Taylor Harris gained the most yards for a UD runner in 11 seasons with 216 in the MSU win.
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MOREHEAD, KY --The University of Dayton football team got big performances from its big performers, and withstood a 21-point fourth quarter by Morehead State to defeat MSU 30-28 Saturday in Morehead, Ky.
Senior running back Taylor Harris ran the ball 28 times for 216 yards for the Flyers. It was the first time a Dayton runner ran for 200 yards or more since Jermaine Bailey did it against Drake in the 2000 season. Senior end Devon Langhorst was UD’s top tackler with 13 hits. Langhorst came into the game leading Dayton in tackles and sacks, and he added two more sacks to give him 10.5 on the year.
The Flyers led at halftime 13-7 thanks to two Nate Miller field goals and a heads up play on a punt return by UD senior Tyler Hujik. A poor snap forced the Morehead punter to hurry the punt and it went off the side of his foot. It was bouncing near the Morehead sideline where two Morehead players touched it but did not control it.
Hujik knifed in and picked up the live ball and ran 32 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Dayton scored the only points in the third quarter when the Flyers ran the ball 11 straight times before Will Bardo hit Jordan Boykin for a six-yard pass to put UD up 20-7.
Against a lot of teams this would have been a comfortable lead, but against the Pioneer Football League’s highest-scoring offense, it wasn’t going to be enough. The Eagles found another gear, gaining 243 of their 349 yards of the day in the final 18:26 of the game. MSU scored TD’s on three drives of 70+ yards, but the Flyers answered after each score.
After MSU scored to make it 20-14, Miller kicked his third field goal to push UD back up nine, 23-14 with 5:58 left. Morehead scored just 36 seconds later to cut it to 23-21. Dayton responded with a six-play, 68-yard drive. On fourth-and-five from the 26, Bardo rolled left and then threw back right to Branden Johnson, who broke a tackle and ran down the sideline for the touchdown that made the score 30-21 with 2:25 remaining.
That was just enough as MSU scored again with 1:07 on the clock, making it a two-point game, 30-28.
Harris recovered the onside kick, and ran the first nine yards of Dayton’s final possession. When Bardo gained the first down on a quarterback sneak, the Flyers only had to take a knee once to secure the road win.
Dayton improved to 5-3, and 3-2 in the PFL, while Morehead State fell to 2-6 and 1-4.
Harris’ 216 yards were not only the most by a Dayton runner since the 2000 season, it was also the most in the PFL this season since 2008. Bardo added 63 yards on 12 attempts. Bardo had a tough day through the air (7 of 26 for 69 yards) but completed four of his last nine passes for 50 yards, two TD’s and two other first downs to keep drives alive.
Along with Langhorst’s 13 tackles, safety Steve Wirkus added 10 (one in the backfield) in his first game back after missing the last two with an ankle injury. Linebackers Bryan Bailin and Colin Monnier had nine and eight hits respectively, with both colleting a tackle for a loss.
Kicker Nate Miller added three punts inside the 20-yard line to go with his five field goals. He averaged 38.8 yards a punt on five punts for the game.
Dayton is on the road again next weekend, taking on Valparaiso on October 29.