Ryan Dorso didn’t open the season as the Husson University football team’s starting running back.

He’s making a strong case to finish as one.

“The first couple of games were a struggle for me,” said Dorso, a sophomore and Farmingdale native. “But in the third game, we opened up the running game and, as soon as I started to get the ball, I wanted to make things happen.”

Dorso, 20, a former Kents Hill standout, is doing just that for Husson (1-4).

He’s rushed for 322 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries through five games. Dorso averages 5.5 yards a carry. He also has four receptions for 69 yards.

Most of his damage came in a stunning 28-22 victory over Anna Maria on Sept. 15, which snapped a two-year losing skid.

Dorso rushed for 202 yards against the AMCATS, including a 75-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left. The victory marked the first for Husson since October 2010.

“It was awesome,” Dorso said. “We had gone back onto the field and I was trying to hold my head up. We had just given up a score and were down one (22-21). Losing by one, it would’ve been a heart-breaker.

“We ran a simple inside (run) in the middle and I saw a cutback lane. As soon as I made a couple guys miss, I got into the open field and bore down. I wouldn’t let anybody catch me. The crowd was going crazy. It really brought a different feeling back to the program.”

Husson coach Sean Murphy agreed, saying the struggling program needed a victory.

“It was a much-needed win for everybody,” he said. “It added to the motivation level.”

The Eagles have struggled since the victory over Anna Maria, losing a pair of games by a combined 78-24.

“We still have high hopes for Ryan,” Murphy said. “I don’t think he’s had a performance like the one he had against (Anna Maria). He hasn’t made it back to that point, but we’re excited to see if he can get back to that production this week.”

Dorso, who missed three games last season with concussion-like symptoms, opened the season in a competition with senior Byron Jackson for the No. 1 running back job.

Jackson held the edge early, but Dorso has come on of late. He’ll start in the backfield Saturday against Becker as Husson opens Eastern Collegiate Football Conference play.

“Ryan is starting to come into his own,” Murphy said. “The reality is, he’s just now figuring things out. He has a different level of confidence we’re seeing. We have high expectations and we’re seeing more consistent results that we like. It was tricky because we have some running backs with very different skill sets. Ryan has emerged as a skill set as what fits best at what we do. He’s really figuring things out.

“He’s an explosive kid,” Murphy added. “He’s worked his way into a much bigger role. He’s really finding himself. We’re seeing this year what we didn’t see last year. He was a little more timid last year. He struggled adjusting to the speed of the college level. But he’s got it now.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com