|RMU Looks to Snap Three-Game Slide vs. CCSU|
Robert Morris (2-6 / 2-3 NEC) @ C. Conn. State (2-7 / 1-5 NEC)
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, at Noon
Arute Field (3,000) - New Britain, Conn.
Top Story - The Robert Morris University football team looks to snap a three-game losing streak Saturday when it visits New Britain, Conn., for a Noon kickoff against Central Connecticut State at Arute Field in a game that will be televised live on PCNC. The Colonials are coming off a 27-15 setback to Sacred Heart (10/29) that closed out a two-game homestand. Robert Morris jumped out to a 10-3 lead against the Pioneers on the strength of a 22-yard touchdown run by junior quarteback Jeff Sinclair and a 36-yard field goal from junior Greg Langer, but Sacred Heart outscored the Colonials, 24-5, the rest of the way. Sinclair finished 13-for-26 passing for 148 yards but was intercepted twice and sacked five times. Senior tight end Shadrae King led the RMU receiving corps with five receptions for 73 yards, while redshirt freshman Deontae Howard rushed 16 times for 55 yards. The Colonials return home to Joe Walton Stadium after taking on the Blue Devils Saturday afternoon, welcoming Wagner in a Noon kickoff Saturday, Nov. 12, for their final home game of the 2011 season. RMU will close out the year with a Noon kickoff Saturday, Nov. 19, at Duquesne.
Quick Stat of the Afternoon - Quietly putting together one of the best seasons by a defensive lineman in school history is junior Nolan Nearhoof. RMU's active leader in career tackles with 124, Nearhoof paced the Colonials with 11 tackles against Sacred Heart (10/29), including a trio of sacks. Nearhoof became the seventh different student-athlete in school history to record three sacks in a game, and he enters Saturday's game @ Central Connecticut State leading the Northeast Conference in the category with seven and-a-half. Thanks to his trio of sacks against the Pioneers, Nearhoof pushed his career total to 16, which is tied with former defensive lineman Brad Kirit (1997-2000) for fourth all-time at Robert Morris. Nearhoof is also just three sacks shy of tying the career school record of 19 that is held by former defensive lineman Ray Gensler (2003-06). Nearhoof enters Saturday's game against the Blue Devils ranked third for RMU in tackles so far this season with 47.
Saturday's Opponent - Central Connecticut State is one of just three opponents Robert Morris has faced in each of the first 17 years the Colonials have fielded an intercollegiate program, joining fellow Northeast Conference foes Saint Francis and Wagner. The Colonials own a 13-4 (.765) advantage in the all-time series.
All-Time Series vs. Central Connecticut State
Robert Morris 2011 Quick Outs - RMU was picked third in the 2011 Northeast Conference preseason coaches poll, trailing only preseason favorite Central Connecticut State and Duquesne ... The Blue Devils earned five first-place votes in the NEC preseason coaches poll, the Dukes garnered two while RMU and Bryant each finished with one ... Senior tight end Shadrae King has caught at least one pass in 27 straight games dating back to the 2009 campaign, a school record ... King also owns 133 career receptions, a Robert Morris school record ... Junior quarterback Jeff Sinclair owns career totals of 4,072 passing yards and 42 touchdowns ... Junior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof is RMU's active leader in tackles (124), tackles for loss (22) and sacks (16) ... Nearhoof is tied for fourth all-time at Robert Morris in career sacks ... A total of 21 Colonials have earned their first career start so far in 2011.
Head Coach Joe Walton (18th Season; Pittsburgh '57) - At the forefront of the football renaissance at Robert Morris University throughout its 18-year history is Joe Walton, who has built the Colonials from a fledgling program into one of the top Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams in the region.
The one constant associated with the program, Walton was named the first head coach July 27, 1993. He started the program from scratch, completing everything from hiring assistant coaches to purchasing equipment to recruiting student-athletes for the team's inaugural season in 1994. He owns an overall record of 105-76-1 (.582).
Walton's fingerprints are all over the football program, and to prove that, RMU has played its home games since 2005 in a stadium that bears his name. During his tenure, Walton has led Robert Morris to the first Northeast Conference championship in 1996, guided RMU to a perfect 10-0 season in 2000 and in 2010 helped lead the Colonials to the NEC's inaugural bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs with their league-high sixth regular-season championship.
