Branden Johnson caught a career-high seven passes at Duquesne.
PDF Game Notes
After a pair of tough road losses, the University of Dayton football team will make its home debut on Saturday against Robert Morris. Game time at Welcome Stadium is 1:00 p.m. ET.
Both teams are looking to dent the win column for the first time in 2012. In both cases, it’s as much a product of the schedule as much as anything. Both opened against national championship contenders (Illinois State 56-14 for UD and North Dakota State 52-0 for Robert Morris), and then fell to NEC powerhouses last week. Dayton lost at Duquesne 17-7, while RMU was beaten by Albany in the Colonials’ home opener 35-10.
This is the first time UD has opened a season with two straight road games since 1978.
Head Coach Rick Chamberlin is back for his fifth season at the helm for the Flyers. He has guided UD football to a career record of 34-12, going 9-3 in 2008, 9-2 in 2009, 10-1 in 2010 and 6-5 last year.
Dayton returns 13 starters (six offense, six defense, one specialist) from last season.
Leading the returnees is redshirt senior running back Taylor Harris. Harris was First Team All-Pioneer Football League and UD’s Most Valuable Player in 2011. Harris gained 899 yards on 132 carries and scored nine touchdowns. He was the second-leading rusher in the PFL, and his 6.8 yards-per-carry led the league. He is currently sidelined with a knee injury.
Cornerback Matt Pfleger and linebacker Colin Monnier headline the defense. Harris, Pfleger and Monnier are UD’s 2012 team captains.
GOOD NEWS WORTH REPEATING
The Flyers entered the season with the second-best winning percentage (.780, 103-29) in FCS football since 2000 AND have produced the most football Academic All-Americans (22) at any level of competition in the same time frame. The Top Five in winning percentage are Montana (.820), Dayton (.780), Harvard (.773), Appalachian State (.745) and San Diego (.684).
UD leads the series with RMU 12-2, and has won the last nine meetings. The last two games in the series came in the season opener for both teams. Last year the Flyers pulled out a hard-fought 19-13 win at Robert Morris. Will Bardo, playing in his first game, let alone his first start, was 14 of 24 for 180 yards and two TD’s.
The winning effort was led by the Dayton defensive front seven. Facing an offensive line that returned four starters from Robert Morris’ 2010 playoff team, the Flyers had eight sacks, two QB hurries and forced four holding penalties.
SCOUTING THE COLONIALS
Robert Morris returns 15 starters from last season, including senior quarterback Jeff Sinclair, a three-and-a-half year starter who will be seeing his first action of 2012. Sinclair was suspended for the first two games of the season. An all-conference QB who led RMU to the FCS playoffs in 2010, Sinclair completed 116 of 232 passes for 1,373 yards and 11 TD’s last year. He also ran for six of the Colonials’ 10 rushing touchdowns.
Head coach Joe Walton is the only football coach RMU has ever had, starting the program in 1994. This will be Walton’s last visit to Welcome Stadium as he has announced he will step down after the 2013 season.
UD has not been shut out in a school-record 399 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.
THE MAN AT THE TOP
Head coach Rick Chamberlin guided UD to 34 wins in his first four seasons, going 9-3, 9-2, 10-1 and 6-5 last year. Dayton has won a share of PFL championships in two of his first three years, and missed the third by just five points at Jacksonville in the last game of 2008.
MORE THAN HIS FAIR SHARE
Rick Chamberlin has been a part of 328 of UD’s 628 wins – 26 as a player, 268 as an assistant coach, and 34 as a head coach. He has also been a part of 419 of UD’s 1,004 games.
Running back Taylor Harris, cornerback Matt Pfleger and linebacker Colin Monnier are the 2012 Flyer captains. Harris and Pfleger are fifth-year seniors, while Monnier is in his fourth year in the program.
LONG TIME STARTERS
Eight Flyers own double-digit start totals. Cornerback Matt Pfleger has started 22 games. At the other corner, Kyle Sebetic has 21 starts. DT Zach Weber has 16, DT Phil DeBoer, OG Owen Elger, WR Branden Johnson and C Bill Petraiuolo have 13. QB Will Bardo and WR Jordan Boykin have 12. OT Tom Corcoran has 11 and LB Colin Monnier has 10.
At the other end of the spectrum are the seven UD players who made their first start in the Illinois State game: OG Dave Allen, DE Pat Dowd, WR Nik Gillum, WR Gary Hunter, Flyer Joe Janasek, WR Robert Strong and LB Sean Sward.
