The Pioneer Football League Report: Week 5

Thursday, September 28, 2023
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations


Stetson at Marist, Noon
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York    Stadium: Tenney Stadium
Series: MAR leads, 7-2    Streak: MAR, three wins
Last Meeting: Marist def. Stetson, 45-31 (2022)

Presbyterian at Butler, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: FloSports
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana    Stadium: Sellick Bowl
Series: First Meeting

San Diego at Davidson, 1 p.m.
Location: Davidson, North Carolina    Stadium: Richardson Stadium
Series: SAN leads, 13-4    Streak: SAN,
Last Meeting: San Diego def. Davidson, 31-14 (2022)

St. Thomas at Dayton, 1 p.m.
Broadcast: Facebook Live
Location: Dayton, Ohio    Stadium: Welcome Stadium
Series: First Meeting

Drake at Morehead State, 2 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Morehead, Kentucky    Stadium: Jayne Stadium
Series: DRA leads, 10-3    Streak: DRA,three wins
Last Meeting: Drake def. Morehead State, 36-17 (2019)

Southwest Minnesota State at Valparaiso, 2 p.m.
Broadcast: ESPN+
Location: Valparaiso, Indiana    Stadium: Brown Field
Series: First Meeting



All 11 PFL members will be in action during Week 5 of the season, with four PFL contests on the slate. After surviving a scare in its PFL opener, defending champion St. Thomas meets 12-time champion Dayton in the first-ever meeting between the teams. Meanwhile, a Davidson team that has represented the PFL in the last three FCS tournaments will host San Diego – the league’s other 12-time champion. Upstart Butler, which is off to a 3-1 start this season, hosts Presbyterian, which is seeking its first league win since officially joining the league in the 2021 season. After taking Week 4 off, Drake returns to action with its PFL opener at Morehead State, which narrowly missed upsetting St. Thomas on the road last week. Stetson heads up the east coast this week to face Marist, with that game kicking off the week’s action at noon on Saturday. Valparaiso steps out of league play this week to face Southwest Minnesota State for the first time in program history.


Butler, Marist, St. Thomas, and San Diego all picked up PFL wins in the first full week of league play, while Davidson rolled to a home non-conference win.

Butler 28, Stetson 18: Butler scored four rushing touchdowns, including two by Jyran Mitchell, to secure a 28-18 PFL victory against Stetson. Mitchell ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries to pace the Bulldogs. Stetson was held to 258 yards total offense.

Marist 36, Valparaiso 30 (OT): Amin Woods 25-yard walk-off touchdown in overtime helped Marist complete its from a 10-point deficit to claim a 36-30 PFL victory against Valparaiso. Quarterback Brock Bagozzi had a hand in all four Marist touchdowns in regulation, completing 20-of-35 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score. Wide receiver Solomon Davis led Valparaiso’s offense with 10 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

St. Thomas 35, Morehead State 28: Tat Takeoka found Jacob Wildermuth for a 26-yard touchdown with nine seconds remaining as St. Thomas kept the nation’s longest home win streak alive with a 35-28 PFL victory against Morehead State. Running back Shawn Shipman led St. Thomas with 16 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Morehead State quarterback Carter Cravens completed 20-of-44 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns to pace Morehead State.

San Diego 40, Dayton 25: San Diego raced out to a 27-3 lead in the opening 21:30 and made the early advantage stand up, downing Dayton 40-25. San Diego quarterback Grant Sergent completed 19-of-26 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns while running back Isaiah Williams ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Dayton quarterback Cole Dow passed for 76 yards and a touchdown and ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns.

Davidson 84, St. Andrews 6: Davidson rushed for 463 yards and nine touchdowns in an 84-6 nonconference victory against St. Andrews Saturday at Richardson Stadium. Davidson running back Aaron Maione ran for 55 yards and two touchdowns, while seven other runners scored touchdowns and 15 recorded at least one carry.


