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UD set for PFL opener against Marist

After a difficult non-conference schedule, Rick Chamberlin is pleased with a 2-1 start for the University of Dayton football team. For the most part.

“That Youngstown State game still eats at me because we had a chance to win that game,” the UD coach said. “Looking back at how we played in that game, we could be 3-0. I’ll take 2-1, though. That’s better than 1-2 heading into conference play like we were last year. But we’re playing with a lot better confidence right now. That’s a big difference from last year.”

After having a bye last week, Dayton will host Marist (1-2) today at 1 p.m. at Welcome Stadium to start Pioneer Football League play. The Flyers are 4-0 against the Red Foxes, including a 21-17 victory last season in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The schools started playing in 2009 when Marist joined the PFL.

Marist is led by senior quarterback Chuckie Looney, who set a single-season school record for touchdown passes last year with 18. So far this season, Looney has thrown for 719 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.

His favorite target is senior receiver Armani Martin, who has caught 16 passes for 242 yards and five TDs so far this season.

Looney is known for extending plays with his legs and has the ability to scramble.

“Well, hopefully, the defensive line doesn’t let him roll out,” UD redshirt senior linebacker Colin Monnier said. “If we’re in coverage and he rolls out, we (linebackers) usually lock up on whatever receiver we are closer to. If we’re in coverage where we’re spying on the quarterback, hopefully we get to him before he’s able to get the ball off.”

Dayton’s defense has been solid through three games, ranking in the top three of the PFL in nearly every statistic including pass defense. Chamberlin said the key will be getting consistent pressure on Looney.

“We have to have a good, solid rush on him,” he said. “We can’t give him any holes, any passing lanes, any rushing lanes to escape from us. Our front has been concentrating on that.”

UD’s offense ranks near the bottom of the PFL – 11th in total offense with 303.3 yards per game. Senior receiver Branden Johnson should make a big difference in the passing game after his two-week suspension ended. Johnson made his first appearance of the season in Dayton’s 21-14 win over Robert Morris on Sept. 14 with six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

“We haven’t performed well for four quarters and the offense has been like that as well,” Chamberlin said. “But they’re close. We’re just hoping this is the week where it all starts to come together.”

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