Football defeats Dayton to gain control of PFL
Toreros improve to 6-1 after a 40-29 victory
The University of San Diego Toreros football team captured its fifth straight victory on Saturday against the University of Dayton Flyers. The Toreros improved to 6-1 on the season, with this one arguably the most impressive win thus far.
The Flyers took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter due to their success on special teams. Redshirt sophomore kicker William Will made two field goals from 37 and 43 yards to give the Flyers the lead. Their first touchdown came on a blocked USD punt that was recovered in the end zone by redshirt freshman linebacker Jack Crain.
Although the Flyers were ahead, the defense did a great job limiting the Flyers on offense. The Flyers were unable to capitalize on USD’s mistakes, which is a credit to the Torero’s tight defense in crucial situations.
Despite being down early, head coach Dale Lindsey expressed in an interview with USDtv that he knew holding the Flyers to field goals would significantly help their chances.
“If we could continue holding them to field goals, then we’ll win the game,” Lindsey said.
Despite the early deficit, the Toreros remained calm and elevated their level of play in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Keith Williams had the hot hand, which resulted in two touchdown passes and a 13-13 tie heading into halftime. Senior wide receiver Brandon White caught a 17-yard touchdown for the first Torero score of the day. With just 33 seconds left in the half, Williams connected with redshirt senior Reggie Bell on a 7-yard pass, which helped give the Toreros momentum heading into the break.
Lindsey was very happy with the offensive performance from the second quarter through the rest of the game.
“One outstanding thing was Dallas Kessman, Jonah Hodges and our offensive line decided that we were going to run the ball,” Lindsey said. “And that will get your passing game going.”
The defense remained tough in the second half, led by senior safety and captain Troy McClelland. The Toreros took over deep in Flyer territory after McClelland forced a fumble that put USD in position to score. Kessman benefited from the turnover and scored on 1-yard run, putting the Toreros in front 20-13.
In an interview with USDtv, Kessman appreciated the hard work from his offensive line. Coming off a leg injury that kept him out for most of last season and the beginning of this season, he was able to make a quick transition back to his running back position.
“It feels great to be back and I took advantage of the opportunities the line gave me tonight,” Kessman said. “I had some holes to run through and the opportunity to make big plays.”
Kessman’s impressive comeback did not go unnoticed. Lindsey was very impressed with the way Kessman performed in his first game back after such a long recovery process.
“I think he is just getting back in the groove of being the ball carrier that he was two years ago and finding his timing,” Lindsey said. “It’s a really great change-up for us to have Dallas with Jonah.”
The Flyers responded quickly and took momentum away from the Toreros late in the third quarter. The offense implemented some trickery with a play designed to have redshirt senior wide receiver Ross Smith throw a pass to fellow senior wide receiver Colin McManamon, resulting in a touchdown. Just minutes later, senior running back Connor Kacsor put the Flyers ahead with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The fourth quarter was packed with exciting plays, with a majority coming via the Toreros’ running game on offense.
The score was 33-29 following another Kessman touchdown and Will field goal. USD clinched the victory on a Williams touchdown run with one minute remaining that put the game out of reach.
Kessman finished the game with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 19 carries. McClellenad was awarded co-Pioneer League Player of the Week for his six tackles, interception and forced fumble.
Lindsey was impressed with the way the team fought for this victory.
“Hats off to the coaches and the players because they just kept fighting and that’s all we can ask for is to play the whole 60 minutes,” Lindsey said.
This was a very important win in terms of PFL standings because Dayton had a four-game winning streak before this loss. The Flyers are now 5-2 overall and 3-1 in PFL play, putting USD in a good position with just four games left.
The Toreros travel to De Moines, Iowa to play against PFL competitor Drake University on Nov. 1. The game will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET.