Dayton squeaks past Robert Morris in Saturday FCS football action


On a cool, sunny Saturday afternoon, the University of Dayton Flyers defeated the Robert Morris University Colonials 21-14 in a back-and-forth, action-packed game at Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township.

Dayton took the lead at 11:50 of the fourth quarter, when a seven-play, 93-yard drive concluded with a 41-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Will Bardo to Branden Johnson to give the Flyers a 14-7 advantage on the scoreboard.

On the ensuing kickoff, RMU turned the ball over. Flyers’ redshirt sophomore Nolan Harmotto knocked the ball loose on Colonials sophomore Brian Jones’ return to set up Dayton’s game-winning touchdown.

Flyers’ redshirt sophomore running back Connor Kacsor finished off a 10-play, 39-yard drive with a two yard touchdown run putting Dayton ahead 21-7.

With the clock running down, the Colonials next scoring drive went 75 yards on just five plays. Junior quarterback Paul Jones had the longest pass of his young career when he hit junior wide receiver Duane Mitchell with a 40-yard touchdown strike down the right sideline to make it 21-14 at 1:43 of the fourth quarter.

Trying to squeeze in one more drive, RMU (1-2) then attempted an onside kick to regain possession, but could not recover it, and Dayton (2-1) was able to run out the clock to end the game.

Jones was 6-of-24 for 112 yards on the afternoon with two touchdowns, and one interception for the Colonials. Mitchell caught three passes for 63 yards to go with his one touchdown.

RMU redshirt senior linebacker Mike Cook finished with a career-high 19 tackles on the day, and has passed the 150 career tackles mark. Redshirt senior linebacker Kyle Cooper matched his career best of 12 tackles while junior defensive lineman Forrest Mason turned a career-high nine tackles for the Colonials.

The Flyers’ Bardo was 13 of 26, passing for 183 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His favorite target was Johnson, who hauled in six passes for 133 yards and both touchdowns.

Dayton’s redshirt senior running back Robert Washington rushed 17 times for 63 yards while Kacsor ran for 60 yards on 16 carries to go along with the game-winning touchdown.

Starting with an eight-play, 75-yard opening drive, the Flyers’ Bardo completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Johnson down the left sideline at 11:10 of the first quarter.

After Dayton fumbled the catch of a punt, that was recovered by RMU junior linebacker Mike Stojkovic, the Colonials’ offense came back with a touchdown of their own at 1:21 of the first quarter. Jones hit senior tight end D.J. Pearson with a 16-yard touchdown pass to complete a two-play, 11-yard drive, that took a mere 48 seconds off the clock, to tie the game up at 7-7.

Both defenses kept a lid on any more scoring through the second and third quarters. The stage was now set for the fourth quarter showdown.

RMU, which was playing its 200th game in program history, fell to 13-9 all-time when tied at the half.

Robert Morris (1-2) will regroup during the off week this week. The Colonials will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 28 when they travel to Foster Stadium in Lexington, Va., to take on the VMI Keydets at 1:30 p.m.