Pioneer Football League Reviews: Week 13

San Diego heads into the FCS national playoffs on a high note.

The Toreros secured a fourth straight trip to the postseason following their 47-28 win over Jacksonville as the 2019 regular season came to a close Saturday.

San Diego will play at Northern Iowa on Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The winner of that game will advance to play at South Dakota State the following weekend. The Jackrabbits were the No.7 seed in the playoffs, despite their upset loss this past weekend to rival South Dakota.

This marked the fourth consecutive year USD ran the table in conference play and finished 8-0 against league foes. The win also ran its conference winning streak to 37 and moves the Toreros to within two of the FCS record of 39 straight conference wins established by Duquesne (1999-2006).

Dayton and Drake finished tied for second place in the league standing with identical 6-2 records, while Davidson placed fourth after compiling a 5-3 record.  Marist and Stetson shared fifth place with 4-4 records in the league. Morehead State (3-5) and Butler (2-6) occupy the next two slots, while Jacksonville and Valparaiso finished at the bottom of the standings after winning just once during conference play this season.

Marquee: Drake Defense Rises To Stop Davidson 

With the game in the balance Drake’s defense rose to the occasion to thwart any comeback hopes Davidson had as the Bulldogs edged the Wildcats 31-28 on Saturday.

Drake overcame a pair of deficits in the first half by scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final 5:36 of the second quarter to build a 21-14 lead at halftime. Davidson would get no close than three points in the second half.

The Drake defense turned Davidson over on downs on each of its final two possessions of the game to end any comeback hopes and seal the victory.

Wide receiver Alex Bray threw 13 yards to Erin Morgan on a trick play with 5:54 left in the opening half to move the two teams into a 14-14 tie. Devin Cates later caught a short pass from QB Ian Corwin and turned it into a four-yard scoring play with just 18 seconds remaining in the half.

Nathan DeBruin’s 21-yard field goal early in the third period extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to 24-14. Davidson closed that gap to 24-21 on a three-yard run by Eli Turner with 6:25 to play in the period.

The two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth period. Drake’s Drew Lauer scored on another four-yard pass from Corwin to a 31-21 advantage with 14:16 to play. Wesley Dugger closed the scoring in the game on a two-yard run for the Wildcats less than six minutes later.

Dugger provided Davidson with the first points of the game on a one-yard burst at 4:00 of the opening period. Drake responded to the score with one of its own on a five-yard Lauer run with 1:09 left in the first quarter. That drive covered 68 yards and took seven plays.

Kahleel Shaw put the Wildcats back in front on a 31-yard run at 11:28 of the second period and Drake answered again. Bray connected with Erin Morgan caught his only pass of the game from 13 yards out to tie the game at 14-14 with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter before Cate’s TD reception put the Bulldogs in front to stay.

Corwin, a freshman, finished the game with 146 yards passing after completing 10 of 14 passes and the two scores. Lauer, meanwhile, led the way on the ground with 127 yards on 25 carries. He also added 63 yards through the air after being on the receiving end of three passes and accounted for 190 dual purpose yards on the afternoon. Cates caught two passes for 36 yards in the game.

Dugger sparked a Davidson rushing attack that was the lone bright spot on the afternoon for the Wildcats. He carried 27 times for 109 yards and Shaw chipped in with 65 yards on seven carries for Davidson, which finished with 306 rushing yards on 66 carries in the game.

The Wildcats managed just 14 yards through the game for Davidson. All of those yards came Eli Turner’s only pass attempt, a trick play to QB Tyler Phelps, who finished day without a completion after going to the air six times

Dayton’s Quick Start Keys Triumph

Butler’s early lead lasted all of just 132 seconds before Dayton used an offensive explosion by scoring 31 straight points to build a commanding lead on the way to a 51-38 over the Bulldogs on Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

The Flyers got a big passing day from Jack Cook and had two players rush for more than 100 yards as the Dayton offense racked up 608 yards of total offense as UD finished the season with a 6-2 conference record and a mark of 8-3 overall. Butler, meanwhile, dropped to 2-6 in the PFL and 3-9 on the year with the loss.

