Football team to face Dayton on road Saturday


Robert Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Wide receiver Kirk Pinkston Jr. (14) and defensive back Kobe Rodgers take the field before the Panthers’ 26-21 loss to Indiana State Aug. 28.

Autumn Schulz, Assistant Sports Editor

This will be the second time this year that the Eastern football team has competed against a team that has not played since the 2019 season as they head to Dayton, Ohio on Saturday. 

Saturday will also mark the first time that the Eastern football team, now 0-2, have competed against the Flyers, who were 8-3 in 2019.

Eastern will have seven players on the active roster who are Ohio natives including: quarterback Otto Kuhns, safety AJ Sanders, running back Matthew Spofford, linebacker Phoenix Porter, offensive linemen Simon France, superback Matthew Bean and punter Logan Neidhardt. 

Superback Jay Vallie, a former Dayton Flyer, is also featured on the active roster but will not play this season due to injury. 

The Panthers enter their third week of the season ranked 17th in the FCS in fewest passing yards allowed at 136 per game.

Against South Carolina last Saturday, it was the younger players who led the Panthers’ defense.

Sophomore safety Kaelin Drakeford picked up the first sack of the season for Eastern. Last season, Drakeford finished third on the team with 38 tackles. 

Sophomore safety Jordan Vincent led the Panthers in tackles, finishing the game with 9 tackles including a half tackle for loss. Vincent is currently tied for the team lead for tackles with 12 stops.  

Jason Johnson, a sophomore linebacker, had four stops and is tied for the team lead with 12 total tackles on the season. 

It was a different story last Saturday for the Panthers’ offensive as it was led by the team veterans. 

Wide receiver Tyler Hamilton was the top receiver against South Carolina last weekend. Hamilton has 5 passes for 32 yards and is the team leader with 6 receptions on the season. 

Chris Katrenick started at quarterback at South Carolina for the first time in his college career. Katrenick passed for 78 yards, going 13-of-21.

Punter Logen Neidhardt had 8 punts and averaged 41.7 yards per punt. On the season, Neidhardt has 10 official punts for a 42.3-yard average.

Overall, the Panthers rank first in the FCS in 4th down attempts in the last two season with 82. 

The team is currently 3-for-3 on the season on 4th down attempts, one of 24 FCS teams in the nation that are still perfect on 4th down conversions. 

The Panthers will be up against the Flyers’ returning leading rusher Jake Chisholm this Saturday.

Chisholm rushed for 1,129 yards with 8 touchdowns during the 2019 season. He is currently on the preseason watch list for the Walter Payton Award. 

Returning quarterback for the Flyers, Jack Cook, had 2,697 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in 2019. 

The Flyers’ defense will be led by preseason Buck Buchanan candidate Brandon Esterling who had 140 tackles with 6 interceptions during the 2019 season. 

In 2019, the Flyers scored an average of 42 points per game, with 247 passing yards and 219 rushing yards per game.

Currently, the Eastern football team scores an average of 11 points per game, with 166 passing yards and 78 rushing yards per game.


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]