|Robert Morris Aims to Snap Wagner's Four-Game Run|
Robert Morris (2-5 / 1-3) @ Wagner (4-3 / 4-1)
Top Story - The Robert Morris University football team will play its third road game in four weeks this Saturday, Oct. 27, at 1:00 p.m. as the Colonials take on Wagner at Wagner College Stadium. RMU is coming off of a thrilling, come-from-behind, 37-31, victory over Central Connecticut State last week as the Colonials rallied from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit to claim the win. RMU has rushed for at least 170 yards in each of its past four games. Senior Nolan Nearhoof was named as one of 15 National Football Foundation (NFF) scholar-athletes across all divisions of college football earlier this week and earned an $18,000 scholarship for postgraduate studies. Marcelis Branch earned his third Northeast Conference (NEC) weekly honor this past Monday when he was selected as the league’s Rookie of the Week after his interception against the Blue Devils directly led to the game-winning score. RMU will be searching for its fourth straight win at Wagner. After facing the Seahawks, Robert Morris will return home to take on local rival Duquesne Nov. 3 in a game that can be seen live on ESPN3 and Root Sports.
Quick Stat of the Afternoon - After another strong dual-threat performance in last Saturday’s win over CCSU, Jeff Sinclair is threatening a notable single-season school record. Sinclair is averaging 223.4 yards of total offense per game thus far in 2012, a figure that would current rank second in RMU history and is fewer than five yards shy of Tim Levcik’s (1998-2001) record of 228.2. Sinclair has topped 250 yards of total offense three times this season, including each of the past two games. That marked the second time in Sinclair’s career that he has tallied at least 250 total offense yards in back-to-back games. The only other time came Sept. 11 and Sept. 18, 2010 when Sinclair posted 266 @ Sacred Heart and 253 vs. Liberty. Coincidentally, Sinclair’s next game after that 2010 stretch also occurred at Wagner--just like 2012. He fell just short of 250 in that game as he notched 244 yards of total offense while throwing four touchdowns.
Saturday’s Opponent - Wagner is one of just three opponents Robert Morris faced in each of the first 18 years the Colonials fielded an intercollegiate program, joining fellow NEC foes Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis. All-time the Colonials are 12-6 (.667) against the Seahawks, and RMU has won each of the past three games on Staten Island, including the past two by a combined 53 points. RMU posted a 30-9 win the last time it traveled to Wagner as Jeff Sinclair set a career high with four touchdown passes.
All-Time Series vs. Wagner
RMU leads, 12-6
10/15/94 - L, 21-38; Away
10/14/95 - W, 18-16; Home
11/2/96 - L, 35-38; Away
10/4/97 - W, 21-9; Home
10/3/98 - W, 42-17; Away
10/2/99 - W, 23-21; Home
10/28/00 - W, 38-31 (OT); Away
10/27/01 - W, 49-30; Home
10/12/02 - L, 0-29; Away
10/25/03 - W, 31-28; Home
10/23/04 - L, 17-20; Away
10/8/05 - W, 38-30; Home
10/7/06 - W, 14-10; Away
10/6/07 - L, 13-20; Home
10/25/08 - W, 35-3; Away
11/14/09 - W, 37-10; Home
9/25/10 - W, 30-9; Away
11/12/11 - L, 17-38; Home
@ Moon Township, Pa. - RMU, 7-2
@ Staten Island, N.Y. - RMU, 5-4
Wagner Quick Outs - Nine of RMU’s 18 meetings with Wagner have been decided by eight points or fewer, including five by three points or less ... Robert Morris has won 11 of the last 15 meetings between the two programs dating back to 1997, including three straight on the road … Jeff Sinclair set a career high with four touchdowns passes the last time the Colonials visited Staten Island … Brad Banas had an interception and a forced fumble in RMU’s last trip to Wagner … Three of RMU’s five longest interception returns in school history have come against Wagner … RMU’s single-game team records for highest yards per carry (7.2) and most passing yards per attempt (13.8) came against Wagner in consecutive years--1997 and 1998.
