This punt return by Ben Welsh set up UD's first TD.
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DAVIDSON, N.C. -- The University of Dayton football team jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead and cleared the bench in the second half en route to a 38-3 win at Davidson on Saturday. Redshirt freshman running back Connor Kacsor ran for 135 yards (58 in the first half, 77 in the second) and two touchdowns in 11 attempts to lead the Flyers.
Kacsor became just the second Dayton freshman to run for 100 yards in a game. Former Flyer quarterback Kelly Spiker, who was also a redshirt freshman at the time, ran for 142 yards against Morehead State and 157 versus Butler in 2000. Kacsor came into the day with just two carries for minus one yard in a brief appearance in the Duquesne game.
UD set the tone early, with backup DB Danny Leach knifing in on kickoff coverage to tackle the Wildcat returner on his own seven-yard line. The Dayton defense forced the first of five three-and-outs on the day, and a 31-yard Ben Welch punt return put the Flyer offense just 32 yards away from pay dirt.
Three plays later, UD had a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Robert Washington gained three yards, QB Will Bardo hit Nik Gillum for 20 and Washington ran it in from the nine.
Later in the first quarter, backup quarterback Jake Voigt came in for the first prime action of his career and engineered at 10-play, 51-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard Pat Sankovic field goal.
Dayton scored a pair of touchdowns the next two times it had the ball. Kacsor accounted for all but two yards of a drive that began on its own 45, scoring his first college TD on a 30-yard run. Bardo returned to the game and accounted for 91 yards in total offense. He took the biggest chunk on the first play, a 53-yard run. He then threw a 19-yard pass to Gillum, an 11-yarder to Ross Smith, and then on fourth-and-four, an eight-yard TD pass to Gillum.
The Dayton defense closed out the scoring on the last play of the half when defensive end Pat Dowd sacked the Davidson quarterback and forced a fumble. The other end, Devon Morgan, picked it up and ran 66 yards to send the Flyers to the locker room with a 31-0 halftime advantage.
Davidson's only sustained drive of the day (14 plays, 81 yards) resulted in a 29-yard field goal, but UD responded with its only score of the second half. A 37-yard Matt Bianco kickoff return gave the Flyers good field position that helped lead to Kacsor's second touchdown, a 38-yard run with 2:08 left in the third.
From there Dayton did two things -- run the ball and substitute freely. Sixteen of UD's final 18 plays were on the ground, giving the Flyers the ball for more than 11 minutes in the fourth quarter. And by the end of the game, the only three players who did not play (out of 56 in uniform) were one held out due to injury, and two others who are eligible to redshirt their freshman seasons.
The Flyers rolled up a season-high 289 yards on the ground, and averaged 6.3 yards a carry. In addition to Kacsor's 135, Bardo carried the ball four times for 65 yards. Grant Huckestein ran for 40 yards, Washington had 29 and Voigt added 20.
Dayton quarterbacks were a combined 11 for18 for 119 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Voigt was six-for-nine for 54 yards, Bardo was four-for-eight for 58, and Luke Johnson completed his FIRST college pass for seven yards. Gillum led UD's receivers with four catches for 52 yards and the TD.
Defensively, safety Ben Welsh led the Flyers with six tackles. Austen Alber, Pat Dowd, Joe Janasek, Colin Monnier and Matt Pfleger all had four hits. Dowd also had the game’s only sack and forced fumble. Alber, Monnier and Pfleger’s tackles were all solos. Morgan and Zach Elias both recovered fumbles, with Morgan returning his 66 yards for a TD.
On special teams, punter Kyle Pignatiello averaged 40.8 yards per punt on five kicks. Two were inside the 20-yard line, none found the end zone, and only one was returned for just three yards. Welsh averaged 15.0 yards on three punt returns.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Flyers who are now 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Pioneer Football League. Davidson fell to 0-5 and 0-2.
After being on the road for four of the first six weeks of the year, Dayton is home for three of the next four beginning with Morehead State on Saturday, Oct. 13. Game time at Welcome Stadium will be 1:00 p.m. ET.