This Ross Smith fourth-quarter catch kept a drive alive for the Flyers on Saturday.
PDF Game Notes
The University of Dayton football team will head to Indianapolis Saturday to take on the Butler Bulldogs in week #2 of the Pioneer Football League season. Game time is 1:00 p.m. ET.
UD, 1-3 overall, is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 21-17 loss at home to Jacksonville. Dayton had scored the go-ahead touchdown 1:39 to go, but JU returned the ensuing squib kickoff 85 yards for the win. Only one of the Dolphins’ TD’s were scored by the offense.
Butler defeated Campbell at home 35-14, rolling up 452 yards in total offense and averaging 7.9 yards per play. The Bulldogs are 2-2 on the year.
The Flyers have claimed 10 PFL titles (outright or shared) in the league’s first 19 seasons. UD’s 79-24 PFL record is the best in the history of the conference.
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. Harris gained 106 yards in the only game he has been healthy in this year (Robert Morris).
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 has not been shut out in an NCAA-record 401 straight games, the best such active string in all of college football. The last team to shut out UD was Marshall, 9-0, on Oct. 16, 1976.
The Butler series is the longest current series for UD. This will be the 38th meeting between the two schools. Dayton leads 26-10-1 and has won 14 of the last 17 contests.
Last year in Dayton on Oct. 1, Butler used a pair of fourth-quarter field goals, the last one with 1:31 to go, to edge the Flyers 29-27. Trae Heeter was the offensive star for the ‘Dogs. He carried the ball 25 times for 142 yards and caught five passes for 61 yards. Flyer defensive end Pat Dowd blocked a punt and returned it for a 58-yard TD that gave UD the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Flyers won the last game in the series played in the Butler Bowl 33-13 on Oct. 16, 2010. Dayton has won its last two games at Butler.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Butler comes into the game with most potent rushing attack in the PFL (172.5 ypg), led by junior Trae Heeter’s league-leading 100.0 yards per game. Heeter ran for a career-high 204 yards in last Saturday’s Campbell win.
Junior quarterback Matt Lancaster, a transfer from Illinois State, has run for five touchdowns and thrown for six more in his first four games as a Bulldog. He is fourth in the PFL in rushing (53.5, top QB) and third in passing efficiency (139.3, 75-121, .62.0%, 907 yards).
Senior linebacker Jordan Ridley has 43 tackles this season, which is sixth in the PFL. Three of sophomore defensive tackle Glen Somers’ 10 tackles this year are sacks.
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 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 329 of UD’s 629 wins – 26 as a player, 268 as an assistant coach, and 35 as a head coach. He has also been a part of 421 of UD’s 1,006 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
Thirteen Flyers own double-digit start totals. Cornerbacks Matt Pfleger and Kyle Sebetic have started 23 and 22 games, respectively. DT Zach Weber has 19, DT Phil DeBoer, OG Owen Elger, WR Branden Johnson and C Bill Petraiuolo have 15. QB Will Bardo, WR Jordan Boykin and S Ben Welsh have 14. OT Tom Corcoran has 13, LB Colin Monnier has 12 and CB/Flyer Howard Savage 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. He was named PFL co-Offensive Player of the Week after gaining 106 yards on 19 carries with two TD’s in the Robert Morris win. Harris, who missed six straight quarters with a knee injury, gained six yards in the first quarter, 19 in the second, 30 in the third and 50 in the fourth. He missed the Jacksonville game due to injury and is currently not on the depth chart. Last year, 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 149 yards to be the 22nd member of UD’s 1,500 yard club.
Taylor Harris’s 144 career points tie him for 25th 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.
HAND IT TO BRANDEN
Junior Branden Johnson has 20 catches for 201 yards (10.1 avg). The next three Flyer receivers have 19 combined. Johnson 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. He also had seven catches vs. Jacksonville, for 53 yards. Last year, Johnson had five catches for 100 yards at Jacksonville.
SPREAD IT AROUND
Aside from Branden Johnson, the next five Dayton pass catchers have taken turns stepping up. Five of Nik Gillum’s seven catches this season came in the Jacksonville (for 50 yards). Five of Jordan Boykin’s six came vs. JU (also for 50 yards). Four of Ross Smith’s six were in the Robert Morris win (for 54 yards). Four of Gabe Macis’ five (59 yds) were at Duquesne. And four of Robert Strong’s five (12 yds) were at Duquesne. Gary Hunter has four receptions over three games played and leads the team in yards per catch (22.8 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.
Running back Dan Jacob leads the Flyers in rushing this season with 192 yards. Robert Washington leads in yards per carry (8.3).
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.
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 also had 11 tackles vs. Jacksonville with two TFL. He is leads the team in hits (36) and tackles behind the line (6.0).
Junior cornerback/dime back Howard Savage has been known for the quality of his hits over the first two years of his career, but now it is also the quantity that he can be happy with. Savage had four weekly “Hammer Hit” awards as a freshman and sophomore. He has one this season. He is second for UD in tackles (32) and pass breakups (4), and leads in interceptions (2). 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. In the RMU win, he had nine tackles, an interception and three PBU’s. He is tied for first in the PFL with two interceptions.
