Davidson Wildcats topped by Dayton in 5-OT marathon

So close.

The Davidson Wildcats were on the verge of winning the longest game in their football history several times during their 54-48 loss in five overtimes to Dayton on Saturday afternoon at Richardson Stadium.

Freshman kicker Trevor Smith’s game-tying 44-yard field goal on the last play of regulation put Wildcats (1-5, 0-2) in position to grab their first Pioneer Football League win since 2012.

But Dayton defensive back Tom Fanning ended the four-hour, 11-minute marathon with an interception of a pass by Davidson quarterback J.P. Douglas in the school-record fifth extra period.

“I don’t know how many times we had a chance to win the game,” Davidson coach Paul Nichols said. “But I’m proud of the way we fought.”

Douglas completed 38 of 58 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Three of them went to senior wide receiver William Morris, a school record for touchdown receptions in a game.

The last one tied the game at 40 in the third overtime, and the Wildcats looked to be in position to grab the victory in the fourth overtime. Freshman running back Jeffrey Keil rushed for a 1-yard touchdown and caught a two-point conversion pass from Douglas for a 48-40 lead.

But the Flyers (3-1, 1-0) forced another extra period on a 4-yard run by senior running back Connor Kacsor and a tying two-point conversion run by quarterback Will Bardo. Kacsor scored the game-winning touchdown on a 6-yard run, before the Flyers’ takeaway ended the game.

Kacsor rushed 47 times for 213 yards and four touchdowns, with all the scores coming in the overtimes.

“We played a great game against a senior-heavy team that was picked to finish second in our conference,” said Nichols, who has only nine seniors but 36 freshmen on the roster. “It was great to see our young players running around making plays. I wish we could group up a little quicker.”

The game had been a back-and-forth affair even before the extra periods. The Wildcats, down 10-7 at halftime, led 17-13 on the first Douglas-to-Morris touchdown connection, a 5-yard play with 5 minutes, 24 seconds left in the game.

Davidson’s last lead was 24-20 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Douglas to Cam Cheuvront with 2:26 to play.

Gabe Macis’ 12-yard touchdown reception from Bardo gave the Flyers a 27-24 lead with 56 seconds left, but Douglas directed a last minute drive. Smith, who also kicked a 25-yard field goal in the third quarter, sent the game to overtime tied 27-27.

“We put up 48 points against the top defense in the league, and that doesn’t count a couple of opportunities we left on the table (a red-zone lost fumble and an 80-yard touchdown reception by Cheuvront nullified by a penalty). We played great defense for 55 minutes.”

Notes: Davidson plays its next two games on the road, making the Wildcats’ first trip to Drake since 2010 for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday, and at Campbell on Oct. 18.