Dayton quarterback Jack Cook against Robert Morris earlier this season. Erick Schelkun/CONTRIBUTED

College Football: Flyers looking to avoid back-to-back losing seasons

The Dayton Flyers (4-5, 3-3 Pioneer Football League) haven’t had back-to-back losing seasons since the mid-1970s, but that remains a possibility with two games left on the schedule.

“Just an overall winning record and pride for the team and the program,” fifth-year senior Matt Tunnacliffe said. “Last game at home and senior day…so a lot of things, but most important playing for each other.”

Dayton needs a win Saturday against Morehead State (2-6, 2-4) and the following week at Jacksonville to post its 40th winning season in the last 42 years.

“You want to finish up the season on a winning note,” UD coach Rick Chamberlin said. “It gives you momentum heading into the winter as you begin preparing for the 2019 season.”

Part of the frustration from a year ago was a loss at Morehead that snapped an eight-game winning streak against the Eagles.

“We’ve got to control the ball,” Chamberlin said. “They’ve been averaging about 90 plays a game and they put up a lot of points. They are a quick, fast offense that doesn’t spend a lot of time on the line, they go.”

Chamberlin will hand out what he calls the program’s biggest award at halftime on Saturday. The Lt. Andy Zulli trophy will be presented to a player who doesn’t always make a big impact on the field.

“It’s not just the best football player, it’s the best person on this team,” Chamberlin said. “The guy who lives and dies U.D. football, both on and off the field.”

Last season’s winner is not eligible for the award this season. Matt Tunnacliffe won the Zulli award and the Flyer of the Year awards in 2017.

The Flyers have 28 seniors who will be honored before Saturday’s game. Four of them are fifth-year players who are out of eligibility, including quarterback Alex Jeske, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first half of the first game of the season.

“I’ve always tried to take it one day and one practice at a time,” Tunnacliffe said. “I try not to put too much pressure on that, it’s just fun to be out here with the guys. Try to focus on the little stuff and I think that’s what all the seniors will do, and then ultimately it will hit us at the end of the day that it will be our last day there.”

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