TEAR UP THE TURF, TAYLOR
Redshirt senior co-captain and RB Taylor Harris was First Team All-PFL and UD’s MVP 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. He was the second-leading rusher in the PFL, and his 6.8 yards-per-carry led the league. Harris’ 899 yards were the most for a Flyer since Cliff Sachini had 1,042 in 2003. Harris had four games of at least 100 yards in 2011. He needs 255 yards to be the 22nd member of UD’s 1,500 yard club. His career 5.87 yard-per-carry average is fifth at UD. He carried the ball six times (three yards) before injuring his knee at Illinois State. He has not yet returned to the lineup.
Taylor Harris’s 132 career points tie him for 30th in career scoring at Dayton. He has led UD in touchdowns the last two seasons (13 in 2010 and 9 in 2011). He was second in the PFL in 2010.
When Taylor Harris ran for 216 yards at Morehead State on Oct. 22, 2011, it was the most yards by a Dayton runner since Jermaine Bailey ran for 251 against Drake in 2000. It was also the first time any PFL runner gained 200 since Jacksonville’s Rudell Small had 216 in 2008.
HARRIS TO THE HOUSE
Taylor Harris’ 83-yard touchdown run against Duquesne on Sept. 10, 2011 was the third-longest in Dayton history, and the longest at Welcome Stadium. Leroy Ka-Ne (the Hawai’ian Hyphen) holds the record of 94 yards vs. Scranton in 1949 at Baujan Field, and J.P. Ragon scampered 85 yards at Morehead State in 1997.
WHERE THERE IS A WILL
Will Bardo threw for a career-high 232 yards at Duquesne, completing 21 of 42 passes. He took over at quarterback for Dayton in as a redshirt freshman in 2011, following two-time PFL Offensive Player of the Year Steve Valentino. A dual threat, he was the top rushing quarterback in the PFL (491 yards, the next closest had 289) and was 10th in the league in rushing. He passed for another 1,206 yards (106 of 229, .463, 13 TD, 6 int) in his first season. Over his last four games, he was 49 of 97 passing (.505) for 583 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. He threw for career-highs in yardage in each of his last two games of 2011. At Valparaiso in week #9, Bardo was 15 of 22 passing for 200 yards and two TD’s, along with running for 58 yards and a TD. He was PFL co-Offensive Player of the Week. Against San Diego in week #10, he was 20 of 40 for 225 yards and three TD’s. He missed the season finale at Drake with an injury.
OUT OF THE BULLPEN
Backup QB’s Jake Voigt and Luke Johnson are a combined one-for-five passing at the collegiate level. All are by Voigt, a redshirt sophomore who attempted three passes in mop-up duty last season, while Johnson is a redshirt freshman.
GOOD HANDS PEOPLE
Junior Branden Johnson has 11 catches for 135 yards for a 12.3 yards per catch. He was the second-leading Flyer receiver last year (25 catches for a team-high 15.9 yards per catch average). At Illinois State, Johnson caught four passes for 37 yards, including a 17-yard TD. He came back at Duquesne with a career-high seven catches for 98 yards. Last year, Johnson had five catches for 100 yards at Jacksonville. Gabe Macis and Robert Strong are next on the team with four catches. Macis’ four grabs were all at Duquesne for 58 yards. Gary Hunter has three receptions for 87 yards (29.0 avg.).
OLD HABITS ARE HARD TO BREAK
Flyer senior Robert Strong moved from defensive back to slot receiver this season, but he was named the winner of the “Hammer Hit” award in the season opener at Illinois State.
TO SERVE AND PROTECT
UD returns three starters on the offensive line from a year ago. Center Bill Petraiuolo and OG Owen Elger both started all 11 games in 2011, while OT Tom Corcoran started all nine games he played in last year. Elger (ISU) and Petraiuolo (Duquesne) were UD’s first two offensive players of the week this season.
Running back Dan Jacob and quarterback Will Bardo have gained 158 of the Flyers’ 162 yards on the ground. Jacob has 88 yards on 24 carries (3.7), while Bardo has 70 on 20 (3.5 avg.)
Senior co-captain and LB 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. At Illinois State, Monnier was the game’s top tackler. He had 12 hits, including two in the backfield. He leads UD in hits (20) and tackles behind the line (3.5).
Flyer cornerbacks have a combined 43 starts between them. Matt Pfleger has started 22 games, and Kyle Sebetic 21. Pfleger is a three-year starter at cornerback for the Flyers, after beginning his career as a wide receiver. Last year he had 43 hits (seventh on the team), three interceptions (second) and six passes batted away (tied for first) with one fumble recovery and one fumble forced. Sebetic had 31 solo tackles in nine games, and 40 total. This season, Sebetic has 19 tackles (2nd on the team), with 15 solos (leads UD) and five passes broken up (also leads team). At Illinois State, Sebetic had 10 tackles (seven solo) and two passes broken up. At Duquesne, he added nine hits (eight solo) and batted three passes away.
