DAYTON, Ohio –
Red prevailed 14-0 over White in the University of Dayton’s annual Spring Football Game Sunday at Welcome Stadium.
“I really think our wide receivers have been the biggest surprise this spring,” said UD Head Coach Rick Chamberlin. “Today they made some fantastic catches on balls that weren’t thrown great.”
Chamberlin joined Flyer play-by-play announcer Larry Hansgen in the booth to provide commentary during the game on Newstalk 1290 WHIO Radio.
Before the game, the Flyers announced their 2012 captains – redshirt senior running back Taylor Harris, senior linebacker Colin Monnier, redshirt senior cornerback Matt Pfleger and redshirt senior safety Ben Welsh.
“These are great selections for captains,” said Chamberlin. “Colin is that fiery player on defense that can pump up the guys. Taylor is our big-play guy. Matt is a quiet leader but the guys respect him. Ben has suffered some injuries but has never let that stop him from being a leader.”
Taylor Harris was First Team All-Pioneer Football League and UD’s Most Valuable Player in 2011. Despite missing the last game-and-a-half with a hamstring injury, Harris gained 899 yards on 132 carries and scored nine touchdowns. The Highland High School graduate was the second-leading rusher in the PFL, and his 6.8 yards-per-carry led the league. Harris’ 899 yards were the most by a UD runner since Cliff Sachini gained 1,042 yards in 2003.
Colin Monnier earned UD’s Most Improved Player Award last season. In his first college action after not playing in 2009 or 2010, Monnier played in all 11 games and was second on the team in tackles (64) and tackles for loss (9). He also filled the most stat categories of any Dayton defender with two sacks, two interceptions, two passes broken up, and a QB hurry and a fumble forced.
Matt Pfleger has started every game for the last two years at cornerback for the Flyers, after beginning his career as a wide receiver. In 2010, he led the team in interceptions with four. He also led the team in pass breakups with 10 and ranked sixth on the team in tackles with 48. Last year, even though teams were playing away from him, he had 43 hits (seventh), three interceptions (second) and six passes batted away (tied for first) with one fumble recovery and one fumble forced.
Ben Welsh’s selection as captain is a testament to the amount of respect his teammates have for him. A starter for the first five games of 2009, injuries have limited him to be able to play in four of the last 28 games UD has played. In four starts last year, he had 24 tackles, one interception, two pass break ups, one fumble forced, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
The game started off in a hurry as freshman Colin McManamon returned the opening kickoff 91 yards to the end zone (due to spring scrimmage scoring the kickoff TD was not used in the tally).
Red was up 7-0 after the first quarter with the help of a seven-yard TD pass from redshirt freshman Jake Voigt to sophomore Robert Strong with 4:40 to play.
Fresman Luke Johnson converted a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior Nik Gillum with 4:01 to play in the half to give Red a 14-0 lead. Senior Pat Sankovic drilled both PATs.
Red’s sophomore Howard Savage picked off a Will Bardo pass on White’s next possession. Freshman linebacker Tommy Zervas scooped up a fumble by Johnson and rumbled into Red territory but the White team was unable to take advantage with a score before the half.
Sankovic attempted a 49-yard field goal at the 5:17 mark of the third quarter and had the distance but the attempt was just wide left.
Johnson completed 15-of-26 pass attempts while Voigt was 6-of-9 passing.
After the game concluded, the newest Flyers, approximately 25 UD signees, joined their new teammates on the field and were paired up with their “Big Brothers,” the veterans who will shepherd them through their first few weeks of Flyer football.