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September 15, 2012Taylor Harris and Jeff Sinclair both made crucial returns to the lineup for their respective teams, and Harris won the individual and the team battle.
Harris, back from a knee injury suffered in Week 1, ran for 107 yards and scored two touchdowns as Dayton held off a late Robert Morris rally to win 20-14.
Sinclair, Robert Morris' senior quarterback, made his first start since last November. The Highlands, Pa. native missed the final two games of 2011 with a knee injury and sat out the first two games of 2012 on a suspension.
Both showed rust early, as the two defenses carried the play throughout the first quarter. Neither Dayton nor Robert Morris scored in the opening frame, as the two exchanged turnovers and punts.
Neither offense got fully on track, as Dayton quarterback Will Bardo threw for just 75 yards and Robert Morris ran for just 77 yards on 37 attempts.
But Sinclair and Harris each found a way to spark their teams. Harris got Dayton on the board first, capping a 5-play, 53-yard drive with a 2-yard run to make it 7-0 with 3:03 left in the second quarter. Dayton added on right at the end of the half, as the Flyers' defense forced a Robert Morris punt from deep in the Colonials' own zone and needed just 30 yards to score. Bardo finally punched in the score with a 1-yard run and 14-0 halftime lead.
Sinclair ignited Robert Morris' beleaguered offense at the start of the second half, engineering an impressive 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his 18-yard touchdown pass to Paul Evans.
Robert Morris' defense held Dayton, but the Colonials' next offensive series wasn't nearly as productive as the previous one. RMU went 3-and-out from its own 16-yard line, and Tony LaMancusa kicked a 27-yard punt that left Dayton in great field position.
Harris soon scored his second touchdown of the day, this time from 13 yards out, and pushed Dayton's lead to 20-7.
That stayed the score until Sinclair hit Donte Jeter over the middle for a 77-yard touchdown with 4:37 to go. The Colonials even got a defensive stop and the ball back with 2:54 left and two timeouts left, but the drive stalled at midfield. On 4th-and-15 at their own 48, Sinclair's pass for Jeter on the sideline was intercepted by Matt Pfelger to ice the game.
Sinclair ran eight times for 39 yards, but he was also sacked five times and ended up with a net yardage of five yards. He finished 10-of-27 passing for 176 yards and two interceptions.
The win marked the 400th straight game that Dayton had not been shut out, the longest current stretch in the NCAA. The team's last shutout was a 9-0 loss to Marshall on Oct. 16, 1976. It also extended their win streak in the series to ten straight. Robert Morris has not beaten Dayton since 2000 and trails the Flyers 13-2 in the series.
Jeter caught four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Mike Cook led the team with 11 tackles, Chris Thompkins and Nolan Nearhoof registered the team's first two sacks of the season, and Antwan Eddie came up with RMU's first interception.
The two teams combined for 19 penalties, with the Colonials penalized ten times for 94 yards.
Robert Morris is off for a week before returning to action at Joe Walton Stadium on September 29 at 6:00 p.m. against Lafayette.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Check back with ColonialsCorner for more post-game coverage throughout the weekend
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