"It's hard to believe," Walton speaks on how fast time has elapsed. "I've said this many times before, and I mean it when I say that this situation is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life. It happened at the right time. Before this position became available, I felt I was too young to quit coaching, but I wasn't anxious to get back into pro football. When this came along, it was the perfect fit. This situation was the perfect opportunity for me to continue to do what I like to do, and I've loved every minute of it."
Under Walton's tutelage, the Colonials have claimed outright NEC regular-season titles three times (1997, 1999, 2000) while sharing three others (1996, 1998, 2010). Walton led Robert Morris to back-to-back ECAC Bowl victories in 1996 and 1997, and in 1999 and 2000 he guided RMU to a pair of NCAA I-AA mid-major national crowns according to Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette.
In 2010, Walton added to his legacy by engineering the Colonials on an eight-game winning streak for a share of the NEC regular-season title and the NEC's first bid in the NCAA FCS Playoffs. In the process he picked up his 100th career victory in the collegiate ranks.
Sacred Heart Game Notes - The all-time series between Robert Morris and Sacred Heart is now tied, 7-7 ... The Pioneers finished with 300 yards of total offense compared to 239 for the Colonials ... RMU finished just 2-for-13 on third-down conversions and was unsuccessful on its only attempt going for it on fourth down ... Sacred Heart's Greg Moore racked up 163 all-purpose yards, hauling in six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown while posting 17 carries for 55 yards out of the backfield.
Production Line - Junior quarterback Jeff Sinclair scored RMU's only touchdown of the afternoon against Sacred Heart with a 22-yard touchdown run on the game's opening possession that gave the Colonials an early 7-0 lead. So far this season, Sinclair has been responsible for 16 of RMU's 19 (84.2%) touchdowns, throwing for 11 touchdowns while running for five more. Since taking over the reigns as RMU's starting quarterback midway through the 2009 season, Sinclair has been responsible for 55 of RMU's 80 (68.8%) touchdowns over the last 26 games. He enters Saturday's game @ Central Connecticut State ranked fifth at Robert Morris in career touchdown passes (42) and tied for seventh in rushing touchdowns (13).
Hacky Sack - While junior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof leads the Northeast Conference so far this season in sacks with seven and-a-half, he hasn't been the only Colonial to put pressure on the quarterback. In fact, Robert Morris enters Saturday's game @ Central Connecticut State ranked second in the league in sacks with 19, trailing only Sacred Heart, which owns 20. Amazingly, a total of 10 Colonials have recorded at least half a sack for RMU so far this season. In addition to the seven-and-a-half from Nearhoof, junior defensive lineman Steve Mitchell owns two and-a-half sacks, while senior defensive lineman Sam Miller and sophomore defensive lineman Chris Thompkins each own a pair.
Hanging Chad - Junior safety Cameron Chadwick has settled into his role as a leader on defense, and its showed the last three games. Over that span Chadwick owns 35 stops, an average of 11.7 per contest. Included in that stretch is a team-high 12 tackles against Bryant (10/22) as well as a career-high 16 tackles @ Albany (10/15). Thanks to his performance against the Great Danes, Chadwick became the 17th different Colonial in school history to accumulate at least 15 tackles in a game. Chadwick enters Saturday's game @ Central Connecticut State leading Robert Morris in tackles with 60, an average of 7.5 per contest that is tied for ninth in the Northeast Conference.
Picking Up Steam - Greg Langer has settled in nicely as RMU's starting placekicker, as the junior has hit five straight field goal attempts and nine of his last 11 in the last six games. Langer ranks third in the NEC with his nine field goals and leads the Colonials in points so far this season with 43.
Foot Joy - One of the most important aspects that junior Jeff Sinclair brings to the quarterback position at Robert Morris is his versatility. Sinclair produced RMU's only touchdown against Sacred Heart (10/29) by rushing for a 22-yard score on the first possession of the game to give the Colonials an early 7-0 lead. In 26 career games, Sinclair has already rushed for 13 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, prior to Sinclair becoming the starter under center at RMU, quarterbacks combined for 16 rushing touchdowns in the first 156 games of the program's history.
New Balance - A pair of Colonials each received their first career start against Sacred Heart (10/29), as sophomore Mark Centofanti got the call at linebacker due to injuries to juniors Brad Banas and Andrew Douglass, while freshman Antwan Eddie earned his first career start at cornerback. Centofanti was one of three Colonials to finish the game with eight tackles, second for RMU on the afternoon with linebacker Jon Krepps and safety D.J. Myers. The starts for Centofanti and Eddie pushed the total of Colonials to earn their first career collegiate start at Robert Morris this season to 21.