After starting the season with back-to-back wins on the road, the Dayton Flyers brought plenty of momentum into Saturday’s home opener at Welcome Stadium.
Unfortunately, the Dayton defense didn’t have many answers against Duquesne in a 35-31 Dukes victory.
The two teams traded touchdowns the first four possessions of the game. Dayton had three touchdown drives the first three times it had the ball.
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Sophomore quarterback Jack Cook hit Jake Chisholm for a 10-yard TD in the first quarter, and then threw two more in the second quarter. Kyle Butz hauled in a 35-yard score, and Adam Trautman caught a 15-yard strike before halftime.
Duquesne (2-1) always had an answer and the score was tied 21-21 at the intermission.
Dayton started the second half with a huge play. Chisholm took the opening kick on his own 3-yard line, bounced off a couple of defenders to find some open field down the sideline. The sophomore running back stepped out of one final tackle attempt at the 10-yard line, capping off a 97-yard kick return TD.
Duquesne came right back on an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive to tie the score at 28-28, and then the visitors came up with the key defensive play of the day.
Cook drove Dayton inside the Duquesne 15-yard line, but then his pass sailed over the head of Ryan Skibinski at the goal line and was intercepted in the end zone by Reid Harrison-Ducros.
The Flyers came back to retake the lead on a 32-yard field goal from freshman Sam Webster late in the third quarter, but Duquesne answered with a 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown dive by Mark Allen.
Allen, a graduate transfer from Penn State, torched the Flyers defense, rolling up 168 yards on 30 carries with a pair of touchdown runs.
Dayton still had one more chance for the win late in the game, moving the ball to the Duquesne 31-yard line. But Cook’s fourth-down pass was knocked away, sealing the Dukes’ second straight win at Welcome Stadium.
On a positive note, Trautman tied the Flyers’ all-time reception record.
The senior tight end caught nine passes for 89 yards, giving him 25 in the first three games and 133 catches in his Dayton career. That equals the total set by Bill Franks that has stood since 1991.
Dayton (2-1) gets a week off before returning to Welcome Stadium to kick off the Pioneer Football League schedule against Jacksonville. That game is a noon kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 5.
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