The University of Dayton used a big day from redshirt senior running back Taylor Harris to knock off Robert Morris 20-14 Saturday at Welcome Stadium. Harris, who missed the Duquesne game with a knee injury, carried the ball 19 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dayton defensive effort was led by junior corner Howard Savage, who had nine tackles, three passes batted down, an interception, a fumble forced and one tackle behind the line.
Harris' two-yard run that opened the scoring in the second quarter extended UD's games-without-being-shutout streak to 400 games, the longest in the history of college football. Dayton has not been shutout since 1976.
Both teams struggled to make a dent in the scoreboard in the first quarter as each possession ended in a punt or turnover. In the second quarter, Dayton broke through on Harris’ touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later, redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Bardo plunged into the end zone from one yard out to extend the Flyer lead to 14-0 right before halftime.
Robert Morris struck back after receiving the opening kickoff of the second half with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Sinclair to Paul Evans to bring the score to 14-7.
After an exchange of punts that was strongly in Dayton’s favor, (42 yards by UD’s Kyle Pignatiello vs. 27 yards by RMU), the Flyers took advantage of a short field do drive 42 yards for what turned out to be the game-deciding TD. Harris gained 30 of the 42 yards on three carries, the last one a 13-yard touchdown run, with 119 left to go in the third.
The Colonials would add one more score, a 77-yard bomb from Sinclair to Donte Jeter with 4:37 remaining in the final quarter.
RMU got the ball back one more time and tallied one first down to move the ball to midfield, but an interception by redshirt senior cornerback Matt Pfleger gave the ball back to the Flyers with 1:33 to go. The Flyers ran out the clock and earned their first win of the season.
Harris helped protect the lead by gaining 51 of his 106 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Flyers amassed 247 yards of total offense, while Robert Morris had 253. That RMU output is somewhat misleading. More than two-thirds (177 yards) of the total came on two series, and the Colonials actually lost yardage on half (seven of 14) of their possessions.
Twelve different Dayton defenders were in on UD’s 14 tackles in the Robert Morris backfield. Redshirt senior safety Ben Welsh and redshirt sophomore defensive end Pat Dowd each had two. Five Flyers also had sacks.
Pignatiello averaged 39.8 yard on eight punts, with four inside the 20 and three over 40 yards.
The Flyers, now 1-2, will open the Pioneer Football League season next Saturday, Sept. 22, when Jacksonville visits Welcome Stadium. Kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m. ET.