The Pioneer Football League Report: Week 8

Monday, October 14, 2019
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations

Drake takes the week off after moving to 3-0 in Week 7 and will watch Dayton and San Diego attempt to improve to 3-0. Dayton stays on the road after a win at Valparaiso and heads to the other end of the conference with a game at Stetson, which is unbeaten at home and looking to keep pace in the PFL race. San Diego, now owners of the third longest conference win streak in FCS history (31 games), returns home to host Valparaiso. Morehead State hosts Butler while Davidson travels to Jacksonville with both the Eagles and Wildcats looking to keep pace in the early league race.

All times Eastern. 

[21/21] Dartmouth at Marist, Noon
Location: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Stadium: Tenney Stadium
Series: First Meeting

Davidson at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Stadium: D.B. Milne Field
Series: JAC leads, 14-7    Streak: DAV, one win
Previously: Davidson def. Jacksonville, 44-37 (2018)

Dayton at Stetson, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: DeLand, Florida
Stadium: Spec Martin Memorial Stadium
Series: DAY leads, 2-0    Streak: DAY, two wins
Previously: Dayton def. Stetson, 21-10 (2016)

Butler at Morehead State, 2 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Morehead, Kentucky
Stadium: Jayne Stadium
Series: MOR leads, 14-8    Streak: MOR, two wins
Previously: Butler def. Morehead State, 24-21 (2018)

Valparaiso at San Diego, 5 p.m.
Location: San Diego, California
Stadium: Torero Stadium
Series: SAN leads, 19-5    Streak: SAN, 13 wins
Previously: San Diego def. Valparaiso, 49-10 (2016)

Off Week: Drake


Dartmouth at Marist, Noon
Following its off week, Marist faces its second Ivy League opponent when No. 21 Dartmouth visits Tenney Stadium, Saturday. The Red Foxes return to action seeking to end a three-game losing streak that began with a loss to Ivy League foe Cornell in Week 4. Dartmouth has won six straight dating back to last season and moved into the Top 25 in both polls this week. Marist’s offense has been up-and-down through the first five games this season, with 200-yard performances alternating with 400-yard outings, most recently the Red Foxes were held to 245 offensive yards at San Diego in Week 6. RED FOX TO WATCH: Marist has not seen a runner or receiver go for more than 100 yards in each of its last three games. The Red Foxes will look to wide receiver Anthony Olivencia to break that streak and extend his team lead in receiving yards (379) and touchdowns (three).

Davidson at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Both Davidson and Jacksonville suffered home losses in Week 7, and they meet Saturday looking to rebound quickly. The Wildcats saw its offense shutout by San Diego in the second half, the first time this season it has been held scoreless in consecutive quarters in 2019. Jacksonville battled back from a 16-7 deficit to take the lead early in the fourth quarter but saw two scores in the final 2:31 unravel a potential win. Jacksonville saw an 11-game win streak against Morehead State snapped with the Week 7 loss and this week faces a Davidson team it owns a 10-game win streak against. WILDCAT TO WATCH: Wide receiver Jalen Staples led the Davidson offense contest against San Diego, picking up 76 yards on his four receptions, including a 54-yard catch-and-carry that set up Davidson for a touchdown that gave it a 17-10 lead with three minutes left. DOLPHIN TO WATCH: While Calvin Turner Jr. racked up his 10th career 100-yard rushing day, it was Garnett Nicolas who provided some much-needed support with a 123-yard outing. Nicolas is still seeking his first TD of the campaign despite ranking second on the Dolphins roster with 375 rushing yards.

Dayton at Stetson, 1 p.m.
Dayton has not lost to Stetson in two previous meetings between the teams, with the last meeting coming in 2016. However, Stetson owns a 4-0 record at Spec Martin Stadium and won three straight before taking its off week last week. Dayton is 3-0 on the road after a wire-to-wire win at Valparaiso last week, the first time it has not trailed in a game this season. Dayton has had to flat-out outscore opponents this season, surrendering at least 28 points in every game this season. Meanwhile, Stetson is unbeaten when scoring 30-plus points in 2019. FLYER TO WATCH: In his two PFL games, tight end Adam Trautman has been nearly unstoppable. He has amassed 229 yards on 16 receptions, seven of those going for touchdowns. Trautman has seven of Dayton’s 14 TDs in PFL play. HATTER TO WATCH: While Dayton has the league’s top scoring threat (Trautman), Stetson has the league’s No. 2 scorer in kicker Jonny Messina. He has kicked eight field goals this season and made each of his last six attempts. That streak includes the game-winner in the Hatters’ victory against Butler in Week 6. 

