|Robert Morris Set to Face Longtime Nemesis|
Robert Morris (0-2) @ Dayton (0-2)
Top Story - The Robert Morris University football team continues its season this Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1:00 p.m. as the Colonials head back out on the road to face Dayton at Welcome Stadium in an annual non-conference affair. This is the seventh consecutive season in which RMU has faced the Flyers, alternating home and road games. The Colonials, similar to Dayton, have dropped their opening two games, falling to defending NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national champion North Dakota State (9/1) before dropping their league opener to defending Northeast Conference (NEC) champion Albany (9/8). Senior Greg Langer booted a 49-yard field goal last week while Mike Neilson posted 10 tackles in just his second career appearance in a RMU uniform. After facing the Flyers, RMU will have its only bye week of the season before returning home to welcome Lafayette (9/29) in just the second home night game in program history as part of the University’s Homecoming festivities. RMU will then travel to in-state rival Saint Francis the following week (10/6) as it begins conference play in earnest.
Quick Stat of the Afternoon - Although Robert Morris has had trouble figuring out Dayton throughout its history, if one examines the two prior Colonial wins in the head-to-head series, a few trends emerge. RMU topped the Flyers in both 1999 and 2000 and one key element was its pass defense. The Colonials only allowed Dayton 161 passing yards combined in those two matchups, refusing to concede even 100 yards on either occasion. Robert Morris also went a combined 13-for-28 (.464) on third and fourth down in those two games against the Flyers while Dayton managed to go just 10-of-31 (.323) in such situations. RMU also outscored Dayton 37-7 combined in the second half of those games. In the category of what one would not expect, RMU lost the time of possession battle in both games as Dayton averaged 33:40 in those two contests.
Saturday’s Opponent - The longest running rivalry with a non-conference opponent in program history, Robert Morris and Dayton will meet for the 15th time Saturday. The Flyers own a 12-2 (.857) advantage and carry a nine-game winning in the all-time series into the contest. In last year’s game at Joe Walton Stadium (9/3/11), Dayton used a pair of touchdowns, both on passes by Will Bardo, and two field goals and held on for a 19-13 win even though RMU produced a fourth-quarter rally. Despite the loss, the Colonials allowed the Flyers just 21 yards rushing on 26 attempts on the afternoon.
All-Time Series vs. Dayton
9/3/11 - L, 13-19; Home
@ Moon Township, Pa. - Dayton, 6-1
Dayton Quick Outs - Seven of RMU’s 12 losses against the Flyers have been decided by 10 points or less … RMU’s 17-13 victory over Dayton @ Welcome Stadium (10/14/00), the last victory for the Colonials in the all-time series, marked head coach Joe Walton’s 100th victory as head coach (combined professional and collegiate victories) … Former cornerback Joe Austin (1998-2001) helped the Colonials seal their last win over Dayton by intercepting former Flyers quarterback Kelly Spiker at the RMU 5-yard line with 1:23 to play to preserve a 17-13 victory … Former linebacker Nate List’s (1994-97) 97-yard interception return @ Welcome Stadium in 1996 is the longest touchdown in school history … D.J. Myers tied for game high honors with nine tackles, including 1.0 TFL, in last year’s meeting … RMU has outgained Dayton in total offense in five of the past eight meetings
On This Date (Sept. 15) in Robert Morris Football History - Robert Morris was victorious on its only prior game played on Sept. 15 in program history as the Colonials downed Saint Francis, 28-14, during the 2007 season. RMU scored touchdowns on four straight possessions sandwiching halftime and forced five Red Flash turnovers on the day, including posting four interceptions. Erik Cwalinski (2005-08) threw for 161 yards and two scores, including the first-career touchdown reception by Chris Molnar (2007-09). Eventual all-time leading rusher and current assistant coach Myles Russ (2007-10) rushed for two touchdowns on the afternoon, marking the first trips to the end zone in his career. Safety James Kazil (2004-07) recorded two interceptions while linebacker Chad Wengert (2004-07) had a monster day, recording 11 tackles while adding a forced fumble, an interception, two passes defended, a half a sack and a quarterback hurry. RMU went 4-for-4 in its trips to the red zone and never trailed in the victory.
Head Coach Joe Walton (19th season; Pittsburgh ’57) - At the forefront of the football renaissance at Robert Morris University throughout its 19-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 105-81-1 (.564).
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.
Last Time Out - Robert Morris dropped a NEC game in its home opener for the first time in program history … Senior Greg Langer booted a career-long 49-yard field goal, marking the longest field goal by a Colonial in over 12 years … Sophomore Matt Layman found junior Donte Jeter for a 20-yard touchdown on a fourth down play in the third quarter … Sophomore Mike Neilson tied for game-high honors with 10 tackles, including a tackle for loss, in just his second career appearance in a RMU uniform … Senior Brad Banas matched Neilson by contributing a career-high 10 tackles along with two quarterback hurries … Junior Evan Taylor and sophomore Ryan Thermil combined for 107 yards rushing.
No Time for Panic - While getting off to an 0-2 start is not what any team aspires for, judging by its program history, Robert Morris may have a good chance of rebounding from dropping its first two games of the season. The 2012 season marks the sixth time in school history in which RMU has started 0-2. In four of the previous five such cases, the Colonials bounced back to post a winning overall record and/or a winning Northeast Conference (NEC) mark. The Colonials first started 0-2 in 1998, but they would proceed to win four of their next six games, with the two losses in that span coming by a combined three points, a stretch that helped RMU claim a share of its third consecutive conference championship. RMU responded to an 0-2 start in 2001 by winning six of its final seven games, each of which was by at least 11 points, and finished one game out of first place in the NEC. After starting 0-2 in 2006, Robert Morris won five straight games, including a victory over nationally ranked Central Connecticut State, and seven of its last nine games overall to finish the season on a positive note.
Seventh Heaven - Robert Morris had no trouble spreading the ball around to different targets in last week’s home opener against Albany. Seven different Colonials had at least one reception, including the first-career catch by true freshman D.J. Hayes. That figure is tied for the most Colonials with a catch in a single game in the program’s past 25 outings. In all, nine Colonials have at least one catch through two games.
Longer for Langer - Greg Langer’s 49-yard field goal last week vs. Albany made him just the second Colonial ever to convert a field goal of at least that length. It also marked the longest field goal by a Colonial in over 12 years.
Go Deep - The last time Robert Morris met Dayton quarterback Jeff Sinclair hooked up with Donte Jeter on a 54-yard pass that helped setup a fourth-quarter touchdown. The catch was significant because it was Jeter’s first-career reception, but the length of the play also stood out. The 54-yard reception marks the longest pass play in the past 20 RMU games. Not since T.J. Green (2007-10) hauled in a 65-yard pass Sept. 25, 2010 at Wagner has a Colonial quarterback had a longer completion.
Foot Joy - One of the most important aspects that senior Jeff Sinclair brings to the quarterback position at Robert Morris is his versatility. In a 31-24 setback @ Central Connecticut State last year (11/5), Sinclair rushed for a 14-yard touchdown in the first quarter that helped tie the game, 7-7. In 27 career games, Sinclair has already rushed for 14 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.