By John Bombatch
DAYTON — It may have taken a bit too long to get things going for Central State University in Saturday’s 31-19 college football loss to the University of Dayton, but the fourth quarter may be something the Marauders can build off of for this week’s game.
CSU coach Cedric Pearl would just appreciate if his team would get going without first digging itself into a hole.
“We’ve just gotta execute better,” Pearl said. “You can’t turn the ball over against a good team like the University of Dayton. The first half, we just couldn’t execute and that’s on me. My job is to get them ready to play.”
A couple CSU turnovers, some defensive miscues and a fumbled snap helped set up Dayton’s five scoring drives. By the time Central State began to roll offensively, UD had sat most of its starters and there was barely half of the game’s final quarter left to play.
But CSU made the most of that time.The Marauders capitalized on a 45-yard Lavon Meeks to Marquis Wells pass to eventually score — on De’Michael Jackson’s 1-yard run — with 7:24 left in the game. The extra point sailed wide, but the Marauders were on the scoreboard trailing 31-6.
With UD’s backup QB in the lineup, the Flyers punted on their next possession. Clim Robbins took that punt and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. Another extra point failed, but the score was now 31-12.
Two plays later, CSU recovered a Flyer fumble on Dayton’s 44-yard line with 3:58 left to play. With help from a nice Meeks 41-yard pass to Darian Nelson, Jackson scored from 3 yards out barely 13 seconds later. Cedarville grad-turned-Marauder freshman placekicker Everett Harding Jr. recorded his first collegiate extra point and Central State was down by just 11 points, 31-20.
AND THEN Harding skipped an onside kick on the kickoff and recovered it on the Marauders’ 47. After a Meeks run put the Marauders on the UD 39 with 2:59 left to play, Flyers defensive back David Leisring picked off the next pass to end the CSU threat.
“We expected a run-heavy offense from (Central State), but when they started passing a bit we had to make a few adjustments at halftime,” Leisring, who had two interceptions in the game, said. “That’s not exactly how we wanted to do it. We made a lot of mistakes out there, but we’ll have to eliminate those mistakes next week.”
Pearl said he liked what he saw from his team in the second half.
“When we made those adjustments, we played a lot better in the second half,” he said. “But you just can’t start slow like we did against a team like Dayton.”
BAND LEADERS — Several University of Dayton fans, as well as a few people in the Welcome Stadium pressbox, could be seen recording the Central State Marching Band’s halftime performance on their phones. When the Marching Marauders finished, an even larger number of UD fans gave the band members a standing ovation.
LET’S DO IT AGAIN — Dayton coach Rick Chamberlin said he hopes the two schools can continue the neighborhood series for many years to come. “I wouldn’t mind if we continued playing each other. They’re a good team. I told coach Pearl to look at their schedule for the next couple years, to see if we can fit this in. It all depends on conference games and how it all falls into place, but I know Central State would be a good challenge for us every year, because Coach Pearl is getting them better. It would be a good game for both of us.”
GENDER EQUITY — Saturday’s game featured two female game officials. Amanda Saur served as the head referee, and Nikki Randolph was one of the game’s side judges.
CHICAGO BOUND — Central State will take on Clark-Atlanta University in the Chicago Classic, Saturday in the famed Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago. Scheduled as a home game for CSU, the two teams jumped at the chance to play the game on the home field of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears. Kickoff will be 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Saturday, Sept. 10