Red edges White in UD Spring Game
DAYTON – Two Will Bobek-to-Ryan Skibinski touchdown passes in the final 36 seconds of the second quarter were enough to give the Red team a 14-13 over White Sunday afternoon in an abbreviated spring game for the University of Dayton football team. With the game being played in an increasingly steady downpour and more expected on the way, the game was called at halftime.
Everyone in attendance, except for the members of the White team, concurred with that decision.
"It was starting to rain even harder, so for the safety of the players and for the fans in attendance, we decided to cut it short," head coach Rick Chamberlin said. "We were able to run 53 plays and I believe almost everyone had a chance to see some action so we accomplished what we wanted to today."
As is the tradition at UD's Spring Game, the next season's team captains were announced at the pre-game coin flip. Rising senior offensive tackle Ben Gauthier and redshirt senior defensive end Nick Surges were named 2018 team captains. Team captains are voted on by the team after the last spring practice, and results are kept secret until Sunday's coin flip.
Gauthier will be entering his fourth season as a starter in 2018. He started all 12 games at guard as a true freshman on UD's 2015 playoff team, moved to tackle as a sophomore and started 10 of the 11 games he played and then started all 11 games at tackle last year.
Hailing from Avon, Ohio near Cleveland, Gauthier played on a state championship team at St. Edward High School. He won Dayton's Stan Kurdziel Most Valuable Lineman Award in 2017. He has earned All-Pioneer Football League honors the last two years. Gauthier is also a three-time member of the PFL Academic Honor Roll.
Surges is a captain for the second consecutive season. He has also received All-PFL recognition the last two seasons and has been on the PFL Academic Honor Roll the last three years.
In 2017, he started all 11 games and was in on 49 tackles. He was the 2017 winner of UD's Emil Karas Award for inspirational leadership. The Flyer spring fitness champion is from the Chicago area. He played at Benet Academy, and is from Naperville.
Just before the opening kickoff, the coaches' choice for special teams captain was also announced. Matt Tunnacliffe, a rising senior who is UD's long snapper and also plays on the kickoff return teams was selected. Tunnacliffe also started every game at wideout for the Flyers in 2017. He was Honorable Mention All-PFL, and also won two coveted team awards – the Lt. Andy Zulli Trophy for character and the A.J. Cohen Flyer of the Year Award for attitude. He is from the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester and played his high school ball at Fenwick.
Once the game got started the weather made it tough for the offenses to consistently move the ball. The game's first TD was set up with a short field when freshman linebacker Andrew Holderer intercepted a tipped pass. Quarterback Alex Jeske hit Kevin Bickett 23 yards to get the ball on the one-yard line, and running back Troy Vincent ran it in to give White a 7-0 lead.
Red moved the ball deep into White territory, but turned it over on downs. Jeske led White on the only extended scoring series on the day, completing five of seven passes on the drive. The last nine yards were a Jeske-to-Steve Fleming TD pass. The PAT was wide left, but White led 13-0 after one quarter.
The score remained that until late in the second quarter when safety Matt Clifford intercepted a pass to give Red the ball on the White 36. Bobek hit Skibinski in the end zone to make score 13-7. After White was unable to convert on fourth down, Red maybe had time to run two plays with 11 seconds to with the ball on the White 33-yard line. They didn't need to run two plays as Bobek hit Skibinski on a crossing pattern at the 20, and Skibinski out-ran two defenders to the pylon for his second TD.
Redshirt sophomore kicker Joseph Bruni lined up to not only give Red the lead, but to also personally atone for his previous miss. Because the kickers and punters were playing for both teams, it was simply his turn to kick, and as the rain came down as hard as it had all day, he nailed it to make the final score 14-13 in favor of Red.
Following the game, the team moved indoors and members of the 2018 recruiting class in attendance were paired with their "Big Brother." Each incoming freshman is paired with an upperclassman who helps them adjust to college football heading into their first season on campus.
"It was a really good way to wrap up our spring," Chamberlin said. "We've had a competitive spring, and we had some good plays on both sides today."
UD opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 1 against Robert Morris at Welcome Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m. ET.