Dayton Flyers look to clinch winning record in season finale

Tucker Yinger breaks free in the first half of Dayton’s 49-28 win over Robert Morris earlier this season. Mike Hartsock/STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Tucker Yinger breaks free in the first half of Dayton’s 49-28 win over Robert Morris earlier this season. Mike Hartsock/STAFF

It’s not the kind of season the Dayton Flyers were hoping for this year, but head coach Rick Chamberlin is a “glass half-full” guy as his team closes out the 2018 campaign at Jacksonville on Saturday.

“We played well the last couple of weeks and hopefully we can finish up with a winning record,” Chamberlin said.

“We have battled, that’s what I really appreciate about this team. A lot of teams would have just thrown in the towel after that San Diego game but our team didn’t.”

The Flyers (5-5, 4-3) have replaced a two-game losing streak with back-to-back wins. Running that streak to three in a row would avoid consecutive losing seasons — something that hasn’t happened since the mid 1970s.

Senior running back Tucker Yinger goes into his final game needing 28 yards on the ground to become the Flyers all-time rusher.

“What’s amazing is that record, before Conner Kacsor broke it, lasted for almost 30 years,” Chamberlin said. “Now it’s only taken three years for Tucker to be in a place to break it.”

Yinger became the first Dayton player to rush for two 1,000-yard seasons when he ran for 264 yards in the win on Senior Day.

“He’s not only one of the best players, he’s one of the best people we have in this program,” senior Nick Surges said. “Everything that he’s gone through and everything that’s been thrown at it him in his life, for him to set that record would be incredible.”

The game will likely be the last for 28 seniors in the Flyers program. Although some will opt to return for a fifth year of eligibility, most know their playing days are coming to an end.

“I’ve been reflecting a lot that last couple of days,” Surges said. “I couldn’t have been more fortunate for this university for giving me a chance to live out my dream, and for this coaching staff to take a chance on a 210 lb. defensive end once upon a time.”

The high point for the seniors was winning the Pioneer Football League title in 2015 and advancing to the FCS playoffs for the first time in school history.

One senior can look to last week as a personal highlight. Ben Gauthier went from blocking to being the guy following the blocks. The starting guard scored a touchdown in last week’s 63-20 win over Morehead State.

“I haven’t scored since grade school,” Gauthier said. “I’ll be honest I kind of blacked out. I don’t really remember much about that play. I just remember being in the end zone and jumping around with everyone.”

Gauthier said the play was put in the week before, but he wasn’t expecting to come in the first quarter last Saturday.

“You always want to be that big lineman lined up in the backfield who gets a fullback dive,” he said. “Luckily mine was from the one-inch yard line so I didn’t have to travel that far.”


SATURDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO

About the Author