Valparaiso (2-6, 0-4 PFL)
at Dayton (5-2, 3-1 PFL)
Game #9: Saturday, Nov. 1, 12 p.m. CDT
Welcome Stadium (11,000 - Astroturf) - Dayton, OH
This Week in Crusader Football: The Crusaders are forced to put last Saturday’s gut-wrenching loss to Morehead State behind them as Pioneer Football League play continues this weekend in Dayton. The Flyers are coming off their first loss in league play after a 40-29 defeat to San Diego in Southern California last Saturday. While Jacksonville remains a perfect 5-0 in the PFL, Dayton sits just one game back in the loss column. A victory by the Brown and Gold would give them two road wins for the first time since 2007. That win won’t come easy as the Flyers play host inside the ironically-named Welcome Stadium. Dayton is 195-40-2 (.827) since moving there in 1974, including a 3-0 record accompanied by a +67 point differential this season.
On the Air: For the ninth straight season, the Valpo Sports Radio Network is home to all 12 Crusader football games in 2014. All 12 games can be heard live on WVUR (95.1FM, Valparaiso), online through www.valpoathletics.com. Todd Ickow will handle all the play-by-play, with Brad Collignon adding the color commentary this week. Links to the video, audio, and live stats will also be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Dave Cecchini: Cecchini is 2-6 in his first year at Valparaiso. His first head coaching win came on Sept. 20th, 2014 when the Crusaders defeated William Jewell 39-30. Cecchini most recently served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Lehigh where the Mountain Hawks captured a Patriot League Championship in 2010. His path to Valpo also included stops at Harvard and The Citadel, where he mentored QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Andre Roberts to eventual professional careers. While Cecchini made a name for himself as offensive coordinator at Harvard in 2003, the Crimson compiled the fourth-best offense in the nation en route to an undefeated 10-0 season and an Ivy League Championship. Furthermore, The Citadel set 16 offensive records under his tutelage. As a receiver at Lehigh, Cecchini garnered All-American honors and established numerous single-season school and Patriot League records.
All-Time Series: Dayton leads the all-time series over Valpo, 21-2, with the Flyers riding a ten-game winning streak over the Brown and Gold. The Crusaders’ last win over Dayton came on Oct. 11th, 2003 when they won a 33-28 nailbiter at Welcome Stadium. In the history of the series, Valpo is 1-11 versus Dayton away from Brown Field. The Flyers have had their way offensively against the Crusaders, having scored 40+ points twelve times and 50 or more on five occasions.
Wrapping Up 2013: The Crusaders captured their only win of the season on Homecoming last year, defeating Campbell 49-42 in overtime. Valpo ended the season 1-10 and 1-7 in PFL play, but returns plenty of experience for 2014 in addition to a brand new coaching staff.
Scouting Dayton: One of the best running backs in all of FCS football will be on display Saturday in southwestern Ohio. Connor Kacsor, the bread-and-butter of the Dayton offense, has already amassed over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdown carries. He leads the PFL and is in the top ten nationally in the aforementioned categories (12 rushing TDs; 1,073 rushing yards) as well as yards per carry (6.62) and rushing yards per game (153.3). Kacsor alone accounts for an average of 10.3 points per game, also tops in the league and sixth in the country. With most eyes in the backfield, quarterback Will Bardo has quietly assembled a nice season under center. The owner of a 58.9% pass completion mark and eight touchdown passes, those figures go well with 1,209 yards. The redshirt senior is suspectible to the interception, however. Nine of Bardo’s 202 pass attempts have been picked off. He also has a pair of touchdown rushes to his credit.
Dayton’s defense allows an average of 24.3 points per game, tied for the fourth- fewest in the PFL alongside San Diego. Linebacker Christopher Beaschler is second in the league in tackles with 73, while defensive end Nate Sudnick is having a breakout sophomore campaign with 7.5 tackles for a loss including 4.5 sacks. As a defensive unit, the Flyers have racked up 17 sacks so they’ll be put to the test against a Crusader offensive line that has allowed a PFL-low five. Strong safety Zach Elias leads the Dayton secondary in interceptions and fumble recoveries with two each. Free safety Danny Leach has also been a nuisance for opposing offenses. Leach possesses two tackles for a loss, a sack, an interception, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles (one recovered), and a blocked kick.
Special teams represent a formidable strength for the Flyers. Redshirt sophomore William Will is 12-of-14 on field goals, including a perfect 4-for-4 mark on kicks from 30-49 yards. One of his two misses was a 51-yard attempt in Dayton’s five-overtime contest at Davidson. Will was named First Team All-PFL last season after splitting the uprights ten times on field goals in 2013. His strong boot on kickoffs - as evidenced by 19 career touchbacks - looms as a neutralizer for Valpo’s ascending kickoff returner, Jarrett Morgan.
Head Coach Rick Chamberlin: It’s unlikely that any individual is as synonymous with Dayton football as Rick Chamberlin. The Springfield, Ohio native and 1980 Dayton graduate is in his 41st season as a part of the Flyer football program. Chamberlin had served as an assistant coach for 28 seasons before being named head coach in January of 2008. He enters Saturday’s game with a 52-22 record at the helm of the Flyer program, including two PFL Championship seasons (2009, 2010). Overall, Chamberlin has been involved in 346 of Dayton’s 646 victories as a program that began in 1905.
Captain Morgan: Freshman Jarrett Morgan’s four blocked kicks lead all of FCS football.
Connor’s Career Counter the Crusaders: Connor Kacsor already has two 100-yard rushing games under his belt versus the Brown and Gold. He recorded 124 yards (and 2 TDs) on nine carries on October 20, 2012 in a 45-0 shutout. Last November 16th, he tallied 105 yards on 20 rushes at Brown Field in Dayton’s 45-20 victory.
No Home November: The Crusaders have opened November on the road eight of the last nine seasons.