DAYTON - Dayton overcame a late rally by Wooster to win 19-17 Friday night.
"We didn't tackle very well in this game and that was huge for us," said Dayton coach Rob Turner. "We take a lot of pride in our defense and they just did not tackle very well. We knew they were going to run the ball up the middle. We had a tough time stopping that."
The Colts set the tone early, keeping the ball on the ground with a 12 play, 6:30 opening drive that ended in a 37-yard field goal.
Dayton miscues also were costly early on. The Dust Devils were forced to punt on their first possession after failing to gain any yardage. The punt was mishandled by the Wooster return man and Dayton appeared to recover the fumble. A false start nullified the play and Dayton had to punt again. This time the ball was downed at the Wooster 26. Another false start though, and Dayton had to punt again. This time, the kick was nearly blocked and Wooster ended up with much better field position, taking over at the Dayton 48.
The Colts were able to move the ball, with Aramis Bonczyk punching the ball across from 1-yard out to give Wooster a 9-0 lead after the PAT failed.
Dayton came roaring back when Austin Fletcher hit Taryn Aguilera for 64 yards and a touchdown. Adan Gomez' kick was blocked, but the Dust Devils had cut Wooster's lead to 9-6.
Wooster was driving before Dayton's defense stiffened as Aguilera intercepted Wooster quarterback Shane McNulty's pass at the 2-yard line to avert the scoring threat.
Dayton was struggling to move the ball but finally broke through. Sean deRubertis broke off a 24-yard gain. QB Jake Turner then came in to replace an injured Fletcher and promptly found Christian Davis alone behind the defense for 36 yards. Davis went out of bounds to stop the clock with 18 seconds left in the first half. Turner then connected with deRubertis who twisted and fought his way over the goal line to score with seven seconds left in the half. The three-play 86-yard drive gave Dayton a 12-9 halftime lead.
Wooster caught Dayton by surprise with a fake punt early in the second half, but a costly illegal block penalty and three consecutive dropped passes forced the Colts to punt. The snap sailed over the punter's head and Dayton found itself with a first and 10 at Wooster's 12-yard line.
Five plays later, deRubertis scored from the 1. Gomez' kick put the Dust Devils ahead 19-9 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.
Wooster threatened again driving deep into Dayton territory before the Dust Devils defense held with Wooster turning the ball over on downs at Dayton's 16-yard line. A holding call backed the Dust Devils up against their own goal line, which led to Turner getting sacked in the endzone for a safety.
The Colts would not back down, returning the free kick to Dayton's 35. Utilizing power football behind the powerful running of fullback Bonczyk, Wooster moved steadily down field. The Colts got help from a personal foul against the defense which gave Wooster first and goal from the Dayton 4. Bonczyk rumbled into the endzone setting up a potential game tying 2-point conversion. The Colts gave the ball to senior running back Samuel Klippenstein on a sweep, but the Dust Devils swarmed to the ball and the 2-point try was no good.
Fletcher returned to the game as quarterback to help the Dust Devils run out the clock.
Coach Turner was happy with how things turned out.
"We had a tough time," he said. "They had 10 in the box the whole first half. When they outnumber you at the point of attack its pretty tough. They did a great job."
Dayton, 4-2, will travel to Elko next week.