|Dayton Clips RMU, 19-13, in Season Lidlifter|
Moon Township, Pa. - The Robert Morris University football team dropped a 19-13 decision to Dayton Saturday afternoon at Joe Walton Stadium in the 2011 season opener for both programs.
The Colonials dipped to 9-9 (.500) all-time in season openers with the setback, including 6-2 (.750) in season openers at home. Both of RMU's losses in season-opening home games have come to the Flyers.
Dayton took an early 6-0 lead when Will Bardo, making his first career start at quarterback, connected with Brian Mack for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 4:19 to play in the first quarter. The extra point attempt was fumbled, leaving the score 6-0 in favor of the Flyers.
RMU grabbed its first lead of the 2011 campaign, 7-6, by using a nine-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by a five-yard run from junior quarterback Jeff Sinclair (Natrona Heights, Pa. / Highlands).
The Colonials rushed six times for 39 yards during the drive, including two carries for 21 yards from freshman halfback Duane Mitchell (Monroe Falls, Ohio / Stow), while Sinclair completed both of his pass attempts, including a 25-yard strike to junior wide receiver Rickeem Jackson (Orlando, Fla. / College of Canyons).
Dayton grabbed the lead before halftime, 13-7, when Bardo tossed his second touchdown of the afternoon, this time a 27-yard completion to Luke Bellman with 1:22 to go before the break.
The score was set up by the defense of the Flyeres, as Steve Wirkus intercepted Sinclair at the RMU 45-yard line with 1:49 left in the second quarter. Three plays later Dayton took the lead.
In the second half the Flyers extended their lead thanks to a pair of field goals from Nate Miller, who connected from 37 and 36 yards in the third quarter to help Dayton open up a 19-7 advantage.
Robert Morris trimmed its deficit to 19-13 with 5:54 to play when redshirt senior running back Jamar Cromwell (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Schenley) scored from a yard out. The big play came when Sinclair connected with sophomore wide receiver Donte Jeter (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Oliver) for a 54-yard completion down to the Dayton one-yard line.
The RMU defense held serve on the next possession by the Flyers, but the Colonials were unable to move the ball past their own 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs with under two minutes to play.
Sinclair finished 13-for-29 passing for 156 yards and an interception but was sacked eight times on the afternoon. Bardo finished 14-for-24 passing for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Mitchell led the ground game for RMU, compiling 71 yards on 14 carries, while freshman Justin Brooks (St. Charles, Md. / McDonough) finished with nine carries for 48 yards.
The Robert Morris defense stifled the Dayton running game, allowing just 21 yards on 26 attempts. A total of 22 of RMU's 56 tackles as a team against the Flyers came from Colonials making their first career start, including nine from sophomore safety D.J. Myers (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Pittsburgh Central Catholic) and seven from junior linebacker Kyle Cooper (Hurricane, W. Va. / Hurricane).
RMU takes to the road for its next three games, beginning with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff against Liberty at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. The Colonials will also visit Morgan State (Sept. 17) and Monmouth (Oct. 1) before returning home.
Notes: Robert Morris dropped its third straight season opener, with its last victory in a season opener a 27-13 victory over Morehead State (9/6/08) ... Senior tight end Shadrae King (McKeesport, Pa. / McKeesport) paced the RMU receiving corps with five receptions for 35 yards ... King has now caught a pass in 20 straight games dating back to the 2009 and owns 99 for his career, just one shy of becoming the third player in school history with 100 career receptions ... Robert Morris finished with 237 yards of total offense compared to 233 for Dayton ... The Flyers scored 10 points off of RMU turnovers ... Robert Morris suffered 10 penalties for 65 yards ... Senior Anthony Coleman (Cheltenham, Md. / St. John's College High School) finished with 91 all-purpose yards ... Dayton suffered one turnover, with quarterback Zachary Splain fumbling on a sack by junior defensive lineman Steve Mitchell (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Pittsburgh Central Catholic) and junior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, Pa. / Mars Area) coming up with the recovery for RMU.