The ‘Terrific Tandem’ of quarterback Jack Cook and running back Jake Chisholm, with some cameo appearances by the Bubonics Brothers, helped Dayton’s Flyers score a 41-13 victory over the Stetson University Hatters.
DeLAND, Fla. — There were enough pre-game bad omens and obstacles that nobody would blamed the University of Dayton football team for calling in sick Saturday afternoon to cancel its assignment at Stetson.
But credit the Flyers with a hang-in-there attitude as they kept their focus and poise for a 41-13 Pioneer Football League victory over Stetson University.
—Stetson fired its offensive coordinator last week so the Flyers weren’t certain if they would face the Notre Dame box, the single wing, the winged-T, the full house ’T,’ the spread, the run ’n shoot or something they’ve never seen before.
—The Sun Country Air charter hit every pocket of turbulence between Dayton and Orlando and the plane had more ups and downs than a Kings Island roller coaster.
—The plane sat on the Orlando tarmac for 40 minutes, waiting for three buses to show up before the Flyers could disembark.
—An all-day monsoon Friday forced the Flyers to cancel practice and wander the halls of the spacious Lake Mary Marriott.
Nevertheless, it was the Jack Cook Aerial Circus and Jake Chisholm Excavating Company that carried the day. And throw in a day for the Bubonics Brothers.
As usual, Cook and Chisholm were UD’s Terrific Tandem as Cook passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Chisholm crashed into the end zone for four touchdowns, three in the first quarter and one near game’s end as part of a clock-eater.
Chisholm covered 119 yards of grassy mud for his 23 carries and caught three Cook passes for 50 more yards and the pre-med student had the Hatters saying, “Oh, doctor.”
Perhaps the man with the best day was offensive coordinator Jim Collins, who dialed up all the right plays, especially the pass patterns against Stetson’s stubbornness of trying to play the UD receivers man-to-man.
That enabled Cook to find lonesome receivers like Bubonics, Kyle Hazell (four catches), Luke Brenner (three catches) and Chisholm (three catches, not including a long one for a touchdown that was called back.)
Cook used mostly RPO’s (run-pass options to put the Flyer at high RPM in the first quarter.
He hit nine straight passes for 137 yards, leading the Flyers to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
The Flyers flew to the end zone at warp speed after the kickoff. Four straight Cook completions put the ball on the five and Chisholm packed it in.
Stetson went three-and-out and it was the same script. This time Cook was 5 for 5, setting it up at the two for Chisholm to plow home again and it was 14-0 before Stetson knew what day it was.
The Flyers method was madness for Stetson. After the Hatters completed a 42-yard pass to the UD 19, a couple of stops in the backfield by Zach Rumpke on Stetson quarterback Alex Picirilli forced a field goal.
And it was back to the Cook-Chisholm partnership. Cook hit a 48-yard pass to freshman Luke Brenner, Chisholm did the dirty work again, scoring his third touchdown by breaking a couple of tackles to score from 15 yards and a 21-3 UD lead.
Cook’s perfection ended late in the first half when he threw an interception deep in Stetson terrain. And the Hatters went 95 yards for a touchdown. It was highlighted by a 42-yard scamper by Jalen Leary and a 12-yard sprint up the middle by quarterback Alex Piccirilli and the Hatters were within 21-10.
Then a mini-controversy. The Hatters twice gambled on fourth down and were rewarded with first down, including a 27-yard strike to the Flyers four with :02.6 seconds left in the half.
Piccirilli scrambled and scrambled and scrambled before hitting Nazeviah Burris in the end zone. Alas, he was called for offensive interference and Stetson settled for a field goal that cut the score to 21-13 at the half —a 14-0 Stetson run that cut UD’s lead from an 18-point lead to a precarious nine-point lead.
The Flyer offense, fairly dormant in the second quarter, took advantage of their halftime Gatorade and some pointed words from UD coach Rick Chamberlin, struck quickly on their first possession of the second half.
“We had some momentum going there until the interception, but then we came out in the second half and took control right away. We stopped ‘em on their first drive and our offense took off,” said Chamberlin.
On third and 12, Cook lofted one to Sam Bubonics on the left sideline and a Stetson defender fell. Bubonics then traveled 67 yards, diving into the end zone as he was being corralled. And it was Dayton 28, Stetson 13.
The Hatters advanced into UD’s red zone when the defensive half of the Bubonics, Joe, intercepted a pass to derail Stetson’s advance.
“Sam Bubonics? Oh my goodness,” said Chamberlin of his six catches. “It was the Bubonics Show today, wasn’t it? Joe (who made the interception) thought, ‘Hey, I better do something or my brother is going to get all the glory.’”
And it turned into the knockout punch when Cook nailed Brenner in the right corner of the end zone, a 21-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to push the Flyers to a 35-14 lead. To make it official, Chisholm carried seven times on a late-game 68-yard trip and he ripped through the final four yards to make it 41-13.
“That was good, playing that kind of game,” said Chamberlin. “We hadn’t really taken charge of a game like that.” Taking charge meant outscoring the Hatters 20-0 in the second half, enabling the Flyers to push their record to 5-4 and 4-3 in the PFL.
The defense was solid, other than trying to track down elusive Stetson quarterback Piccirilli. Stetson has used five quarterbacks this season and Piccirilli, the original starter, was back from injury. He ran on scrambles and draws 16 times for 114 yards, many of third and fourth down calls.
“We knew that going in, knew that a big part of his game was running the ball — called plays for him and scrambles,” said Chamberlin. “We let him get away from us too many times. That’s what kept the momentum away from us was the runs he got.”
But the Flyer ‘D’ shut down everything else and said Chamberlin, “After they scored and kicked a field goal right before halftime, I’m thinking they are going to come out in the second half and do what they just did.
“And they did. . .quarterback runs and deep throws,” said Chamberlin. “But our guys responded. They really did. Kept them in control much better the second half.”
And then, of course, when it was time to fly home, the Flyers couldn’t fly. Mechanical problems grounded their charter plane, causing a delay of several hours.