On This Date (Oct. 27) in Robert Morris Football History - Robert Morris has only played once before on October 27, and incidentally that game also came against Wagner in 2001. Additionally, both teams are entering the 2012 meeting having produced the exact same result one week prior as they did in 2001 as RMU is coming off a win over CCSU and Wagner beat Saint Francis last week. The Colonials jumped out to a 28-17 lead in that 2001 meeting, as the teams combined for 36 second-quarter points, and then put the game away by scoring the first three touchdowns of the second half to cruise to victory. Robert Morris scored seven touchdowns overall, tied for the second-highest in single-game history. Tim Levcik (1998-2001) led the effort as he was 25-of-41 for 277 yards and tossed five touchdown passes. Joe Austin (1999-2001) returned an interception 30 yards and also recovered a fumble as the Colonials forced four turnovers on the day. Reggie Chambers (1998-2001) added 11 tackles and an interception to help ensure a 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 107-84-1 (.560).
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 - Deontae Howard ran for a 2-yard touchdown, his second-career score, with just 1:50 remaining to lift RMU to a comeback victory … Jeff Sinclair’s fourth multi-TD pass outing in five games allowed him to become the fourth Colonial ever to reach 50 career touchdown passes and the fifth to surpass 5,000 career passing yards … Nolan Nearhoof had a strong performance defensively as he contributed 11 tackles, 2.0 tackles for a loss, one sack and two quarterback hurries ... True freshman Marcelis Branch notched an interception that directly led to the game-winning score, tallied three pass breakups, including two during CCSU’s final drive, and added six tackles … RMU was 2-for-2 on fourth down ... RMU improved to 14-5 all-time against CCSU.
400x2 - RMU posted a season-high 412 yards of total offense in last week’s 37-31 win over CCSU, marking the second-consecutive game that the Colonials topped 400 in that category. The past two weeks mark just the fourth time since the turn of the century that RMU has posted 400+ yards of total offense in back-to-back NEC games. Amazingly, the 1999 squad had five straight NEC games with 400+ yards of total offense.
Century Mark - Junior wide receiver Donte Jeter posted 103 receiving yards and a career-best two receptions for touchdowns as he topped 100 receiving yards for the third time this season last Saturday against Central Connecticut State. With that effort, Jeter became the first opposing player to post at least 100 receiving yards against the Blue Devils since former Colonial Shadrae King (2008-11) accomplished the feat in 2009. Jeter also topped the 100-mark @ Dayton and vs. Lafayette, when he notched a career-best 131 yards.
First Scores - Ryan Thermil opened the scoring last week against CCSU with his first-career touchdown. Thermil’s inaugural score came one week after fellow fullback Nick Groat and linebacker Brad Banas each notched their first-career touchdowns.
Triple Digits - Junior Evan Taylor has raised his level over the past four games as he looks to develop into a top-tier running back. Taylor had the most productive day of his young offensive career Oct. 6 at Saint Francis as he carried 25 times for a career-high 133 yards. Then Oct. 13 at Bryant, Taylor topped the century mark again, scampering for 105 yards on 18 attempts. He made it three straight as he ran for 126 yards on 20 carries against CCSU last week. In fact, Taylor was just six yards short of reaching the 100-yard rushing plateau in four straight games as he posted 94 in the Homecoming victory over Lafayette. On his last 78 rushing attempts, Taylor has rushed for 457 yards, an average of more than 5.8 yards per carry.
Winner, Winner - Senior quarterback Jeff Sinclair led both the game-tying and game-winning drives last Saturday against CCSU to rally RMU to a comeback victory. In doing so, Sinclair tied the Colonials’ program record for most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter (or overtime) of a career with five. Erik Cwalinski (2005-08) also has five such drives. Additionally, Cwalinski and Sinclair are the only two Colonials to lead Robert Morris on a game-winning drive in at least three different years.