|Colonials Travel to No. 24 Liberty Saturday|
Robert Morris (0-1) @ #24 Liberty (0-1)
Top Story - The Robert Morris University football team opens a three-game road trip Saturday afternoon by traveling to Lynchburg, Va., for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff against No. 24 Liberty at Williams Stadium. The Colonials are coming off a 19-13 setback to Dayton (9/3) at Joe Walton Stadium in their 2011 season opener, which dropped RMU to 9-9 (.500) all-time to open the season. Senior tight end Shadrae King led the Robert Morris receiving corps with five catches for 35 yards against the Flyers, extending his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 20 dating back to the 2009 campaign, the second longest streak in school history. Junior quarterback Jeff Sinclair finished 12-for-28 passing for 154 yards and also rushed for a five-yard touchdown but was sacked eight times on the afternoon. Robert Morris continues its three-game road swing after taking on the Flames by closing out the non-conference portion of its 2011 schedule with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff against Morgan State Saturday, Sept. 17, at Hughes Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
Quick Stat of the Afternoon - A Robert Morris defense that featured eight new starters got off to a solid start in its 2011 season opener against Dayton (9/3), holding the Flyers to just 21 yards rushing on 26 attempts, an average of 0.8 yards per carry. Overall Dayton finished with just 233 yards of total offense as a total of 23 of RMU’s 56 tackles on the afternoon against the Flyers came from Colonials making their first collegiate start. Included in that group were sophomore safety D.J. Myers, who produced a game-high nine tackles, while junior linebacker Kyle Cooper contributed seven takedowns. Junior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof, RMU’s active leader in career tackles with 81, finished with four tackles, including one and-a-half takedowns for a loss, and a fumble recovery against the Flyers.
Saturday’s Opponent - Robert Morris and Liberty will meet for just the second time on the football field Saturday, with the Colonials having earned a 30-23 victory over the Flames in the inaugural meeting between the two programs last season at Joe Walton Stadium (9/18/10). In that contest former running back Myles Russ (2007-10) scored on a 12-yard run with 22 seconds to play to help lift RMU to the victory. Quarterback Jeff Sinclair finished 13-for-21 passing for a career-high 271 yards and two touchdowns and completed all four of his pass attempts for 68 yards during the game-winning drive.
All-Time Series vs. Liberty
On This Date (Sept. 10) in Robert Morris Football History - Just a week after playing the first game in program history, Robert Morris played its first home game at Moon Stadium by posting a 26-19 victory over Monmouth Sept. 10, 1994. Just as defense helped the Colonials secure a 24-19 win @ Waynesburg (9/3/94) a week prior, the unit came up big again in the victory over the Hawks. Monmouth had drove to the RMU two-yard line, but the Hawks were turned away from securing a game-tying touchdown as time ran out. The Colonials had taken the final lead of the afternoon with 4:31 to play when former quarterback Jake Newman (1994-97) hit inaugural running back Tim Hall (1994-95) with a short pass, with Hall bursting 70 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown. Newman finished 22-for-29 passing on the afternoon for 298 yards and three touchdowns, with Hall catching seven of those passes for 114 yards and a score despite being held to 32 yards rushing on the afternoon.
Head Coach Joe Walton (18th Season; Pittsburgh '57) - At the forefront of the football renaissance at Robert Morris University throughout its 17-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 103-71-1 (.591).
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.
Dayton Game Notes - 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 owns a 12-2 (.857) edge in the all-time series and has won nine straight over Robert Morris ... RMU dropped its third straight season opener, with its last season-opening victory coming in a 27-13 victory over Morehead State (9/6/08) at Joe Walton Stadium ... Robert Morris finished with 235 yards of total offense compared to 233 for Dayton ... Robert Morris suffered 10 penalties for 65 yards ... Freshman punter Tony LaMancusa averaged an even 40 yards on five punts in his collegiate debut, including a long of 48.
Foot Joy - One of the most important aspects that junior Jeff Sinclair brings to the quarterback position at Robert Morris is his versatility. In RMU’s season opener against Dayton (9/3) at Joe Walton Stadium, Sinclair scored the first touchdown of the year for the Colonials with a five-yard run with 10:43 to play in the second quarter that gave RMU a 7-6 advantage. In 19 career games, Sinclair has already rushed for nine 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..