With a strong defensive effort and more than 170 yards rushing, the University of Dayton won its first football game of the season Saturday, 20-14 over Robert Morris at Welcome Stadium.
Dayton (1-2), held off a fourth-quarter comeback, was led by fifth-year senior running back Taylor Harris, who ran for 106 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game today against Robert Morris,” Chamberlin said. “All the games over the last 15 years have gone down to the fourth quarter.”
After both teams failed to score in the opening quarter, the Flyers struck late in the second when Harris, who missed last week’s game with a knee sprain, rushed in from the 1-yard line with 3:05 to go in the first half, giving Dayton a 7-0 lead. The score marked the 400th straight game Dayton has played without being shut out.
“He brings power and explosion,” Chamberlin said of Harris.
After Dayton forced Robert Morris to punt on the following possession, the Flyers added another quick score just before halftime.
Starting at the RMU 30, redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Bardo completed a 22-yard pass down the UD sideline to redshirt freshman Ross Smith. Two plays later, Bardo took the snap on a quarterback sneak and pushed his way through the pile for a touchdown.
The Flyers held Robert Morris to 60 yards of offense in the first half, forcing three fumbles and grabbing an interception. Dayton finished the game with five sacks and held Robert Morris to 77 yards rushing.
“We played a very good game on defense because we know Robert Morris,” Chamberlin said. “We know what they are going to attack us with. So our guys were prepared.”
After Robert Morris (0-3) got on the scoreboard with a third-quarter TD, Dayton increased its lead later in the period behind the rushing of Harris. With Dayton threatening at the RMU 24, Harris sprinted up the middle for an 11-yard gain. He then took the next handoff through a hole on the right side and was hit at the 2 but shook the defender and dove for the end zone. The touchdown gave UD a 20-7 lead after a missed extra point.
“We just got into a rhythm,” Harris said of the offense. “That’s something we’ve been struggling to get into all year.”
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