Hal McCoy
Hal McCoy

Hal McCoy is a former beat writer for the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), covering the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which is awarded annually "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing." He has won 43 Ohio and national writing awards and was the first non-Cincinnati newsperson elected to the Cincinnati Journalists Hall of Fame. McCoy has been the Cincinnati BBWAA Chapter Chair 22 times and was the BBWAA national president in 1997. He is the third writer from the Dayton Daily News to win the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, joining Si Burick (1982) and Ritter Collett (1991). Residing in Clayton, Ohio, McCoy is an honors graduate in journalism from Kent State University.

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Jack Cook’s primary target all season, tight end Adam Trautman, caught only three passes as the San Diego defense shadowed him like a Russian spy. San Diego provided Trautman with better coverage than Progressive.

DAYTON — To the Pioneer Football League, the University of San Diego is ‘The Evil Empire.’

Nobody can touch the Toreros in the PFL, including the proud and historic University of Dayton.

The Flyers became San Diego’s 33rd straight PFL victim Saturday afternoon at Welcome Stadium, 50-38, the longest conference winning streak for any college football program.

The Toreros, Spanish for Bullfighters, have won seven of the last eight PFL championships, with the win over Dayton they appear on the interstate toward another one.

It was San Diego’s fourth straight win over the Flyers and the Toreros have won seven of the last nine confrontations.

The last time USD lost a conference game was 1,477 days ago, four seasons ago, and it was to Dayton on October 10, 2015.

Jack Cook hit Adam Trautman for a 25-yard score and a quick 7-0 UD lead.

That’s because before San Diego became boss of the party, UD had won 12 PFL titles. In fact, the PFL has been in existence for 27 years and either Dayton or San Diego has won the championship 22 times.

The 50-38 score sounds respectable, and the Flyers were only down 22-20 at halftime. But San Diego power-washed the Flyers 28-6 to start the second half to take a 50-26 lead.

UD scored two touchdowns in the final 70 seconds of the game to pad their point total, but there was not nearly enough padding to absorb this pounding.

It was Albert Hammond who sang, ‘Seems it never rains in southern California.’ That includes sun-drenched San Diego, so with an all-day downpour in Welcome Stadium some thought that might slow down the Toreros.

That was a real bad assumption. The Flyers were chasing ghosts in the rain all afternoon.

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San Diego quarterback Reid Sinnett is from Iowa, where it rains often and heavily. Undaunted as raindrops kept falling on his head, Sinnett hit 18 of 31 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns.

The red-shirt senior is responsible for 28 touchdowns this season (25 passing, two rushing, one receiving), second in the FCS nation.

And running back Terrence Smith is from New Jersey, where when it rains it pours. He sloshed his way for 139 yards and three touchdowns on only 11 carries.

UD’s Zach Rumpke takes down San Diego’s wide receiver Jake Spadone.

And he had offensive help from a California kid, running back Emilio Martinez. He rushed for 161 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.

With the one-two Smith-Martinez attack, the Toreros rushed for 303 yards and four touchdowns against a Dayton defense that sometimes appears to believe it is playing flag/touch football.

Quarterback Sinnett had help too, also from a California kid. Michael Bandy caught nine passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.

Bandy, a 5-10, 180-pound wide receiver from La Mirada, Calif, has 10 PFL receiving touchdowns this season and has snagged passes for more than 100 yards in eight of his last 10 games.

The inclement weather seemed to affect UD quarterback Jack Cook more than Sinnett. He did throw four touchdown passes, but he completed only 20 of 42 for 298 yards, mostly while running for his life and throwing in despair and desperation.

San Diego’s Michael Bandy, and … “The Fumble”……

His primary target all season, tight end Adam Trautman, caught only three passes as the San Diego defense shadowed him like a Russian spy. San Diego provided Trautman with better coverage than Progressive.

He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass early in the game, then caught two more in the first half and the Flyers only trailed by two points.

But he caught zero in the second half, even though Cook targeted him over-and-over. UD’s second leading receiver, Ryan Skibinski, didn’t catch any in the first half. But he hauled in seven in the second half for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The Flyers were missing injured safety Tim Simon, their best pass defender — and Sinnett thanks him for his absence.

UD also was missing No. 1 running back Sean Prophit, so the Flyers went to the Chisholm Trail for help. Back-up running back Jake Chisholm did the heavy lifting and it was heavy stuff.

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The 5-9, 180-pound sophomore from Union, Ky., amassed 273 all-purpose yards. He lugged leather 17 times for 118 yards. He caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. He returned six kickoffs for 91 yards. And then he rested.

The Flyers won the toss and did not elect to defer. They wanted the football. And they traveled 75 yards in eight plays, with Cook hitting Trautman for a 25-yard score and a quick 7-0 UD lead.

Flyer Brandon Easterling, and … “The Pick-Up”……

It took San Diego three plays to retaliate. On the first play after UD’s touchdown, Sinnett hit Bandy for a 57-yarder and the officials tacked on 15 for roughing the passer. Two plays later Martinez scooted 11 yards for a touchdown.

San Diego scored again on its next trip, 75 yards in 11 plays, converting a fourth-and-one and then scoring on third-and-22, a 45-yard pass to Michael Armstead.

The Toreros added a field goal midway through the second quarter to take a 16-7 lead before Cook hit Chisholm with a 49-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 16-14.

Then the Flyers caught a mammoth break on the kickoff when Bandy fumbled and UD’s Brandon Easterling recovered and took it to San Diego’s 12. Chisholm ran for 10 and Cook eventually sneaked in from the one.

Suddenly, the Flyers led 20-16 with momentum sticking out of all their helmets. San Diego quickly took it away.

Before the half they took over four plays to cover 75 yards, ending on a 43-yard touchdown fling to Bandy.

UD’s Brandon Easterling, with … “The Recovery”……

That gave San Diego a 22-20 lead at intermission, then the Toreros said enough was enough, outscoring the Flyers 28-6 to start the second half and put it out of reach.

San Diego is now 4-and-0 in the PFL and UD’s league hopes are snuffed out with a 2-2 record, 4-and-3 overall.

Flyers coach Rick Chamberlin sounds like Memorex these days when he talks about his team’s defense, or lack thereof, after giving up 617 yards of total offense.

San Diego has scored 30 or more points in all seven of its games, but the 50 they plastered on the Flyers are the most this season.

Chamberlin’s post-game comments sounded extremely similar to his comments after the Flyers lost at Stetson, 38-21.

“We knew going in we were running into a very good offense,” he said. “We knew we had to play our best defensive game. Well, we are not there yet.

Jack Cook gets snagged by a San Diego defender.

“We had some spurts there but, still, we are not a very good defensive team,” he added.

Asked if he could put his finger on the problem, and perhaps stick that finger in the defensive holes, Chamberlin said, “Reasons? We’re not very disciplined. Right now, for some reason, when the ball is snapped we’re not able to focus in on where we are supposed to be so we can make a play.

“Sometimes they are better players, just better than us,” he said with a shrug. The PFL knows that for the last decade San Diego is the top of a tall building.

It seems, though, week-after-week that UD’s opponents exploit the left side of the defense, breaking off long runs by running to its right that result in long-range untouched touchdowns.

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“Sweeps to right, passes down the middle, busts up the middle. . .it is a team effort giving up big plays,” he said.

About San Diego’s breakaway second half, Chamberlin said, “Yeah, they made some big plays. They weren’t doing anything different, they did the things we knew they were going to do. They just executed better, executed every phase of the game better.”

And mostly, they executed the Flyers and their hopes for a PFL title.

All day down-pour brought out the die-hard fans for the Flyers.

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