Dayton football falls just short
DAYTON — The hobbled Homecoming king’s fourth quarter quarterback comeback got Dayton closer to victory than any other moment in the team’s 17-game losing streak dating back to 2014, but the Dust Devils still fell 14-6 on homecoming night against Lowry.
Dayton quarterback Blake Fletcher had already been sidelined for about a quarter when he limped out to midfield and accepted his prom king crown during halftime on Friday.
“I think I broke (my right big toe),” Fletcher said immediately after the game in the locker room. “It’s bruised and swollen. I don’t know what happened. I just got up and felt it pop in and out.”
Fletcher got back on the field at the end of the third quarter, eventually connecting on an 11-yard pass to receiver Dylan Torgerson with 5 minutes, 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“It was hard because we really thought we could win this game and we just made a lot of mistakes,” Fletcher said. “A lot of emotions were flowing — a lot of anger, a lot of tears.” Dayton (0-6, 0-6 in Northern 3A) didn’t get the ball back as Lowry (1-5, 1-5) methodically ran down the field and killed the clock on the game’s final possession.
In 2015, Lowry’s only win on the season came at home against Dayton, 40-0; it’s first win this season came Friday night in a much closer game.
“It was important,” Lowry head coach Taua Cabatbat said. “It’s important to get that first win. When you are in a situation when you open up 0-5, the wheels can fall off really easily. But we believed in each other and stuck together and we got a win tonight.”
The game’s turning point occurred during the first three plays of the second half. Dayton’s opening second half kickoff rolled and hugged the left sideline like a baseball bunt staying fair down the third base line. Lowry special teams players watched it roll, anticipating it going out of bounds. But it didn’t and Dayton senior Jesse Schmidt snuck up on the Buckaroos and pounced on the ball at the Lowry 21-yard line.
It was the opportunity Dayton sought all season, putting the Dust Devils in position to at least get on the board and tie the game.
On the first play from scrimmage, though, Fletcher’s replacement at quarterback, Torgerson, sailed a pass near the end zone and into the arms of Lowry defender Jed Teichert.
“We were trying to hit it big and try to get some momentum,” Dayton head coach Patrick Squires said. “We went for it. I’m not afraid to go for it. I trust my kids. I’d call it again. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m proud of my kids.”
On the next play, Lowry junior running back Victor Rosas ran 41 yards to the Dust Devil 32-yard line.
It took two plays for Lowry to deflate the raucous Dayton Homecoming crowd after the fortuitous kickoff. Rosas capped the quick scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 Lowry lead with 9 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Rosas ran for 131 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries on Friday.
Turnovers plagued both teams in the first half. Dayton lost the ball three times on three fumbles in the first half, and committed four turnovers in the game. Lowry threw two interceptions in the first half.
Lowry quarterback Ren Mattson connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Austin Robinson for the only first half score with 6 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first quarter. Lowry entered halftime up 6-0.
“Did we make mistakes? Absolutely,” Squires said. “But again, we’re making strides. I hate to keep saying that but we are making strides. We are building it and playing football. It’s better than 40-0.”