Visiting Dayton dropped its second conference game in as many weeks in a 21-11 loss at Butler on Saturday.
UD (1-4, 0-2 PFL) outgained BU (3-2, 2-0 PFL) 387-337 in total yards but the rushing attack of the Bulldogs and four Flyer turnovers proved to be the difference.
Dayton was paced by a career-high passing performance by sophomore quarterback Will Bardo. He finished 25-of-47 for 255 yards including 8 throws to classmate Branden Johnson for 69 yards.
The UD rushing attack gained 132 yards on the afternoon. Senior Rob Washington finished with 63 yards and one touchdown on the ground on 12 carries. Classmate Dan Jacob added 47 yards on 13 rushes.
BU rode the shoulders of PFL leading rusher Trae Heeter for 159 yards on 23 carries including touchdown runs on 41 and 78 yards in the second half. Overall, Butler rushed for 167 yards while passing for 170.
Dayton had an impressive start to the game as it forced a three-and-out on defense and then engineered a 15-play, 88-yard drive when it took over the ball on offense.
Key in the drive was a 27-yard pass from Bardo to Nik Gillum that moved the ball to midfield. Bardo was 5-for-6 passing with four of the five passes resulting in a first down. UD gained 63 of 88 yards through the air to build a 3-0 Flyer advantage on a 19-yard field goal by Pat Sankovic at the 6:47 mark of the first quarter.
Butler responded quickly with a 5-play, 75-yard drive ending with a 28-yard touchdown strike from Matt Lancaster to Brian Knight on a pass down the right sideline as BU took a 7-3 lead with 4:51 left in the first quarter.
After a slow start to the second quarter, Dayton regained the ball with 5:01 left and moved the ball 68 yards on 12 plays. Bardo tallied 42 yards passing while Jacob added 26 yards on the ground to set up a 34-yard field goal attempt with 49 seconds left in the half. The kick was blocked by Butler and returned 53 yards to the 23-yard line. However, BU was kept off the board following a bad shotgun snap and a sack.
Overall in the first half, Dayton out gained Butler in overall yardage (228-138), offensive plays (41-27) and first downs (13-8) but trailed 7-3. Bardo had 144 yards passing to four different Flyer receivers while Jacob paced the rushing attack with 52 yards.
Heeter, the leading rusher in the PFL, was held to just 18 yards on seven rushes in the first half. He tallied 141 yards on the ground in the second half including a 41-yard touchdown run at the 2:42 mark in the third quarter. Heeter then put the game out of reach for Dayton with a 78-yard sprint down the left sideline with 2:19 remaining.
Dayton’s lone score of the second half was a 13-yard touchdown run around the right side to begin the fourth quarter. The play ended a seven-play, 67-yard drive that elapsed 2:40. UD also converted on the two-point play as Bardo scampered through the left side, but it was not enough to overcome the BU rushing attack in the second half.
The Flyers return to the road next Saturday for a 1 p.m. PFL game at Davidson.