Butler at Morehead State, 2 p.m.
Morehead State picked up its first road win in nearly a year at Davidson and it returns to Jayne Stadium where it is 2-1 this season. Butler has lost seven straight away from Sellick Stadium, including three in 2019. The Bulldogs enjoyed one of their better offensive performances in their last road trip, scoring 27 points at Stetson in Week 6 as the passing game enjoyed its second 200-yard outing of 2019. The Eagles put up their first 400-yard offensive outing against an FCS team this season in the win at Jacksonville, showing off a near 50-50 split between its passing (206 yards) and running (208 yards) games. BULLDOG TO WATCH: In their last road contest, Bulldogs wide receiver Stephens Dennis put together the team’s first 100-yard receiving day. He caught five passes for 106 yards and a touchdown at Stetson and now leads Butler with 293 receiving yards on 20 catches this season. EAGLE TO WATCH: Running back Issiah Aguero opened last week’s win with his first touchdown reception and closed the game with his third touchdown run. He leads Morehead State with 660 all-purpose yards (110.0 yards per game) and leads the team with five touchdowns.

Valparaiso at San Diego, 5 p.m.
San Diego’s 31-game PFL win streak is certainly impressive, but the Toreros home win streak in PFL play is possibly more impressive. The Toreros have not lost to a PFL foe at home since Oct. 9, 2010, a streak of 30 home games (not counting its vacated 2013 PFL campaign) without losing to a PFL foe. Valparaiso ventures into San Diego after enjoying its best offensive outing of 2019, scoring 28 points and rushing for a season-best 299 yards against Dayton. It was the Crusaders’ first rushing performance this season of more than 100 yards. San Diego has not allowed a PFL foe to score in the second half this season, shutting out both Marist and Davidson en route to surrendering just 24 points in those two PFL outings. CRUSADER TO WATCH: Quarterback Chris Duncan broke through against Dayton, rushing for 154 yards and a score and passing for another 148 yards and a TD. He had not run for more than 88 yards in a game in his career. TORERO TO WATCH:  On a day that Reid Sinnett threw for 358 yards, wide receiver Michael Bandy caught touchdown passes on both sides of the halftime break to tie the game and give San Diego its first lead. Bandy finished with a team-best 118 receiving yards on nine catches.

Complete news and notes available in PDF version

With its win against Valparaiso in Week 7, San Diego’s extended its PFL win streak to 31 games. It is the third longest conference win streak in PFL history. It trails a 39-game win streak by Duquesne in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Association (1999-06) and a 36-game win streak by Jacksonville State of the Ohio Valley Conference (2013-18).

Morehead State kicker Andrew Foster became the second PFL athlete to earn STATS FCS weekly honors in 2019, picking up the organzization’s National FCS Special Teams Player of the Week award after Week 7 action. Foster made three field goals and scored 12 points as Morehead State downed Jacksonville, 30-22, for the first time since 2005. He became the second PFL kicker to convert twice from 40 yards in the same game this season, hitting from 45 and 43 yards while making all three of his field goal attempts.

Five Pioneer Football League student-athletes were named as semifinalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Mazada and The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. The five PFL student-athletes recognized as semifinalists were: Brad Sznajder, Butler; Ethan Steinbacher, Davidson; Tim Simon, Dayton; Andrew McElroy, Marist; and Gaven DeFilippo, Stetson.  That quintet joins a group that now includes 82 PFL student-athletes who have been named a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, or its predecessor the Draddy Trophy, since 1998.

Drake freshman Ian Corwin put it all together in his best performance and Drake’s first win of the season, 41-17 at Marist, Sept. 28. Corwin completed 20 of 29 passes (69 percent) for 255 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. The four touchdown passes went to four different receivers and were one more than he threw in the first three games combined.

Davidson running back Wesley Dugger pushed past the 2,500 career yard mark against Campbell, Sept. 21. One of two juniors among the FCS Top 10 Active Career Leaders, he is ranked fourth in total rushing yardage (2,731), averaging 105.0 yards per game. He is just ahead of Monmouth junior Pete Guerriero (2,594 yards) on the list. Dugger needs 561 yards to move into the PFL’s career Top 10 in rushing yards (3,292 yards, Drake’s Jonathan Taylor).

Seeing a PFL quarterback listed on the FCS Active Career Leaders list in passing efficiency is a normal occurrence. However, that quarterback not having San Diego next to their name is a new twist. Dayton signal caller Jack Cook is the FCS’ active career leader with a 165.65 career pass efficiency rating. That would rank second all-time on the PFL’s career pass efficiency list, behind San Diego’s Josh Johnson’s 176.68 mark (2004-07)

Meanwhile, San Diego wide receiver Michael Bandy moved past the 2,500 receiving yard plateau in Week 6. He now is ranked fifth among FCS active career leaders with 2,651 career receiving yards. Bandy needs just 256 yards to move into the PFL’s Top 10 in receiving yardage (2,907 yards, Morehead State’s Jake Raymond).

Drake’s defensive back Will Warner has interceptions in back-to-back games after nabbing a pass against Valparaiso and Butler. He now has 13 career interceptions, keeping him atop the list of the FCS’ active career leaders. He also moved into the PFL’s career Top 10 in interceptions with the pick against Butler.