|Robert Morris Looks to Solve Bulldogs|
Robert Morris (1-4 / 0-2) @ Bryant (0-6 / 0-4)
Top Story - The Robert Morris University football team plays its second straight road game this Saturday, Oct. 13, at 1:00 p.m. as the Colonials make a trek to Bulldog Stadium to take on Bryant, the newest member of the Northeast Conference (NEC). RMU is coming off a 10-3 setback at Saint Francis, which was only the program’s third loss in 19 meetings against the Red Flash. Junior Evan Taylor ran for a career-high 133 yards last Saturday, the highest individual rushing total in the program’s past 18 games. The Colonials have yet to topple Bryant in the teams' previous four meetings. This is RMU’s first visit to Bryant since the 2010 conference championship winning squad suffered its lone league loss at the hands of the Bulldogs. Jeff Sinclair tied his career high with 20 completions in the 2011 meeting between these squads, a game which came down to the final minute. Nolan Nearhoof needs one sack to break the Colonials’ all-time program record in that category. After facing the Bulldogs, Robert Morris will return home to take on Central Connecticut State Oct. 20 as RMU celebrates Hall of Fame Day.
Quick Stat of the Afternoon - Turnovers are often viewed as a major turning point that can swing games one way or another. Robert Morris’ recent history displayed that fact well as the Colonials had won 12 of their past 13 games when they committed fewer turnovers than their opponent entering last Saturday’s game at Saint Francis. In these 13 games, Robert Morris outscored its opponents by an average of 28.8 points per game to 13.3. Within that stretch, RMU had won each of its past 10 NEC games when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent. However, that logic did not prove true when Robert Morris visited Saint Francis last Saturday as the Red Flash committed more turnovers than the Colonials but still came out victorious. RMU recovered three Saint Francis fumbles during the game, including two when the Red Flash were in the red zone, but was unable to turn those turnovers into a win.
Saturday’s Opponent - Bryant is the only team that Robert Morris has never beaten of programs that RMU has faced at least three times in program history. The Colonials and Bulldogs have met in each of the past four seasons, twice at each school. In last year’s matchup, the Bulldogs claimed a come-from-behind, 34-27, victory as they scored the game-winning touchdown with just 32 seconds remaining in regulation. RMU has had a lead in each of its past three games against Bryant.
All-Time Series vs. Bryant
10/22/11 - L, 27-34; Home
Bryant Quick Outs - Jeff Sinclair tied his career-high with 20 completions in RMU’s 34-27 setback to the Bulldogs last season … Greg Langer connected on a pair of field goals and was also a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points in last season’s meeting at Joe Walton Stadium … RMU’s tilt against Bryant in 2010 marked the first time the program played a game as a ranked team, as the Colonials entered the game No. 25 in the Nov. 8, 2010, NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rankings according to The Sports Network … These two teams have combined for more points in each successive game in the series history--27 in the inaugural meeting, 33 in 2009, 48 in 2010 and 61 in last season’s meeting … Furthermore, Robert Morris has scored more points against Bryant from one year to the next throughout the series ... Robert Morris has had a lead over Bryant in each of the past three meetings, including leading in the second half twice, but has been unable to hang on for a victory.
On This Date (Oct. 13) in Robert Morris Football History - The Robert Morris football team made its only trip to St. John’s exactly 11 years ago. Coming off of a bye week, the Colonials never let up en route to a 28-0 shutout of the Red Storm, marking the Colonials’ second win in as many seasons against St. John’s. RMU built a two-touchdown lead fewer than 13 minutes into the game, had a 21-0 at the half and cruised to a victory in a game that lasted just 2:20. The Colonials held the Red Storm to just 62 passing yards on the day, allowing just five completions on 22 attempts while also notching a pair of interceptions. Sam Dorsett (1999-2003) posted 126 rushing yards on just 15 attempts, averaging over eight yards per carry, while scoring twice on the ground. Tim Levcik (1998-2001) completed 15-of-23 passes and threw two touchdowns but the most amazing part may have been that his 15 passes were completed to nine distinct receivers. Reggie Chambers (1998-01) made 10 tackles, including eight solo, while adding 2.0 tackles for loss.
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 106-83-1 (.561).
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 - 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 … Junior Evan Taylor ran for a career-high 133 yards … Senior Greg Langer 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 … Junior Mark Centofanti posted a career-best 10 tackles to aid the RMU cause … Marcelis Branch, Cameron Chadwick and Forrest Mason each tallied his first career fumble recovery against the Red Flash … RMU dropped to 61-22-1 (.732) all-time in program history when it has a 100-yard rusher.
Team Defense - Robert Morris has played five games thus far in 2012, and the Colonials have yet to have the same player lead the team in tackles for a game more than once. In fact, since two Colonials tied for game-high honors in the team’s home opener vs. Albany (9/8), six distinct defensive players have led the defense in tackles through the squad’s first five games, including each of the four starting linebackers. Cameron Chadwick posted a game-high 12 tackles against defending national champion North Dakota State (9/1), Brad Banas and Mike Neilson each tallied 10 against the defending NEC champion Great Danes, Mike Cook registered a game-high 11 stops @ Dayton (9/15), Marcelis Branch notched a team season-best 15 vs. Lafayette (9/29) and Mark Centofanti topped the chart @ Saint Francis (10/6) with 10 tackles.
Triple Digits - Junior Evan Taylor had the most productive day of his young offensive career last Saturday at Saint Francis 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. Taylor was previously a defensive back for RMU.
Thou Shall Not Rush - Saint Francis entered last Saturday’s game against Robert Morris leading the Northeast Conference and ranked seventh nationally in rushing offense, averaging over 262 yards per game on the ground. However, the Robert Morris defense proved up to the task and limited the Red Flash to just 122 rushing yards, more than 140 shy of their season average. It was the third time in the past four outings that RMU held its opponent below its average rushing yards per game. Additionally, Saint Francis came into last Saturday scoring more than 28 points per game, but RMU once again held the hosts to less than half of that total.
Trio of Turnovers - The Robert Morris defense has displayed a penchant for big plays in each of its past two games as the Colonials have forced six turnovers, three in each game, during this span. The last time RMU tallied at least three turnovers on consecutive weeks occurred Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, 2008 when the Colonials notched six @ Wagner (10/25) & three vs. CCSU (11/1).
Start Me Up - Steve Mitchell enters Saturday’s game with the most consecutive starting assignments of any active Colonial. Mitchell has started 27 straight games at defensive end. A.J. Dalton is second in that category with 22 straight starts on the offensive line. Jeff Sinclair is the Colonials’ active leader in overall starts with 30.