|Offensive Fireworks Spark RMU over Saint Francis|
Moon Township, Pa. - Junior quarterback Jeff Sinclair (Natrona Heights, Pa. / Highlands) threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as the Robert Morris University football rolled to its second straight win Saturday night with a 45-14 victory over in-state rival Saint Francis at Joe Walton Stadium in the first home night game in the program's 18-year history.
The Colonials improved to 2-3 overall on the 2011 campaign, including 2-0 in the Northeast Conference, while the Red Flash dipped to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in league action.
RMU scored on five of its seven possessions in the first half in building a 35-0 halftime lead en route to the victory.
Sinclair gave Robert Morris a 7-0 lead at the 2:10 mark of the first quarter when he connected with senior tight end Shadrae King (McKeesport, Pa. / McKeesport) for a 24-yard touchdown to cap a nine-play, 73-yard drive.
In the second quarter the Colonials exploded for 28 points, scoring on four consecutive possessions to take control of the game. Sinclair gave RMU a 14-0 advantage when he split the defense down the middle and raced untouched 64 yards for a touchdown with 12:08 left in the first half. Just four and-a-half minutes later, Sinclair hooked up with King for the second time, this time for a 16-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 Robert Morris lead.
Redshirt senior running back Jamar Cromwell (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Schenley) got in on the act with 1:49 remaining before halftime by catching a 25-yard touchdown pass from Sinclair to increase RMU's lead to 28-0.
On the second play of SFU's next drive, quarterback Cory Nielsen was intercepted by senior defensive back Alex Tarr (Bethel Park, Pa. / Bethel Park), who made an acrobatic pick near the home sideline. Two plays later Sinclair found daylight again and scampered 22 yards for a touchdown and a 35-0 Robert Morris lead.
The lead swelled to 42-0 in favor of the Colonials on their second possession after intermission when freshman running back Duane Mitchell (Monroe Falls, Ohio / Stow) scored from six yards out to cap a six-play, 39-yard drive at the 7:59 mark of the third quarter.
Nielsen helped Saint Francis crack the scoreboard with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Howze with 4:17 to go in the third quarter, and he added a 12-yard scoring pass to Kevin Parker with 7:34 to play to cap the evening's scoring.
Sinclair finished the evening 10-for-15 passing for 155 yards, three touchdowns and an interception and became the first quarterback in school history to eclipse the 100-yard rushing plateau in a game, carrying five times for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
King paced the receiving corps with four catches for 66 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Anthony Coleman (Cheltenham, Md. / St. John's College High School) caught three passes for 47 yards while racking up 121 all-purpose yards.
Kyle Harbridge led Saint Francis with 166 all-purpose yards, rushing for 86 on 19 carries while posting 69 yards on four kickoff returns and catching two passes for 11 yards. Nielsen finished 14-for-23 passing for 150 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Anthony Bowman recorded a game-high 16 tackles for the Red Flash, while the Colonials were led by junior safety Eric Lowry (Johnstown, Pa. / Bishop McCort), who finished with seven takedowns.
Defensively, RMU held Saint Francis to 227 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers and registering three sacks.
Picking up sacks for Robert Morris were junior defensive lineman Steve Mitchell (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Pittsburgh Central Catholic) and sophomore defensive lineman Chris Thompkins (Webster, N.Y. / Webster), while senior linebacker Jon Krepps (Belle Vernon, Pa. / Belle Vernon) and junior defensive lineman Cory Nolton (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Baldwin) teamed up for another.
Krepps finished the afternoon with six tackles, including one and-a-half for loss, and a forced fumble.
Robert Morris looks for its third straight win by returning to the road, visiting Albany, N.Y., for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff against Albany Saturday, Oct. 15, in a matchup of the NEC's lone programs with unblemished records in league play.
Notes: Robert Morris improved to 15-2-1 (.861) all-time against Saint Francis and has now won six straight in the series ... A total of 4,384 fans packed Joe Walton Stadium, the largest crowd in the facility's seven-year history and the sixth official sellout at the venue ... King's pair of touchdown receptions give him 20 for his career, just two shy of breaking former wide receiver Tyjuan Massey's (2002-05) career record of 21 ... King also moved into third place all-time at Robert Morris in career receiving yards with 1,439 while extending his own school record in receptions to 119 ... Over the last two games Sinclair has completed 71.8 percent (28-for-39) of his passes for 366 yards, five touchdowns and one interception ... In 23 career games under center, Sinclair has rushed for 11 touchdowns ... Junior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, Pa. / Mars Area) eclipsed 100 career tackles with four against Saint Francis, giving him 101 on his career, while also recovering one of two fumbles against the Red Flash ... Also recovering a fumble for Robert Morris was junior linebacker Brad Banas (Houston, Pa. / Chartiers-Houston), while junior linebacker Kyle Cooper (Hurricane, W. Va. / Hurricane) recorded his first career interception ... A total of 10 different Colonials posted a rushing attempt against Saint Francis, including 12 carries for 60 yards for redshirt freshman Deontae Howard (Clairton, Pa. / Clairton) ... Robert Morris rolled up a season-high 432 yards of total offense in claiming its 14th victory in its last 15 games against NEC opposition.