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Dayton scores 41-27 Pioneer Football League win over MSU

DAYTON, Ohio -- Dayton scored 24 unanswered points on Saturday afternoon at Welcome Stadium and never looked back in a 41-27 Pioneer Football League victory over Morehead State.

The Flyers improve to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in PFL play, while the Eagles slip to 1-5 on the year and 0-3 in league action. UD also improves to 13-5 in the all-time series with its fourth straight win over MSU.

“We made lots of little mistakes today, which added up to one big problem and another loss,” Head Coach Matt Ballard said. “I really feel like our problems are correctable moving forward, but we have to get to the point where we’re executing on a more consistent basis.”

Morehead State held a 13-10 lead late in the first period, but Dayton responded with two touchdowns late in the second, a field goal in the third and another TD early in the fourth to take control.

Sophomore quarterback Will Bardo gave the Flyers a 17-13 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Nik Gillum with 2:56 remaining before intermission.

Bardo, freshman flanker Ross Smith and senior running back Robert Washington then pushed the advantage to 24-13 on a 39-yard hook-and-lateral play to end the half.

“Those two late first-half touchdowns were certainly the turning point today,” Ballard added. “We had a decent amount of momentum on both sides of the ball, and Dayton’s trick play as time expired took the wind out of our sails. It was unfortunately downhill from there.”

Dayton senior kicker Pat Sankovic booted a 24-yard field goal with 8:08 remaining in the third before senior running back Dan Jacob made it 34-13 with a 29-yard sprint to the end zone on the first play of the fourth. The Flyers scored one more time in the final stanza.

UD collected 25 first downs, 263 passing yards, 269 rushing yards, 532 total yards and 92 kick-return yards on the afternoon, while MSU finished with 26 first downs, 315 yards in the air, 138 yards on the ground and 57 kick-return yards.

Dayton’s scoring run overshadowed a 45-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Zach Lewis to freshman slot receiver Justin Cornwall, which was the first TD catch of Cornwall’s collegiate career.

The PFL’s top tackler, sophomore linebacker Jordan Hendrix, led the Eagles with 10 stops. Freshman defensive lineman Austin Hollingsworth posted his first career forced fumble and senior defensive back Rashaad Palmer tallied his first fumble recovery at MSU.

Senior linebacker Colin Monnier led the Flyers with a game-high 14 tackles, while Monnier and sophomore safety Matt Bianco also recorded interceptions for the UD defense.

Bardo finished 15-of-23 for 214 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Freshman running back Connor Kacsor added 106 yards via the ground attack and one touchdown on 13 attempts. Gillum was UD’s top receiver with 57 yards and one score on three catches.

Lewis wrapped up the affair 34-of-50, with three touchdowns and two turnovers. Sophomore running back Rees Macshara managed 109 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries for the Eagles, while senior wide receiver Kevin Thomas collected 94 yards and one score on eight receptions.

Morehead State continues its PFL slate next Saturday with a 6 p.m. ET contest at Butler. The Eagles return to Jayne Stadium on Oct. 27 for the annual homecoming game against Campbell.

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