Drew Bevelhimer connected on a 36-yard field goal early in the first quarter to give Butler a quick 3-0 lead with 10:21 remaining in the first quarter. It would turn out to be the only lead of the game for the Bulldogs.

That was Cook got things rolling for the Flyers. He connected on a 12-yard scoring pass to Ryan Skibinski to cap a 75-yard drive that took just five plays as Dayton moved in front 7-3 at the 8:06 mark.

Less than four minutes later Cook found Adam Trautman on a six-yard pass play for a 14-3 lead with 4:17 remaining in the opening period of play. 

Sam Webster nailed a 31-yard field goal in the final minute of the quarter that allowed the Flyers to increase their lead to 17-3 at the first break.

The Cook-to-Skibinski connection added two more touchdowns in the second period on plays of nine and 38 yards as the Flyers virtually put the game out of reach. They led 31-3 at that point with 8:39 to go before halftime.

Nick Orlando scored for Butler on runs of 41 and five yards, the last coming with just five seconds remaining in the half. Dayton’s Sean Prophit ran in from four yards out in between Orlando’s scoring jaunts and the Flyers had a 38-17 advantage at the intermission.

Cook opened the scoring in the second half when ran in from four yards out to increase the Dayton lead to 45-17 midway through the third quarter. Webster added field goals of 39 and 30 yards in the second half to finish the scoring for the victors.

Orlando managed to make things look respectable by scoring three times in the second half.  He scored on runs of six, 11 and three yards.

Cook ended the day with 292 yards of total offense. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 273 yards and added 19 yards on the ground after carrying the ball four times. He accounted for five total touchdowns in the contest.

Chisholm was the workhorse out of the backfield and led the Flyers with 166 yards on 21 carries and Prophit was not far behind. He had 133 on just six carries and averaged 22.2 yards each time he ran the ball. That impressive mark was aided in part by a 65-yard scamper.

Skibinski finished the day with eight catches for 144 yards and his three touchdowns, while Trautman hauled in five passes for 57 and the one TD. 

Orlando, who scored five touchdowns on the afternoon, was the highlight of the Butler offense with 158 rushing yards on 16 carries. QB Sam Brown ended with 243 yards through the air after completing 15 of his 33 pass attempts. Nate Rush and Johnny O’Shea combined for nine of Brown’s successful tosses. Rush caught four passes for a team-high 87 yards and O’Shea caught five passes for 69 yards.

Toreros Make PFL History

San Diego Jolo Binda had a record-setting day by rushing for 147 yards and scoring four touchdowns to spark San Diego to a 47-28 win over Jacksonville on Saturday.

And when needed to the most, the USD defense rose to occasion, by stopping the Dolphins after pulling to within three points during the game. A costly fumble on a potential go-ahead drive in the final quarter also thwarted Jacksonville on the day.

The Toreros forced two fumbles on the afternoon and intercepted a pair of passes.

The fumble that hurt the most came when Myles Wilson forced the turnover and teammate Jacob Bergstrom recovered to set San Diego up for a short drive that covered 37 yards and took five plays. The drive was capped by Reid Sinnett’s one-yard run to give USD a 40-28 lead with 4:58 left to go in the game. Binda would take on a one-yard run for the final score with 2:05 left in the contest. 

Binda tallied 147 rushing yards in the game on 26 carries. He scored on runs of five, nine and two runs of one yard on the day. His four touchdowns tied a San Diego school record for most rushing TDS in a game. Sinnett, meanwhile, completed 14 of 21 passes for 266 yards. Bennett Dondoyano caught three passes for 100 yards and teammate Michael Bandy added a team-high five receptions for 82 yards.

Calvin Turner led the Dolphins 277 yards of total offense in the game. He ran 23 times for 172 yards and two scores and added another touchdown through the air when he completed a pass to A.J. Davis on a play that covered 60 yards that allowed Jacksonville to pull to within 17-14 with 42 seconds left to go in the first half. It was the only catch of the day for Davis.

Hatters End Season On High Note

Gaven DeFilippo threw for three touchdowns and added another on the ground and that was more than enough to help Stetson defeat Morehead State 31-16 on Saturday. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and allowed the Hatters to finish in a tie for fifth place in the final PFL standing.

