The Pioneer Football League Report: Week 9

Tuesday, October 26, 2021
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations


Butler at Dayton, 1 p.m.
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Stadium: Welcome Stadium
Series: Dayton leads, 32-12-1    Streak: Dayton, 6 wins
Last Meeting: Dayton def. Butler, 51-38 (11/23/19)

Stetson at Presbyterian, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Clinton, South Carolina
Stadium: Bailey Memorial Stadium
Series: Presbyterian leads, 9-0-2    Streak: Presbyterian, 1 win
Last Meeting: Presbyterian def. Stetson, 26-3 (4/3/21)

Davidson at Morehead State, 2 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Morehead, Kentucky
Stadium: Jayne Stadium
Series: Morehead State leads, 14-8    Streak: Davidson, 2 wins
Last Meeting: Davidson def. Morehead State, 24-21 (3/27/21)

Marist at St. Thomas, 2 p.m.
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Stadium: O’Shaughnessy Stadium
Series: First Meeting

Valparaiso at San Diego, 4 p.m.
Location: San Diego, California
Stadium: Torero Stadium
Series: San Diego leads, 20-6    Streak: Valparaiso, 1 win
Last Meeting: Valparaiso def. San Diego, 20-19 (4/17/21)

Off Week: Drake


There will be only one team atop the PFL standings after Week 9 as the league’s two unbeaten teams, Davidson and Morehead State, square off in Kentucky. Davidson is out to a 4-0 PFL start thanks to its PFL best 45.5 points per game in league play and 320.8 rushing yards per game which is nearly 125 yards more than the No. 2 team in the league. Morehead State is No. 3 in league scoring (35.3 ppg) and bosts the league’s No. 2 passing offense at 357.5 yards per game… A pair of one-loss teams also face off as Marist travels west to face St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. St. Thomas boasts a 3-1 PFL mark in its first season thanks to a impressive defense that has held four PFL teams to an average of 11.8 points per game – best in the league. Marist, which dropped to 3-1 after last week’s loss, is ranked No. 3 in PFL scoring defense, surrendering just 17.8 points per game… One-loss San Diego continues its homestand as it hosts Valparaiso in another matchup of the league’s No. 4 and No. 5 defenses… San Diego is the No. 4 defense, allowing 22.2 points per game, but also is the No. 2 offense at 35.4 points per outing. Valparaiso has permitted just 24 points in four league outings, but has scored 26.5 points per game… Presbyterian travels to Stetson with both teams, under first-year head coaches, seeking their first PFL victory on the field in 2021. It is a matchup of teams at opposite ends of the offensive spectrum this season with Presbyterian averaging 547.5 offensive yards per game, leading the PFL, while Stetson has averaged 346.7 yards per game…
Butler hosts Dayton in a matchup of teams evenly matched defensively (Dayton’s 32.6 ppg vs. Butler’s 34.8 ppg). Dayton’s offensive may prove the difference maker, entering the weekend averaging 34.8 points per game (4th in the PFL) while Butler is averaging 13.4 points per game in five league outings. 

Morehead State is off to its first 4-0 PFL start since 2002 thanks to Mark Pappas’ touchdown throw to Matt Guilfoil with 62 seconds remaining for a 27-24 victory at Marist. Morehead State’s Mark Pappas completed 32-of-52 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Austin Day led Marist with 202 yards passing and 54 yards rushing… Davidson used 21 points in both the third and fourth quarters to build a 28-point lead and held on for a 49-35 PFL victory at Butler. The Wildcats ran for five touchdowns and 363 yards, Aris Hilliard rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on four carries. Bret Bushka led Butler with a 21-for-32 passing, 166-yard outing that included a pair of touchdown throws… Valparaiso scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to defeat Dayton, 45-28, for its first victory in the series since 2017. Valparaiso’s Robert Washington ran for three touchdowns as part of his 20-carry, 91-yard outing. Dayton quarterback Jack Cook completed 16-of-36 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown but threw two interceptions… San Diego scored the game’s first 23 points and broke the game open with a 27-point third quarter to post a 69-28 victory at Presbyterian. The Toreros ran for 240 yards and six touchdowns with five different runners finding the end zone. Presbyterian quarterback Ren Hefley threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns as part of a 31-for-43 passing effort… The Pioneer Football League canceled the Drake-Stetson football game scheduled for Week 8 due to COVID-19 issues within Drake’s Tier I personnel. In accordance with PFL policies, the game was declared a forfeit.

San Diego’s Dale Lindsey became the fourth head coach to record 50 career PFL victories with the Torero’s win at Butler, Oct. 9. He joins Dayton’s Rich Chamberlin (72), Dayton’s Mike Kelley (55), and Jacksonville’s Kerwin Bell (51) as coaches with 50-plus wins. That group still could grow by two this season with Marist’s Jim Parady (49) a win away and Butler’s Jeff Voris (48) two wins away from joining the exclusive group.

The Pioneer Football League canceled the Drake-Stetson football game scheduled for Saturday, October 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, due to COVID-19 issues within Drake’s Tier I personnel. In accordance with PFL policies, the game was declared a forfeit. The PFL standings reflect the game as a forfeit as required by league policy. However, the overall record for both teams is unchanged in accordance with NCAA policies which consider it “no contest.”

With San Diego’s 69-point performance in a league victory against Presbyterian, seven of the FCS’s 24 games with 60-plus points have been put forth by PFL teams. The FCS’ top three are Presbyterian with 84 points against St. Andrews, Butler with 77 points against Taylor University, and Davidson with 76 points against Presbyterian. San Diego moves into sixth with its 69-point outing, Presbyterian is eighth with a 68-point effort, Dayton is 13th with 63 points and Morehead State is 18th with a 62-point affair.

Furthering the league’s offensive mindset in 2021, four of the league’s 11 members are ranked in the FCS’ Top 50 in scoring offense. Presbyterian ranks No. 4 (41.1 ppg) followed by Davidson (6th, 40.0), Morehead State (13th, 35.4), and Dayton (43rd, 27.7). San Diego jumped to 52nd after its Week 8 performance, aveaging 26.4 points per game.

Presbyterian’s Ren Hefley and Morehead State’s Mark Pappas are both ranked among the FCS Top 10 in passing entering this week’s action. Hefley is second in the FCS with 2,751 passing yards in seven games (393.0 ypg), including 28 touchdown tosses. Pappas is eighth nationally with 2,160 yards in seven games (308.6 ypg), and has thrown 19 touchdown passes.

Presbyterian freshman wideout Jalyn Witcher and Morehead State senior receiver BJ Byrd are second and fifth, respectively, in FCS receiving yardage. Witcher has caught 53 passes for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Byrd has 60 receptions for 764 yards and nine touchdowns for the Eagles. They are among the FCS Top 5 in receptions per game as well, Byrd and his 8.6 receptions per game ranks No. 2 while Witcher and his 7.6 receptions per game ranks No. 4.