student-athlete has been named an Academic All-American for 25 straight years.
THE BOOKS TOOK A BEATING LAST YEAR UD placed 13 Flyer football players on the 2008 University Division ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV Team, the most of any team in the country. The list included seven first-team selections which tied with Penn State's seven for the most first-team selections of any Division I program. In the district, the 13 Flyers named to the first and second teams were more than twice as many as the next team, Ohio State, who had six. UD had eight players named to the 2007 Academic All-District Team, twice as many as any other school in the district. At least 11 Flyers were nominated for Academic All-America in each of the last five years.
GOTTA PLAY SMART The University of Dayton placed a league-best 16 players on the 2008 Academic All-Pioneer Football League team. UD's 16 selections were almost triple as much as anyone else in the league. Drake and Butler each had six players selected. It was the sixth straight year UD had the most players on the PFL Academic team. Since the team's origin in 1993, nearly 30 percent (172 of 585) of the PFL All Academic selections have been Dayton Flyers. UD also had PFL-high 69 players on the PFL Academic Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or better). That was 13 better than the next-best school, and was the 15th time in the 16-year history of the league UD had the most.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK OFFENSE--Justin Watkins, 5-11, 185, Senior Wide Receiver DEFENSE--Brandon Wingeier, 6-3, 241, Senior Defensive End SPECIAL--Nick Glavin, 5-7, 160, Senior Kicker/Punter D SCOUT--Colin Monnier, 6-3, 230, Freshman Linebacker O SCOUT--Kyle Sebetic, 6-0, 165, Freshman Safety ST SCOUT--Jordan Elmore, 6-2, 210 Freshman Defensive End
PLAYER OF THE WEEK SCORECARD 4: James Vercammen; 3: Justin Watkins; 2 each: Justin Griffis, Nate Miller, Dan Fornek, Scott Horcher; 1 each: Steve Valentino, Greg Ochab, Eric Studt, Bryan Bailin, Matt Smyth, Kevin Burns, Joe Ries, Mike Morante, Brandon Wingeier, Nick Glavin.
SCOUTS OF THE WEEK SCORECARD 2: Eric Niekamp, Ben Estey, Matt Redmond, Kyle Sebetic, Jordan Elmore; 1 each: Joey Homan, Tom Hunt, Joe Janasek, Jordan Martin, Sal Savato, Zachary Splain, Jordan Boykin, Robert Strong, Victor Kaczkowski, Brannon Dunn, Matt Dorenkott, Corey Liskowski, Anthony Sadler, Nik Gillum, Connor O'Hara, Colin Monnier
FLYER PFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK Offensive Player of the Week--Steve Valentino: 9/21, 10/26, 11/2 Defensive Player of the Week--James Vercammen: 9/21 Defensive Player of the Week--Joe Ries: 10/19: Defensive Player of the Week--Brandon Wingeier: 10/26:
SUPER STAT When Jon Gruden coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl championship in 2003, he became the second UD grad to coach a Super Bowl winner. Former UD co-captain and 1993 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls (IX, X, XII & XIV) as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Noll started at center and linebacker for the Flyers and graduated from the University in 1953. Gruden played quarterback at Dayton and earned his degree in 1986. UD became only the third school to have two alumni coach Super Bowl winners. The others are San Jose State, with grads Bill Walsh (XIV, XIX, XXIII) and Dick Vermeil (XXXIV), and Arkansas with grads Jimmy Johnson (XXVII, XXVIII) and Barry Switzer (XXX). Gruden is the second-youngest coach to win a Super Bowl (supplanted by Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin in 2009), and Noll is the fifth-youngest. As a matter of fact, UD has ties to 18 Super Bowl rings. In addition to Noll's four and Gruden's one, five former members of Dayton coaching staffs own a total of 14 Super Bowl rings between them. They are the late Len Fontes (New York Giants, Super Bowl XXI), Jon's father Jim Gruden (San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowls XXII & XXIV), John McVay (49ers, XVI, XIX, XXII, & XXIV), current Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore (Steelers, XIII & XIV, Colts XLI) and George Perles (Steelers, IX, X, XII & XIV). McVay was the Flyers' head coach from 1965-72, and Fontes, Gruden, Moore and Perles were on his staff.
NO ONE DID IT BETTER IN 1989 UD's 1989 NCAA Division III national championship team was inducted as a unit into the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame at the Davidson game. The Flyers were 13-0-1 twenty years ago en route to Dayton's second national title in football. Sixty-five members of that team attended.
GAME EIGHT--DAYTON 21, SAN DIEGO 14 DAYTON -- Dayton came up one foot short in a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to Butler in a Pioneer Football League first-place face-off. UD quarterback Steve Valentino threw a 40-yard Hail Mary pass to JMichael Jonard with six seconds to go in the game, but the senior wide receiver was stopped inside the one-yard line by Jack McKenna and a host of Bulldog defenders to end the game. The one yard would not only have won the game, but it was also what Valentino needed to tie the school record for passing yards in a single game. Valentino was 29 of 44 passing for 413 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kevin Johns holds the Dayton record for single-game passing yardage with 414 at San Diego in 1996. Butler led at 31-20 with 3:22 left in the game. But the Flyers refused to quit. Valentino marched the team down the field and connected on an eight-yard touchdown pass to Nick Collins, and then hit Luke Bellman for the two-point conversation cutting Butler's lead to 31-28. Dayton got the ball back with no timeouts on their own 16 with 1:09 to play. Three complete passes, a Dan Jacob run and a heads-up play by Dan Jacob to fall on a Valentino fumble put the ball at the Butler 41-yard line, setting the stage for the game's final and deciding play. Valentino ended the day 413 yards of passing, completing 29 of 44 with two picks and two touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 44 yards. Watkins caught seven passes for 163 yards and one touchdown, while Jonard and Collins each caught seven passes for 98 and 82 yards respectively. Collins also added a touchdown. Defensively, Dayton was led by James Vercammen who had a game-high 14 tackles. Kevin Burns added nine hits, and Brandon Wingeier had seven tackles (4 solo) 1.4 sacks, two tackles for a loss, one pass batted down and one QB hurry.
MAYBE SWITCH FROM THE DECAFFINATED BRAND? The Flyers are being outscored 35-29 in the first quarter this season. That's the only quarter they are being outscored. The Flyers trailed 7-0 after the opponent's first possession in the first four wins of the year. On the other side of the coin, UD's third quarters are nearly perfect, outscoring the opponents 66-9 coming out of halftime.
UP NEXT UD's next home game is November 21 against Marist. That will be Senior Day, and the Lt. Andy Zulli Award will be presented at halftime. Game time is 1 p.m. ET.