Nestor’s blitz was not nearly as effective on the Flyers as the blitzes the Stetson Hatters applied that led to UD’s 38-21 Pioneer Football League defeat.
DeLAND, Fla. — Tropical Storm Nestor put a stiff blitz on Central Florida, where the University of Dayton football team waited to play Stetson University Saturday afternoon.
The outer bands of Nestor dumped 5 1/2 inches of rain on Stetson’s Spec Martin Memorial Stadium Friday night.
That forced a three-hour delay in the game’s start to permit the field to shake off all the water, a game the Flyers won’t soon forget, a 38-21 defeat.
That was a group of Mad Hatters blitzing UD quarterback Jack Cook (four sacks) on nearly every play. They used a three-man front with five linebackers and a ‘spotter’ on Cook.
Because the Flyers were chasing the Hatters from behind all afternoon, Cook threw, threw and threw some more — a school record 57 times to accumulate 382 yards and three touchdowns.
It wasn’t nearly enough. All it did was force UD’s wide receivers to run downfield on nearly every play, leaving them exhausted and cramping up by game’s end.
Stetson handled the heat and humidity as well as they handled the Flyers. While UD warmed up before the game in full football gear, the Hatters wore tee shirts and didn’t put on their full-dress regalia until kickoff time.
And they paid apt attention to UD tight end Adam Trautman, applying double coverage. Before every play they pointed to where he was and yelled to each other where he was going. Trautman did catch a touchdown, his 10th of the season, but he caught only four other passes for 83 yards.
With so much attention on Trautman, Cook went eight times to Markus Hurd for 75 yards.
That, too, was not nearly enough.
It was perhaps the biggest thing to happen to Stetson’s football program since its rebirth in 2013,
The school, founded by famous hatmaker John B. Stetson, beat the University of Havana, 64-0, in November of 1956, then dropped football.
The school’s next football recognition came in the 1980s when the movie, ‘Waterboy,’ starring Adam Sandler, was filmed on Stetson’s field.
Beating the Flyers, though, was huge, huger and hugest. The schools had played only three times and UD won all three.
Stetson improved to 5-and-2 (2-1 in the PFL) and UD dipped to 4-and-2 (2-1 in the PFL).
“This is the worst defeat for Dayton that I have been around for quite while,” said UD coach Rick Chamberlin. “We were beat physically, we really were. I know part of it was that we just ran out of gas toward the end of the third quarter.”
The Hatters and Flyers came into the game as the two highest scoring teams in the PFL, Stetson No. 1 (45 points a game) and Dayton (40.8 points a game).
On this day, it was Stetson wearing the top hats and the Flyers wearing the skull caps.
The Flyers came in severely handicapped. They were missing three wide receivers, including starter Kyle Butz, also their top punt returner. Also out with injury was Drake Yinger, a top participant on all UD’s special teams.
Then, during the game in 85-degree heat and high humidity, the Flyers lost safety Tim Simon early in the game. And safety Brandon Easterling was injured early and played on, limping the entire game but still leading the Flyers with 13 tackles, twice more than any teammate. And he returned two punts.
Want more? No. 1 running back Sean Prophit left the game early. Wide receiver Ryan Skibinski limped on and off the field all afternoon with cramps.
By game’s end, there were many fresh, white jerseys that hadn’t seen much game action.
“What was happening was that we had guys hurt who couldn’t be out there,” said Chamberlin. “We had other guys out there trying to fill their spots on special teams.”
But give Stetson credit. They were ready, they were prepared, they were lethal.
“We knew that coming in,” said Chamberlin. “I told them and they certainly saw it. That might be the best defense we’ll see all year. They came after us and they have athletes who can do it.”
Quarterback Gaven DeFilippo was a flinging maestro — 23 for 36 for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Jalen Leary was a one-man track meet. He set a school record with 220 yards on 19 carries that included an 81-yard touchdown.
The Flyers continue to try to figure out what the other team is doing when it runs the ball and continues to watch running backs sprint 90, 80 and 70 yards on jet sweeps for touchdowns.
“We’re still making dumb mistakes on defense, not being where we are supposed to be,” said Chamberlin. “And we aren’t making the big plays when we are in the right spot.”
UD quarterback Jack Cook probably used every cube of ice in the training room to soothe his arm after the 57 passes.. And while Adam Trautman caught a touchdown pass, his 10th this season, Stetson stayed close enough to him all afternoon to whisper sweet nothings in his ears.
‘They got us out of our rhythm offensively and we were panicking,” added Chamberlin. On Stetson’s determination to cancel out Trautman, he said, “They were doubling him, they were jamming him at the line. That No. 15 (Colby Duncan) is a very good linebacker. Wherever Trautman was, that’s where he went. They had a great plan. They had a bye week and they were ready.”
The stage was arranged in the first quarter-and-a-half when Stetson leaped to a 14-0 lead, the Flyers biggest deficit this season.
The first Stetson touchdown came after UD punter Allen Waltz unleashed a 54-yard down-wind punt. Unfortunately, he outkicked his coverage. Stetson’s Jaylon Johnson returned it 37 yards down the right sideline to UD’s 23. Leary ran 22 yards off the right side to the one and DeFilippo passed for the touchdown on the next play.
The Hatters started on their 27 after a punt to end the first quarter. They embarked on a 73-yard, eight-play trip that concluded with DeFilippo again tossing a short touchdown pass from the UD 2.
The Flyers got back in it, briefly, by crunching 80 yards in six plays, with Cook hitting Trautman with a 20-yard TD pass.
It got away after that. Late in the half, Stetson traveled 83 yards, converting three third-down plays. And DeFilippo took it himself this time from the two.
It was 21-7 at the half. Stetson converted six of nine third down plays for first downs and UD was 0 for 4.
Stetson added a field goal early in the second half. The Flyers best play of the game came when Cook scrambled and hit a 44-yard swing pass touchdown to Jake Chisholm.
It was 24-14 and there was hope. Faint hope. Even faintness said good-bye midway through the third quarter. It was the first play after a punt. Stetson’s Leary circled right on a jet sweep and scooted and scampered and scuttled 81 yards for the knife-plunging touchdown and a 31-14 lead.
“They didn’t do a thing we didn’t know about,” said Chamberlin. “There was nothing there like, ‘Oh my gosh, what are they doing?’ We knew exactly what they were doing. We just . . . well, it has been our Achilles heel . . . defense.
“We knew it was going to catch up to our offense because we can’t rely on them every game to score 42 points,” he added.
On this day, Nestor, heat, humidity, injuries, poor defense, poor special teams play and, oh, yeah….one mighty fine Stetson team caught up with the Flyers.