UD runs into a buzzsaw at Youngstown…Penguins set school record for touchdown passes in a game with a 49-16 win.
By Jeff Gilbert for Press Pros
Youngstown, OH – The Dayton Flyers watched game film on the bus ride home Saturday. They will watch it again on Sunday and into the week. They want to learn how to play better football the rest of the season because they want the sequels to be better than Saturday’s showing.
Because the Flyers – even if on paper Saturday’s result followed the expected script – didn’t like the way things went down at Stambaugh Stadium. They fell behind by 21 points in the first quarter and lost 49-16 to Youngstown State.
“This team was bigger, faster and stronger, there’s no doubt,” Flyers coach Rick Chamberlin said. “But we need to execute at almost near perfection to have a chance to hang in there. And early in the game we didn’t, and they snowballed on us.”
The first quarter resembled a sequel to “March of the Penguins.” Quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw threw his first three touchdown passes on a historic passing day for him and his team. His five TD passes tied an individual single-game record. His backup threw one to set the team single-game record. The Penguins (2-0) outgained the Flyers (1-1) 478 to 198, and the Flyers’ defensive effort didn’t match the one that limited Robert Morris to 30 rushing yards in last week’s 22-20 victory.
“Youngstown had a lot to do with this, but we took a step backward on defense in being sound fundamentally,” Chamberlin said. “We just got a little haphazard sometimes, and it cost us.”
It didn’t help that half the starting secondary was knocked out of the game in the first half. Senior safety Matt Lenti left early and spent the rest of the game with his left arm in a sling and ice on his shoulder. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Cole Hildebrand who saw his first major action.
Hildebrand made the defensive play of the game for the Flyers when he stripped the ball away from a YSU receiver to set up Dayton’s first points, a 34-yard field goal by Sam Webster early in the second quarter. But starting cornerback Elijah Smith was injured on the play and spent the rest of the day on crutches. Smith was replaced by senior Michael Franks.
“I was just running to the ball,” Hildebrand said. “It was the play Elijah got hurt, which stinks, but he did his job. He was holding him up and the guy was holding the ball out, so I just took it right from him.”
Other than Hildebrand’s play, YSU’s defense did most of the taking. The Penguins made two interceptions, covered Dayton’s receivers tightly and didn’t give running back Jake Chisholm room to run.
Dayton quarterback Dante Casciola stood in the pocket more than 30 times looking for a receiver. Sometimes he ran for whatever yards he could get, including a four-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 35-16. Sometimes he completed passes, including an eight-yard touchdown to Chisholm in the second quarter that made the score 28-10.
But sometimes Casciola showed his inexperience as a college quarterback. His decision to run was sometimes a half-second late and the Penguins’ defensive front tackled him at the line of scrimmage or not much past it. Five times the Penguins sacked him.
“Dante showed this last week – he holds the ball a little too long sometimes,” Chamberlin said. “He’s got to get rid of it. It’s not high school. You can’t just wait for the guy to get completely open.”
The 10 starters who surround Casciola started last year. He made his second start Saturday. He plans to binge on game film.
“There’s definitely plays, that when we look on film, we did a lot of good and we can always just take from it,” Casciola said. “But we didn’t win the game, and that’s what it comes down to. We’ll learn from it, and we’ll get ready for Kentucky State next week.”
Casciola knows some of the plays he will see and some of the regrets he will have.
“I still felt like there were areas to exploit them offensively, and that starts with me,” he said. “I’ve got to be better in those areas just hitting the right receiver on some routes and trusting some guys here and there.”
Casciola completed 17 of 26 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. That’s not the kind of production Dayton is used to, but when the running game comes around that should help. Through two games against what Chamberlin says are stout and stingy defensive fronts, all-American Jake Chisholm hasn’t had much running room.
Chisholm rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries for a 3.4 average last week. He carried 12 times for 33 yards and a 2.8 average on Saturday. Last year he gained 1,073 yards and averaged 4.4 yards a carry. But Chisholm isn’t worried.
“I’ve got full 100% confidence in our offense, especially our offensive line,” he said. “They’ve developed a lot from last year. Overall, we’ve had seams that have been better than this time last year.”
If Casciola hears that and sees it on film, he will feel a little better at practice this week.
“He’s definitely the leader of the offense, and when he gets going it just makes my life easier,” Casciola said. “So whether that’s in the passing game or the running game, however we want to incorporate it, we’ll definitely find a game plan for it.”
Chamberlin also remains confident in the running game.
“They were faster than our guys, they were getting across the line on us, and we couldn’t get a hole open,” he said. “Now when we get into teams more suitable to our level, like the PFL, we’ll be fine. There’ll be openings for Jake. We knew these first two games it was going to be tough to run the ball.”
Saturday wasn’t the sequel Chamberlin wanted to the exciting comeback victory at Robert Morris last week. But he knows why he scheduled these first two games, and he know the benefits that come with playing teams with 63 scholarship players to prepare for the Pioneer Football League schedule.
“The reason is to learn about our team going up against teams that are on paper better than us,” Chamberlin said. “How are we going to compete? Where do they expose us that we need to get better?”
The answers are in the game film. Even if Saturday’s matinee is not on anyone’s favorites list.