Dayton loses starting quarterback to broken thumb

First-year starter threw five touchdown passes in five games

Dayton Flyers quarterback Dante Casciola broke his right thumb on his throwing hand Saturday during a 31-0 loss to Butler in Indianapolis and will likely miss the rest of the season, coach Rick Chamberlin said Wednesday.

“He’s having surgery this Friday,” Chamberlin said, “so they’re going to put a pin in it and everything, and it’d be very doubtful he’ll get back before the end of the season.”

Dayton (3-2, 1-1), which saw a scoring streak that started in 1976 snapped after 501 games, has six games remaining. Redshirt freshman Shane Hamm replaced Casciola on the last series Saturday. He completed 2 of 7 passes for 41 yards.

The new depth chart lists Hamm or senior Cole Dow as the starter for the game at noon Saturday at Marist (2-3, 2-1) with senior Ryan VanSchelven as the third quarterback.

“The way we looked at it, Hamm came in because he was the backup going into the game and we were using Cole Dow as a receiver and third-quarterback type,” Chamberlin said. “Shane and Cole are the ones getting the reps this week, and we’ll have a better idea on, ‘OK, who has a better handle on the plan plan,’ when we reach Friday.”

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Casciola, a freshman from Waxhaw, N.C., and Weddington High School, won the job in preseason practices. He beat out the senior Dow, the backup to Jack Cook last season, and Hamm.

In five games, Casciola averaged 151.4 passing yards per game with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He ranked second on the team in rushing with 42 yards per game and two touchdowns.

Casciola completed 15 of 28 passes for 174 yards with one interception against Butler. He also rushed 13 times for 34 yards.

Chamberlin said he would console Casciola by telling him, “It doesn’t mean your career is over. You’re only a redshirt freshman here. This is a surgery that other quarterbacks have had. Rob Florian had it back in 2008. Guys come back from it. I know Dante will work to get back to where he was by the time we get to spring.”

Chamberlin didn’t know how Casciola broke his thumb, but said he tried to play through it on several drives. Even after the injury, on his last drive, he led the offense to the Butler 8-yard line before throwing an interception. He had completions of 39 and 21 yards earlier in the drive.

“He didn’t really say anything,” Chamberlin said, “and I really believe that affected his passing on a couple of those drives.”

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