Two off DeFilippo’s scoring passes came in the second quarter and allowed Stetson to take a 14-6 lead into halftime.

The first score came when he connected with Max Draper from 12 yards out to give the Hatters a 7-6 lead with 8:16 left in the opening half. It would be a lead they would never relinquish. He connected with Draper again, this time on play that covered 74 yards at the 4:18 mark as Stetson forged its lead at the intermission.

DeFilippo added to that lead in the early portion of the second half when Jeremiah Nails scored on a nine-yard pass play to increase the Stetson lead to 21-6 with 11:28 remaining in the second period.

Morehead State would respond on a one-yard run from Issiah Aguero with 7:03 remaining to pull to within 21-13. They would draw even closer when Andrew Foster booted a 40-yard field goal with 12:29 left in the game to make the score 21-16.

It would be the final points of the game for the Eagles.

Jonny Messina hit a field goal from 24 yards away midway through the final quarter and DeFillippo would run in from 32 yards out with just 3:48 left to go to end the scoring on the day.

Morehead State got on the board first in the opening period when Aaron Turk returned a fumble 77 yards for a touchdown. The conversion pass failed and the Eagles held a 6-0 lead with 10:28 to go in the first quarter.

DeFilippo accounted for 321 of total offense to lead the way for the Hatters. He completed for 19 of 38 passes for 230 yards and added another 91 yards on the ground on eight rushing attempts.

Jalen Leary paced the Stetson in rushing with 97 yards on 15 carries and Draper accrued 101 yards on four receptions. Tony Gilotti registered a team-high nine catches in the game.

Zach Hardin completed 14 of 23 passes for 137 yards for MSU. Aguero totaled 123 yards rushing after carrying the ball 23 times. He also added 35 more yards on four pass receptions.

Electrifying Return Secures Marist Win

Scoring came in bunches when Marist and Valparaiso got together for the season finale. Good thing the Red Foxes tallied one more bunch that the homestanding Bulldogs.

Marist scored the final 10 points of the game, all in a span of 2:20 in the fourth quarter to turn away Valparaiso 26-14 on Saturday.

After the Crusaders closed to within 16-14, Marist’s Luke Paldino kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the visitors a 19-16 advantage and a little breathing room 2:40 left in the game. 

What happened near the end simply took the wind out of the Crusaders.

After driving to the Marist 11 in the closing seconds Andrew McElroy intercepted a Chris Duncan pass and returned it 90 yards with just 20 seconds left to slam the door on the Valpo comeback bid.

Duncan had passed nine yards to Ollie Reese with pull the Crusaders to within 16-14 and set the stage for the dramatic finish.

Marist scored the first 16 points of the game. The first points came in the first quarter when Hunter Cobb scampered in from 16 yards with 9:56 to go. Paladino added a 28-yard field goal early in the second quarter and Cobb broke loose for a 60-yard scoring jaunt to move the Red Foxes in front with 5:42 to go in the first half.

That was when Valparaiso score its points. Duncan passed three yards to JD Koehler with 24 seconds remaining before halftime to put the Crusaders on the board. Duncan hit Brett Bittner for the two-point conversion to account for the 16-8 score at the intermission.

Luke Strnad and Matt Edwards both saw action at quarterback for Marist. Strnad finished with 147 passing yards after completing 10 of 18 passes. Edwards was successful on seven of 11 throws for 83 yards on the afternoon.

Cobb led the way on the ground. He had 92 yards on 18 carries for the Red Foxes. Anthony Olivencia led the receivers with 102 yards on three receptions.

Duncan did manage a respectable 232 yards through the air for the Crusaders but was held to just 17 completions on 43 attempts. He was intercepted twice. Duncan had a team-best 18 rushing yards on 18 carries as Valpo was limited to just 12 total rushing yards on the afternoon. 

Deuce Larose, Reese and Koehler combined to catch 12 passes on the day. Larose tallied a team-high 90 yards, while Reese and Koehler finished with 52 and 51 yards, respectively.

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