DEAL WITH DUNN
Senior DT Brannon Dunn was second on the team and fifth in the PFL in sacks (8) despite only starting seven games in 2011. He had a defensive lineman’s “helmet trick” at Jacksonville, getting a sack, forcing a fumble and recovering the fumble on the same play. Dunn forced three fumbles last season. At Illinois State, Dunn carried the ball for the first time in his career when he made the most of an errant punt snap and ran three yards for a first down on the game’s first possession. Dunn came down with appendicitis on the Duquesne trip, and had his appendix removed during the game at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. He is expected to be out three more weeks.
Here’s the good news: safety Ben Welsh has started every game he has played a defensive position at UD. Here’s the bad news: Welsh is a redshirt senior, and that total is just 10 games. A starter for the first five games of 2009, injuries (sprained knee, torn achilles and torn pectoral muscle) have limited him to be able to play in four of the last 28 games UD has played (and all of them came last year). In the four starts last year, he had 24 tackles, one interception, two pass break ups, one fumble forced, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick. Welsh is back in the starting lineup at safety this season. He has 12 hits this season.
Junior cornerback/dime back Howard Savage has been known for the quality of his hits over the first two years of his career, but in the opener at Illinois State it was the quantity that he could be happy with. Savage had four weekly “Hammer Hit” awards as a freshman and sophomore. He had 10 tackles (six solo) and a pass break up at ISU. He had seven more hits and his first career interception at Duquesne.
Senior Joe Janasek plays the hybrid safety/linebacker position known in the Dayton defensive schemes known as “Flyer.” A first-year starter, Janasek is third on the team in tackles (18).
SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER
Junior Gary Hunter gained 140 yards in all-purpose yardage in the season opener at Illinois State, with a 77-yard punt return and a 47-yard pass reception taking up the bulk of it. The 140 all-purpose yards were more than half of UD’s 275 in the game. He was named PFL Special Teams Player of the Week. Hunter was fifth in the PFL in kickoff returns last year (21.5 yards per return). He led the PFL and was ranked eighth in FCS football in kickoff return average (28.2) as a freshman in 2010. After playing corner as a freshman, Hunter moved to the offensive side of the ball and is a starting wide receiver.
HUNTER THE HISTORY MAKER
Gary Hunter is believed to be only the second Flyer football player to have three special teams touchdowns in his career (available statistics are incomplete prior to 1950). Kelvin Kirk (the original Mr. Irrelevant) had three from 1974-77. Hunter had what is believed to be the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a freshman in the history of University of Dayton football when he had an 82-yard scamper against Valparaiso. He has returned a kickoff for a TD in both of his first two seasons at Dayton. The 77-yard punt return was the longest at Dayton since Ryan Wrobleski returned one 86 yards vs. Valparaiso in 2005.
The beginning and end of the Dayton kicking game is in the hands (and feet) of players doing it for the first time in a Dayton uniform. Long snapper Robert Delaney, short snapper Zach Weber, holder Jake Voigt, placekicker Pat Sankovic and punter Kyle Pignatiello are each taking on those roles from now graduated seniors. But only freshman Delaney is a “rookie.” Weber is a redshirt senior who has been in the rotation at DT for three years. Voigt is a redshirt sophomore who is also UD’s backup quarterback. Sankovic is also a fifth-year senior, while Pignatiello is in his third year in the program.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK SCORECARD
Owen Elger, Gary Hunter, Colin Monnier, Bill Petraiuolo, Kyle Pignatiello, Kyle Sebetic
SCOUTS OF THE WEEK SCORECARD
Chris Hagan (twice), Chuck Zavarella (twice), Nick Kaczkowski, Tommy Zervas (Note: Zervas also had four Scout Awards in 2011)
PFL PLAYER OF THE WEEK SCORECARD
Gary Hunter (Special Teams, 9/1)
Dayton was third in FCS football in sacks (and first in the PFL) in 2011, averaging 3.7 sacks a game. Eleven different Flyers got into the sack act, led by now-graduated Devon Langhorst’s 11.5. UD also had 23 QB hurries.
LET’S TALK CAMPBELL TROPHY
Dayton has had at least a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy, the major award of the NFF’s Scholar-Athlete Award program (the academic Heisman if you will) for six straight years. Among Division I schools, the Flyers are one of 12 institutions with a semifinalist in the last six years. The others are Austin Peay, Bucknell, Columbia, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Rutgers, South Dakota State, Texas, Wisconsin and Youngstown State.
Seven current members of the Flyer football team have had relatives who also played for UD, including three players whose fathers played -- Austen Alber (Tim, 1986-88), Matt Dorenkott (Brian, 1976-78) and Kyle Pignatiello (Mike, 1980-82).
