The Dayton Flyers proved they have long memories, atoning Saturday for last year’s opening day loss to Robert Morris. They won 49-28, with some good news/bad news scenarios.
Don’t waste time. Take the ball and find the end zone as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
The Flyers opened the 2018 season Saturday afternoon against Robert Morris at Welcome Stadium and put a 49-28 come-uppance on the Colonials.
And they did it early with the efficiency of of a high-speed computer.
The first four times the Flyers had the ball, they scored as if they were up against the pro game’s two-minute warning.
The drives took 1:36, 2:46, 2:18 and 2:14. And none were short trips — 65 yards in four plays, 61 yards in seven plays, 61 yards in five plays and 69 yards in five plays.
“Big plays, big plays,” said 11th-year coach Rick Chamberlin. “We had big plays on every drive.”
—The big play on the first drive that opened the game was a third-and-four 44-yard touchdown run by Tucker Yinger, who finished the day with 135 yard on 10 carries, the 12th time in his career he ran for more than 100 yards.
—The big play on the second drive was a second-and-seven 31-yard touchdown toss from senior quarterback Alex Jeske to Adam Trautman.
—The big play on the third drive was a second-and-12 18-yard pass from Alex Jeske to Ryan Skibinski that set up a five-yard touchdown sweep by red shirt freshman Richie Warfield.
—The big play on the fourth drive was a 26-yard touchdown pass from red shirt freshman quarterback Jack Cook to Skibinski to make it 28-7 early in the second quarter and it was over..
Cook? Who is Cook and what happened to quarterback Jeske.
Well, on the game’s third drive Jeske swept left and injured his knee when he was tackled and left the game, never to return.
Jeske missed most of last season with an injury and could have left the program for a big job in New York, but opted to come back and finish his career as the UD quarterback.
“It’s a knee and we’re not sure, and we’ll know more tomorrow,” said Chamberlin.
Cook, though, the red shirt freshman from the Pittsburgh suburbs, played like Cool Hand Luke. Before he was injured, Jeske hit 6 of 7 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown and ran twice for 13 yards. Cook was as deadly, maybe moreso, by hitting 7 of 12 for 111 yards and two touchdowns, adding 37 yards rushing on nine carries.
“That’s the way our program is,” said Chamberlin. “We get quality young men. You are always one play away from being in there and you have to be ready.”
Cook was more than ready and he was cooking right from the start.
“No, I did not expect to play, I did not,” said Cook. “I was ready to go. It was fun. It was exciting. I was a little nervous, but once you get going it was just like playing any other game.”
For the Flyers, it was retribution. In last year’s opener against Robert Morris in Corapolis, Pa., the Colonials stunned the Flyers, 13-10 on a dying moments field goal.
That was one of only two victories for Robert Morris last season and they lost their last nine. And the Flyers had beaten the Colonials 14 straight times.
It also launched the Flyers to a 5-and-6 season, only their second losing seas in 41 years. So Saturday was a get-on-the-right-track game and the Flyers did it with emphasis.
As a red shirt, Cook was on the team but never played, so he knows the frustration of last season.
“A 21-point win, you can’t beat that,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors, a lot of guys who have been there (nine returing offensive starters), so our goal is to win out, win the Pioneer (Football League) and make the playoffs. Everybody is on a mission to win after last year.”
Team captain David Leisring, a senior safety from Cincinnati St. Xavier, was all over the field with six tackles, an interception and three break-ups of passes. Jason Balough, a senior corner from Glen Ellen, Ill., led the Flyers with 13 tackles.
“They got the best of us last year, but being at home is always a boost of confidence,” said Leisring. “This is what you want in your first game. It wasn’t pretty, but you grind it out and trust your guys. That’s what we did today.
“It was sweet to get back at those guys,” he added. “You don’t want to dwell on the past, but it’s always on the back burner,” Leisring added. “The standards of this program are so high that when you have a year like we had last year there is a different aura in the air.”
Chamberlin and the defensive crew realizes that the Flyers have to turn the screws tighter. The offense carried the day. The defense gave up 257 yards through the air and 159 yards on the ground.
Robert Morris quarterback Jimmy Walker hit his first five passes and finished 16 for 32 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. His back-up, George Martin, was 5 for 7 for 38 yards and touchdown in the game’s last minute.
“It was a nice start and that’s what I told our young men after the game,” said Chamberlin. “We took our first step, It wasn’t perfect but for the first game we did some nice things.
“We know the offense is the strength of our team,” he added. “We have the weapons, we have skills. We just have to perform. That’s what they did. They lived up to my expectations today.”