All good things, as they say, must come to an end, and for the UD football team one good thing came to an end Saturday — with 0:04 on the clock staring them in the face at Joe Walton Stadium.
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — The game was 30-minutes over as University of Dayton football coach Rick Chamberlin stood outside the visitor’s locker-room at Joe Walton Stadium.
The game official emerged from their dressing quarters and Chamberlin greeted them with a smile and said, “Nicely done, guys. You guys did a great job. I didn’t see anything wrong — except the score on the scoreboard.”
Robert Morris 13, University of Dayton 10.
The Flyers owned a 15-game winning streak against Robert Morris University, a school that gives 45 football scholarships to UD’s zero.
And UD’s overall record against RMU was 17-and-2 when Saturday afternoon’s game began.
Three hours later, RMU freshman kicker Nick Bisceglia kicked a 26-yard field goal with 0:04 second remaining to give RMU a 13-10 victory.
“Nobody ever runs away with any of these games between us and RMU,” said Chamberlin. “We have always seemed to be able to make the big plays. This time they made the big plays. It is going to happen.”
The Flyers owned the football with 2:45 left and the score tied, 10-10. Quarterback Kyle Kaparos threw a swing pass that was completed to Kyle Butz. But as he turned to swing upfield, he was stripped of the football and RMU set up at Dayton’s 28 with two minutes left. Five plays later the ball was on the 12 and Bisceglia applied the final puncture wound.
“This is something we preach and preach and emphasize,” said UD coach Rich Chamberlin. “It is the turnover battle and the kicking game. I don’t care how many yards you get on offense or how physical you are on defense, if you won’t win those two you won’t win. And today was an example of that, a great example.”
Although RMU kicked UD’s dominance to the sidelines, the Flyers had their chance. With 5 1/2 minutes left, the Flyers tried a field goal from 44 yards out.
True freshman Patrick Sandler won the place-kicking assignment on Tuesday. On Saturday he was kicking in his first collegiate game. His first field goal attempt hit the left upright. His second attempt was good, a 25-yard field goal with 4:12 left in the half that gave the Flyers a 10-0 lead.
But with 5 1/2 minutes left in a 10-10 game, his 44-yarder missed.
It would have been easy for Chamberlin to dismiss this loss due to quarterback inexperience. Alex Jeske, a team captain and last year’s leading passer and rusher is out with an ankle injury.
That dropped the game into the lap of Kyle Kaparos, who not only had never completed a collegiate pass, he had never thrown one. Nor had he carried the ball.
But he completed the first pass he attempted, threw a touchdown pass in the first half and enerally acquitted himself with poise and composure.
“I was pleased with Kyle,” said Chamberlin. “I thought he did an outstanding job. He didn’t throw an interception, he didn’t cause a fumble. That was good and he hit some very good passes.”
Kaparos was 3 for 3 for 3 for 39 yards in the first quarter that included a 16-yard touchdown pass to M. Tunnacliffe that gave the Flyers a 7-0 lead. And he finished the game 13 for 18 for 122 yards.
There was a time when he could have taken a large loss, a mammoth sack, but he had the wherewithal to throw the ball away.
“That just shows the savvy he has and that’s what we saw him in to make him the quarterback,” said Chamberlin. “That’s why we felt comfortable starting him today.”
The missing piece was Jeske’s ability to run and there were times when Kaparos could have tucked and run but he ran only four times for 11 yards.
RMU quarterback Jimmy Walker is no relations to former New York City mayor Jimmy Walker, but the RMU Walker is the mayor of Coraopolis today. He hit 14 of 29 passes for 198 yards that included a 72-yarder in the third quarter to Tavin Allison that tied the game, 10-10.
Jeske’s rushing yardage was picked up by running-back Tucker Yinger. The 6-0, 190-pounder senior from Columbus played heft-that-load all afternoon —24 carries for 107 yards and four pass receptions for 25 more yards.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, who had their seven-game winning streak carried over from last season snapped, they had a couple of late-game short yardage third-down conversion attempts go awry.
“You have to convert those, you just have to if you want to keep those drives moving. You have to keep the chains moving and there were two of them that set us back, forced us to punt,” said Chamberlin.
“We had our moment but we lacked consistency,” he added. “It was our first game with a lot of new kids on the road, a new quarterback.”
Even though RMU rolled up 335 yards of total offense, the most for the Colonials since November of 2015, Chamberlin was pleased with his defense that gave up only one touchdown — the 72-yard sneak attack.
“I like the way they rose to the moment several times,” he said. “After one of our turnovers (two fumbles) or one of their big plays they could have given into it, but they held them to one touchdown and two field goals.”
Andy McCormick was the defensive dandy with 11 tackles that included two tackles for losses and one sack. Jack Crain had six solo tackles and three assisted tackles.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Flyers next Saturday in their home opener. They lost Division I Southeast Missouri (65 scholarships to none for UD. Southeast Missouri opened their season this week playing at the University of Kansas.