The Dayton Flyers found themselves trailing 22-7 with 12 minutes to play in the first half on the road at Drake, but rallied for 32 unanswered points in a 46-29 win over the Bulldogs.
Junior safety Brandon Easterling made the play of the game, returning an Ian Corwin interception 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.
After Drake took the 22-7 lead early in the second quarter, the Flyers responded with a 75-yard drive, capped by quarterback Jack Cook’s 4-yard touchdown run.
On Drake’ ensuing possession Easterling picked off Corwin at the Dayton 29, but fell down.
“I just slipped, and as I went down I saw there was a lot of green in front of me,” he said.
Dayton finished that drive with a 23-yard Sam Webster field goal. Drake got the ball with 26 seconds to play in the half. Three plays later they were at the Dayton 14, looking to add to a 22-14 lead.
“I saw the quarterback staring at the receiver,” Easterling said. “I had good position, and once I caught it, I saw a lane. The blocking was unreal.”
The Dayton defenders turned blockers led the way, as Easterling returned the ball 100 yards for the score. Adam Trautmann caught a 2-point conversion pass from Cook, and the Flyers took a 25-22 lead into the locker room.
“That was THE play of the game,” UD coach Rick Chamberlin said. “I thought in the first quarter, ‘we don’t have it today’, but our guys kept fighting.”
Dayton took the second-half kickoff and marched 83 yards, using up 6:57 on the clock. Cook’s second rushing touchdown of the game gave Dayton a 32-22 lead.
Drake came back and marched to the Dayton 1. On the first play of the fourth quarter, a Corwin pass on fourth and goal fell incomplete. Dayton drove 99 yards, capped by a Jake Chisholm TD run. Drake responded with a scoring drive but minutes later, Easterling came up with his third interception of the day. Chisholm added another rushing TD as the Flyers moved to 7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Pioneer Football League.
“We are in a position to finish second in the league,” Chamberlin said.. “ And we want to send our seniors off with a win.”
Dayton closes the season at home on Saturday vs. Butler.
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