Flyer cornerbacks Matt Pfleger and Kyle Sebetic have a combined 44 starts between them. Both have 22. 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. He had an interception vs. RMU. Sebetic had 31 solo tackles in nine games, and 40 total in 2011. This season, Sebetic has 24 tackles (3rd on the team), with 19 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. Sebetic is tied for second in the PFL in passes defensed. Sebetic is currently out with an injury.
Here’s the good news: safety Ben Welsh has started every game he has played at a defensive position at UD. Here’s the bad news: Welsh is a redshirt senior, and that total is just 14 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, with 17 hits this season. He also has three TFL and a sack. He has earned the Hammer Hit of the Week award two straight weeks (RMU & JU).
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 (30) and second in TFL (3.5).
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 at least two more weeks.
Dayton has nine sacks as a team this season, and nine different Flyer defenders have been credited with them. UD’s 2.25 sacks per game is third in the PFL (tied with Butler). 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 in 2011.
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. He is currently out with an injury.
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.
Kyle Pignatiello was named PFL Special Teams Player of the Week after the Robert Morris win. He punted eight times for a 39.8 yard-per-punt average in the game. Three of his punts were over 40 yards and four of them were inside the 20. For the year, Pignatiello is averaging 37.5 yards a punt in 31 kicks. Thirteen of his punts have been inside the 20 (with no touchbacks), and seven have been fair caught. Pignatiello averaged 41.0 yards on seven punts against Jacksonville, with a career-long 56.
PUTTING THE SPECIAL IN SPECIAL TEAMS
Dayton players were named PFL Special Teams Player of the Week two of the first three weeks of the year. Gary Hunter for his 77-yard punt return at Illinois State and punter Kyle Pignatiello for Robert Morris.
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 this year. 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
Twice: Colin Monnier, Kyle Pignatiello; Once: Austin Alber, Owen Elger, Taylor Harris, Gary Hunter, Dan Jacob, Bill Petraiuolo, Howard Savage, Kyle Sebetic
SCOUTS OF THE WEEK SCORECARD
Twice: Chris Hagan, Chuck Zavarella; Ryan Aske, Joe Blume, Luke Bonifas, Nick Kaczkowski, Michael Scott, Cameron Stubbs, Owen Williams, Tommy Zervas (Note Zervas won four scout team awards in 2011)
PFL PLAYER OF THE WEEK SCORECARD
Gary Hunter (Special Teams, 9/1), Taylor Harris (Offensive, 9/15), Howard Savage (Defensive 9/15), Kyle Pignatiello (Special Teams, 9/15)
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 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’ 79-24 PFL record is the best in the history of the league. Dayton has won 10 (shared or outright) league championships.
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 202-43-2 (.822). The “Welcome” is not a greeting, but an honor to the late Percival Welcome, longtime AD for the Dayton Public Schools.
LAST TIME OUT -- JACKSONVILLE 21, DAYTON 17
Dayton dropped 21-17 heartbreaker to Jacksonville on a windy afternoon at Welcome Stadium. The Flyers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:39 remaining in the contest on a Ross Smith touchdown catch from Will Bardo. That touchdown made the score 17-14 in favor of UD, but Jacksonville’s Colby Walden returned the ensuing kick-off for the game-winning touchdown. The Flyers tried to squib the kick, in order to prevent a big return, but Walden picked up a high bounce, broke at least three Dayton tackles and returned the kick 85 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
Dayton quarterback Will Bardo also threw for 192 yards as he completed 22-of-48 passes for one touchdown and one interception. Through the first three quarters, Bardo struggled through the air as heavy winds played a major factor. Bardo completed just 9-of-25 passes for 52 yards through the first three quarters, but he heated up in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Bardo completed 13-of-23 passes for 140 yards and the touchdown.
Dayton outgained Jacksonville 388-to-252 in total yards, but the Jacksonville defense and their special teams were the difference in the game. Jacksonville had a touchdown each from its offense, defense, and special teams.
The Flyer defense forced two turnovers and held the Dolphins to just 3-of-13 on third down conversions and only 11 total first downs. Senior linebacker Colin Monnier led the Flyer defense with 11 total tackles, two of them in the JU backfield. Senior nickelback Joe Janasek contributed with seven tackles, two of them were tackles for loss. Junior Howard Savage and redshirt freshman Devon Morgan each had fumble recoveries.
Robert Washington was UD’s top ground gainer, getting 75 yards on five carries. Dan Jacob carried the ball 19 times for 74 yards. Branden Johnson caught seven passes for 53 yards. Jordan Boykin and Nik Gillum each had five receptions for 50 yards.
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 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 (Bill Walsh and Dick Vermeil), Arkansas (Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer), and Eastern Illinois (Mike Shanahan and Sean Payton).
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 include current Saints QB coach Joe Lombardi (XLIV).
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-Pat AFB.
UD plays at Davidson next Saturday. Butler goes to Valparaiso.