By Mike Hartsock
Playing for pride is never the goal for any football team, but for the third year in a row it’s what the Dayton Flyers will be doing in the final two weeks of the season.
Rick Chamberlin’s club had a four-game winning streak snapped at home last Saturday. Butler’s 33-30 win eliminated UD from a shot at another Pioneer Football League title.
“You want to accomplish something more than you did the year before, and we’re still right there where we can,” Chamberlin said. But to get there the Flyers need to do something that no PFL team has done in quite a while — win a game at Drake.
They get that chance today at 2 p.m. in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Bulldogs (5-4 overall, 4-2 PFL) have won 15 straight league games at home. Dayton (6-3, 4-2) was the last PFL team to escape Des Moines with a win, back in 2009. “It was after a disappointing loss to Butler,” Chamberlin said. “We went out there and had a nice win for ourselves and we’re hoping history will repeat itself.”
This is the first of back-to-back road games to end the season for the Flyers. But Chamberlin won’t have all of his weapons on offense. Starting running back Connor Kacsor didn’t make the trip. Doctors are holding him out as a precaution after he suffered a concussion on the opening drive last week. Kacsor is closing in on rushing for 1,000 yards this season.
The Flyers could also be playing without starting quarterback Will Bardo, who suffered a severely sprained ankle in the fourth quarter against Butler. If Bardo can’t go, junior Luke Johnson will get his first start. Johnson has played in three games this season completing 12-of-20 passes including one touchdown toss.
Dayton has clinched a seventh-straight winning season. But they’ve been stuck on six wins the last two seasons. Senior safety Nick Weston says there is still plenty to play for: “We’ve just had the motto of finishing these two games like we started. We’ve put so much hard work into the offseason, we want to finish it right.”
Dayton at Drake, 2 p.m., 1290 (after UD basketball)