Stetson alumnus Donald Parham caught two touchdown passes, and Marist alum Jason Myers connected on five field goals to highlight Week 3 of the NFL season for the Pioneer Football League’s seven alumni. Here’s a quick look at their performances:

Jamal Agnew (San Diego) – Jacksonville | Agnew caught four passes for 49 yards and had three kick returns for 72 yards in Jacksonville’s loss to Houston.

Ross Dwelley (San Diego) – San Francisco | Dwelley was on the field for 12 offensive and 14 special teams snaps in San Francisco’s win against the New York Giants.

Josh Johnson (San Diego) – Baltimore | Johnson was listed as QB3 on the Baltimore depth chart but did not play in the Ravens’ loss at Tampa Bay.

Zion Johnson (Davidson) – L.A. Chargers | Johnson, an offensive lineman, saw action on all 66 offensive snaps in the Chargers win at Minnesota.

Jason Myers (Marist) – Seattle | Myers converted five field goal attempts and a pair of PATs in Seattle’s win against Carolina. It was the third time in his career he made five or more field goals in a game, joining a five-field-goal outing at Tennessee in 2018 and second only to a seven-field-goal performance against Indianapolis in 2018.

Donald Parham (Stetson) – L.A. Chargers | Parham set a career-high with two touchdown receptions in the Chargers’ victory at Minnesota. His only receptions on the day, he caught a three-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring and tacked on a one-yard TD catch just before halftime to help Los Angeles take a 14-10 lead into halftime.

Adam Trautman (Dayton) – Denver | Trautman was on the field for 54 offensive snaps and targeted twice in Denver’s loss at Miami.


The 2023 season marks the 31st year for the Pioneer Football League – the nation’s only non-scholarship, football-only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision conference. The league will feature 11 teams – tied for most in league history – each playing an eight-game schedule to determine the league champion and recipient of the automatic bid to the 2023 NCAA FCS Championship. Three Pioneer Football League student-athletes were among a record 201 semifinalists for the 2023 William V. Campbell Trophy, announced Wednesday by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.  Butler offensive lineman Bryan Bystol, Dayton wide receiver Derek Willits, and Marist linebacker/long snapper Justin Iaccio were among the group of 39 NCAA FCS student-athletes named to the semifinalist group. Celebrating its 34th year, the Campbell Trophy® recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership.


It’s been a rough start for quarterbacks across the league, with only one 300-yard passing performance through four weeks. That 300-yard effort came from Davidson signal-caller Coulter Cleland, who became the first Wildcats quarterback with a 300-yard passing game since 2014. In addition, the league has seen plenty of players take snaps this season, with 16 student-athletes throwing for 100 yards so far this season. Seven quarterbacks have averaged 20-plus pass attempts so far this season.


With their backfield mates battling to find consistency, the league’s running backs have found plenty of opportunity. Butler’s Jyran Mitchell (492 yards) and St. Thomas’ Shawn Shipman (415) lead the league’s back after four weeks. San Diego’s Isaiah Williams (353), Dayton’s Michael Neel (349), and Stetson’s Kaderris Roberts (326) also have surpassed the 300-yard mark in four games.


Despite its 1-3 start, San Diego has been a nightmare for opposing offenses, racking up an FCS-best 12 turnovers gained this season. USD is among a group of five teams with six or more fumbles recovered this season. The Toreros' six interceptions place them 13 teams with six or more picks in 2023. Meanwhile, San Diego’s offense has been stingy with the ball, ending Week 4 as one of only two teams in the FCS with one turnover lost in four games this season, joining FBS-bound Kennesaw State. After one month, USD leads the FCS with an impressive plus-2.75 turnover margin.


PFL members have been involved in four of the FCS’ eight overtime games through the season's first month. Marist and Valparaiso became the latest to need extra time to determine a victory in Week 4. It was the second straight time the two teams went to overtime in a game played on Brown Field in Valparaiso. Stetson, Drake, and San Diego played an overtime game in non-conference action.