Mills makes USD history in overtime loss
By Hunter Jameson
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
The Torero football team traveled to Dayton, Ohio to face the Dayton University Flyers with both teams fighting for a spot at the top of the Pioneer Football League. Coming into the game, Torero senior quarterback Mason Mills had the opportunity to break the all-time passing yards record for his career. He needed 181 yards and finished with 278 passing yards, making him the all-time leader in passing yards for Torero football with 9, 797. He surpassed current NFL quarterback Josh Johnson, who previously held the record with 9,699 yards. Although the feat was noteworthy, Dayton did not care and would continue to respond with a counter punch to every big play the Toreros produced.
USD scored first on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mason Mills to senior running back Joe Ferguson. After a tough goal-line stand by Dayton, senior quarterback Will Bardo scored on a 61-yard run after starting the drive on the team’s own 1-yard line. Bardo’s success continued as he hit senior wide receiver Gabe Macis for a three-yard touchdown. The showdown between Mills and Bardo became apparent when shortly after the Dayton touchdown, Mills found senior wide receiver Sam Hoekstra for a 15 yard touchdown pass.
Going into halftime the score was tied at 14 but Dayton would come out firing in the third quarter. Sophomore running back Conor Kacsor scored on an eight yard run followed by a 32-yard field goal by kicker William Will making the score 24-14. Mills would respond with two straight touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Brandon White. These 2-yard and 18-yard touchdowns gave the Toreros a 28-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Toreros widened the lead to 31-24 on a 38-yard field goal from sophomore kicker David Last. Dayton was not fazed, coming up with an 87-yard drive that ended in a touchdown, tying the game at 31 with just 27 seconds remaining. The game would go into overtime after the Toreros failed to score in regulation.
Mills found junior wide receiver Reggie Bell for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime, giving Dayton one more chance to tie the score at 38. Dayton found a way and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run from Kacsor. Dayton possessed the ball first in the second overtime and Bardo ran it in from 1-yard out to give the Flyers the lead at 45-38. In their last chance on offense, Mills failed to find the end zone on four straight pass incompletions and Dayton walked away with the victory.
Mills was very impressive throughout the game, finishing with five touchdown passes and 278 yards. Reggie Bell was the Torero’s leading receiver with 107 yards on seven catches and one touchdown. Running back Joe Ferguson also contributed with 167 yards rushing and a touchdown. Brandon White also had two receiving touchdowns. For Dayton, quarterback Will Bardo had an impressive day in the air and on the ground. He finished with 225 passing yards and two touchdowns and 136 yards rushing with two more touchdowns. On defense, the Toreros were led by senior linebacker Michael Ruffino with 15 tackles, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. Senior linebacker Zach Devaney also had 10 tackles.
Looking ahead, the Toreros have an important game at home on Sat. Oct. 26 against the undefeated Butler University Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. At 3-1, the Toreros look to improve their Pioneer League record and knocking off first-place Butler would be a huge step in the right direction.