As University of Dayton football head coach Rick Chamberlin greeted Central State coach Cedric Pearl at midfield, he had nothing but good things to say.
Pearl’s squad made a late charge at the Flyers, but it wasn’t enough as Dayton opened the season with a 31-19 win in front of 4,000 fans at Welcome Stadium on Saturday night.
“Boy, they had things going there in the second half,” Chamberlin said of CSU. “I told Cedric that was a sign of a good team because they never gave up. He has things going in the right direction.”
For most of the night, it appeared the Flyers were going to open the season with an easy win.
Quarterback Alex Jeske threw for two scores and rushed for one as the Flyers finished with 408 yards in taking a 31-0 lead with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter.
However, the Marauders made a charge.
De’Michael Jackson scored on a 1-yard run after CSU recovered a fumbled punt deep in Flyer territory. Then Clim Robbins returned a punt 80 yards for a score and Jackson scored for the second time in less than four minutes to cut the deficit to 31-19 with 3:30 remaining.
“I liked how we played in the second half,” Pearl said. “But we still made too many mistakes.”
Dayton’s David Leisring recorded his second interception of the night to end CSU’s rally after they had recovered the onside kick.
It was not the best of starts for Jeske and the Flyers.
Central State’s Lindlay Reid picked Jeske’s first pass of the season off at the Flyer 34, setting the Marauders up just outside the red zone.
However, the Flyers got the ball back three plays later when CSU fumbled the exchange on fourth-and-1 at the 27. Eight plays and 77 yards later, the Flyers were into the end zone for the first time on a 1-yard run by Jack Adams.
“I know that was a momentum swing,” Chamberlin said .“I was disappointed because I thought we could have put some more points on the board, but it was a typical first game.”
Jeske added a scoring run and a scoring toss – 8 yards to Jack Euritt — as the Flyers built a 21-0 lead at the break.
Jeske had outdone the CSU offense by himself at the break, throwing for 195 yards and rushing for 17.
“It was probably not a great start, but the key is to bounce back well,” Jeske said. “I thought we did a great job of distributing the ball to different guys and the defense did a great job.”
The Flyers return home Saturday at 1 p.m. to host Robert Morris while Central State will play in the Chicago Classic on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. against Clark Atlanta University at Soldier Field.
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