Justin Watkins broke the UD career receiving yardage record with this 27-yard catch in the second quarter.
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The University of Dayton football team scored 21 points and forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter to come from behind and defeat a determined Campbell squad 41-23 Saturday at Welcome Stadium.
During the game, senior wideout Justin Watkins became the Flyer record holder in career receiving yardage. He entered the game needing 20 yards to reach Ryan Wrobleski’s record of 2,058 yards. He took care of that with his first catch, a 27-yarder from roommate Steve Valentino. On the day, Watkins caught seven catches for a season-high 127 yards, finishing the game with a career total of 2,165 yards. Every one of Watkins seven receptions in the game went for a first down.
Valentino was 14 of 25 for 223 yards through the air, and was also the game’s leading ground gainer with 15 carries for 89 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Brian Mack added 10 carries for 57 yards and Taylor Harris had 41 yards and all three fourth-quarter touchdowns in 12 rushing attempts. Anthony Papp was on the receiving end of three passes for 43 yards, with Tyler Hujik adding two receptions for 45 yards.
Senior James Vercammen led the defensive effort with a season-high 17 tackles (eight solo), two forced fumbles in the fourth quarter, 1.5 tackles in the backfield and a sack. Joe Ries checked in with 12 stops, and A.J. Kaltenbach added 10.
Campbell took the opening kickoff and drove 76 yards to take a 7-0 lead. After a Flyer three-and-out, the Camels added a field goal to lead 10-0 after the first quarter. UD scored a pair of Valentino touchdowns in its next two possessions to lead 14-10 at halftime.
Campbell took advantage of Dayton’s only turnover to turn a short field into a 17-14 lead, but the Flyers came back on the next series to make the score 20-17 after a nine-yard Mack run followed by a failed conversion caused by an errant snap. The Camels took the kickoff and drove 66 yards for an answering TD, but missed the PAT to head to the fourth quarter with the score Campbell 23, Dayton 20.
After Flyer freshman kick returner Gary Hunter flirted with breaking one off for a TD on each of his four returns (he averaged 25.5 yards a return on the day), the Camels elected to kick short, but that backfired when Mack took the ball and returned it to the Dayton 45. Eight plays later, Dayton reclaimed the lead for good when Harris scored from six yards out.
Vercammen created points off a turnover when he forced a Campbell fumble that was recovered by Steve Wirkus, giving the Flyers a short field. Harris capped off a four-play, 37-yard drive with a one-yard plunge. Vercammen forced another fumble on a sack that was claimed by Mike Morante. UD chewed up the clock by running the ball eight times in nine plays in a 53-yard drive that Harris finished with a four-yard run.
Campbell’s last possession ended in the hands of Flyer safety Eric Robbe, and he ran his interception back 12 yards to the CU 27 yard line. UD ran off three more plays, and then put its sixth straight win in the books.
Dayton improves to 7-1 on the year and 5-0 in the Pioneer Football League. The Flyers are tied with Jacksonville for first place in the PFL, one game ahead of Drake. UD is on the road next Saturday, travelling to Davidson. Game time is 1:00 p.m. ET. Dayton’s final home game of the year will be against Drake on November 6. The Flyers will close the season at Marist.