|RMU Unable to Finish in Tight Setback|
Loretto, Pa. - The Robert Morris University football team had its share of chances Saturday afternoon but was unable to come away with a win in a 10-3 setback to Saint Francis in Northeast Conference (NEC) action at DeGol Field as the Colonials fell for the first time in their past seven games against the Red Flash.
RMU had fewer turnovers and penalty yards than Saint Francis and also held advantages in first downs, time of possession and third down conversion percentage, but the Colonials couldn’t find the formula for a victory.
Saint Francis entered the game ranked seventh nationally in rushing offense, averaging over 262 yards per game on the ground, but the Robert Morris defense limited the Red Flash to just 122 rushing yards, more than 140 shy of their season average. Additionally, Saint Francis came into Saturday scoring more than 28 points per game, but RMU once again held the hosts to less than half of that total.
Junior Evan Taylor (Redding, Calif. / Shasta) had the most productive day of his young offensive career as he carried 25 times for a career-high 133 yards. Taylor, who is in his first season as a running back, posted the highest single-game rushing total by a Colonial in the program’s past 18 games and finished with a game-high 157 all-purpose yards.
Senior Greg Langer (Wexford, Pa. / Pine-Richland) provided a 44-yard field goal in the second quarter to help the RMU cause. It was Langer’s 11th consecutive made field goal, which extended his own program record. Furthermore, seven of those 11 makes have come from farther than 35 yards away.
Junior Mark Centofanti (West Mifflin, Pa. / West Mifflin) posted a career-best 10 tackles to aid the RMU defense, including contributing one tackle for loss.
Saint Francis received the opening kickoff and drove into the red zone, but senior safety Cameron Chadwick (Vista, Calif. / College of Canyons) pounced on a loose ball, notching his first-career fumble recovery, to keep the Red Flash from scoring.
RMU then drove 58 yards downfield, converting on two third-down plays, bringing the ball to the 19-yard line of the Red Flash. The Colonials opted to go for it on a fourth-down play and were stopped just shy of the marker, leading to a turnover on downs.
After each team punted once, Saint Francis opened the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown pass on the second play of its drive.
After another pair of punts, RMU drove to the Red Flash 24-yard line, but a Saint Francis defender made a jumping catch in the end zone to prevent a touchdown.
The Colonial defense subsequently forced a three-and-out, earning a stop on a third-and-one play, giving the ball right back to RMU.
Redshirt senior Paul Evans (Elma, N.Y. / Iroquois Central) hauled in a 23-yard completion on the ensuing drive to move the ball to the Red Flash 21-yard line late in the first half, and Langer took it from there, knocking in a field goal.
However, Saint Francis refused to concede the final seconds of the half. The Red Flash got in position for a long field goal on the final play and, despite missing it, got another try at a shorter attempt after a Colonial was deemed to have made contact with the kicker during the play. Saint Francis took advantage of the second chance and knocked through a 33-yarder to close the opening half.
Robert Morris drove into Saint Francis territory on each of its first two drives of the second half, but they both stalled out, one due to a punt and another due to a fumble.
The RMU defense was keeping the game within reach as it forced two Red Flash punts before making a huge play on the host's third drive of the half. Saint Francis looked as if it was going to score on another long pass play, but right before the Red Flash receiver sprinted into the end zone, true freshman Marcelis Branch (Homestead, Fla. / Miami Southridge) ripped the ball free and then pounced on top of it to secure an amazing turnover.
After three more punts, sophomore Forrest Mason (Union Bridge, Md. / Hargrave Military Academy) recovered his first-career fumble as he fell on a bouncing ball on the host’s half of the field, setting RMU up with prime field position.
The Colonials moved the ball to the Saint Francis 12-yard line with about two minutes to go, but a short rush and three incompletions forced a turnover on downs.
Robert Morris held the Red Flash to a three-and-out to give itself one final chance, but a desperation pass attempt was not to be.
Branch, the reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Week, posted six tackles and a pass breakup along with his hustle play that forced a turnover.
RMU was perfect in the red zone through the first four games of the season, scoring on each of its chances inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, but an 0-for-2 showing Saturday hurt the Colonials’ chances.
With the setback, RMU falls to 15-3-1 (.816) all-time against Saint Francis and also dropped to 61-22-1 (.732) all-time in program history when it has a 100-yard rusher.
Robert Morris will remain on the road next weekend as it makes a long trek to Rhode Island to take on Bryant Saturday, Oct. 13, in a NEC matchup.