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 15 members of the club, heading into the 2012 season. Yale (869), Harvard (821), Penn (818), Princeton (786), Fordham (749), Delaware (656), Dartmouth (656), Lafayette (654), Lehigh (650), Dayton (628), North Dakota State (627), Cornell (625), Northern Iowa (620), Colgate (608) and Holy Cross (604). Of the 600 Club members, Dayton has played the fewest seasons (104, nine fewer than Northern Iowa’s 113). UD moved into the Top 10 in 2010. The Flyers’ .641 all-time winning percentage is fourth among the “600 club” and eighth all-time. The top ten going into 2012 consists of is Grambling (.706), Yale (.705), Harvard (.676), Florida A&M (.667), Princeton (.663), Tennessee State (.654), Georgia Southern (.645), Dayton (.641), Appalachian State (.640) and Penn (.634).
The Pioneer Football League is entering its 20th season. The original (and now the only) Division I strictly need-based football league began with charter members Butler, Dayton, Drake, Evansville, San Diego and Valparaiso. Current members Butler, Campbell, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Jacksonville, Marist, Morehead State, San Diego, and Valparaiso will be joined in 2013 by Mercer and Stetson. The Flyers’ 79-23 PFL record is the best in the history of the league.
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 201-43-2 (.821). The “Welcome” is not a greeting, but an honor to the late Percival Welcome, longtime AD for the Dayton Public Schools.
TUESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
For the sixth consecutive year, the Flyers are continuing “Tuesday Night Lights”, the free program where pee wee football teams take the field for a practice with the University of Dayton football players. For eight Tuesdays beginning September 4, teams that sign up in advance will get a pre-practice talk from Chamberlin, take the field to warm up with the UD football team, and then observe practice until their evening is over at 8:15 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT -- DUQUESNE 17, DAYTON 7
Dayton squandered too many opportunities in the first three quarters and Duquesne took advantage in the fourth, as the Dukes came from behind to defeat Dayton 17-7 on Sept. 1 in Pittsburgh.
UD led 7-3 and had outgained Duquesne 274-171 after three quarters, but the Flyers also missed out on numerous opportunities to put the game away. UD had a 30-yard touchdown pass called back due to a late personal foul call that in the line, missed two field goals and started three other drives near midfield that only resulted in punts.
That would come back to bite the Flyers as Duquesne offensive stars Larry McCoy and Sean Patterson took over in the fourth quarter. Patterson completed five passes in as many attempts on a 77-yard scoring drive to put the Dukes ahead 10-7 with 10:01 left in the game, and then McCoy scored the backbreaker on a seven-yard run with 3:03 left.
Duquesne gained over half its 348 yards in total offense in the fourth quarter. Patterson was six-for-six for 76 yards, while McCoy gained 68 of his game-high 124 yards in the final period. In four years against UD, McCoy had four 100-yard games.
Dayton’s statistical leader was Will Bardo, who completed 21 of 42 passes for a career-high 232 yards. He also ran 15 times for 50 yards and scored UD’s touchdown. Dan Jacob gained 58 yards on 17 carries to lead the Flyers in rushing. At the receiving end of things, Branden Johnson caught a career-best seven passes for 98 yards. Gabe Macis added four receptions for 59 yards.
Cornerback Kyle Sebetic and Flyer Joe Janasek led the Dayton defense with nine tackles. Sebetic had eight solo hits and batted away three passes. Linebacker Colin Monnier added eight with a sack. Safety Ben Welsh and cornerback Howard Savage both had seven tackles, and Savage had his first career interception.
UD is 0-2 for the first time since 1999. Duquesne, who was picked to finish second in the Northeast Conference, is 1-1 on the year.
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 (now there are four) 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), Arkansas with grads Jimmy Johnson (XXVII, XXVIII) and Barry Switzer (XXX), and Eastern Illinois with Mike Shanahan (XXXII, XXXIII) and Sean Payton (XLIV).
At the time of their wins, Gruden was the second-youngest coach to win a Super Bowl and Noll was the fifth-youngest. As a matter of fact, UD has ties to 19 Super Bowl rings. In addition to Noll’s four and Gruden’s one, six 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), current Saints QB coach Joe Lombardi (XLIV), 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, Jim Gruden, Moore and Perles were on his staff. Lombardi, an Air Force Academy grad and the grandson of Vince Lombardi, began his coaching career at Dayton. He coached for three seasons on Mike Kelly’s staff while stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
UD open Pioneer Football League play by hosting Jacksonville on Saturday, Sept. 22. Game time is 1:00 p.m. ET. Robert Morris is off next week, and will play Lafayette at home on Sept. 29.