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September 14, 2013Tweet Follow @achiappazzi
Joe Walton is at a loss when it comes to the Dayton Flyers.
"What do you want to call it, the Dayton jinx?" Walton asked. "I don't know."
Robert Morris managed just 187 yards of offense and a late RMU turnover helped the Flyers topped Robert Morris 21-14. It was the 11th consecutive win by Dayton in the series, which the Flyers lead 14-2. It's a match-up that continuously vexes Walton and the Robert Morris coaching staff.
"I have no idea. We certainly didn't play very well today offensively, that's for sure," Walton said. "There were a lot of dumb things done."
A week after using a balanced offense and three Paul Jones touchdowns to trounce Morgan State, Robert Morris failed to connect on much at all on offense against Dayton. Jones was a woeful 6-of-24 for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but he was victimized often by dropped passes.
"Most of those guys have pretty good hands," Walton said. "They're not catching them. I can't tell you why. It's not like they haven't done it before. That's a big part of it."
There was no official tally of dropped passes available, but an unofficial count brought the total to seven. Wide receiver Duane Mitchell had two clear drops, as did tight end Tyler Digby. The missed connections in the passing game helped stall a Robert Morris offense that also struggled to find running room. Deontae Howard had just 36 yards on 13 carries to lead the way, and RMU managed 75 rushing yards on 28 carries as a team.
Despite the struggles on offense, especially in the passing game, Walton said RMU wanted to let Jones and the receivers work through the problems. He didn't consider a shake-up under center, even for a series or two.
"That thought comes to your mind sometimes, but we felt like Paul would get straightened out and finish the game pretty well," Walton said. "The best thing I can say is that Paul is still learning. He doesn't have a complete grasp of everything quite yet, and when he does I hope to see us do better."
The game was tight throughout the first half as Robert Morris' defense kept Dayton's offense quiet. After an 8-play, 75-yard Dayton drive on the opening series ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Will Bardo to Branden Johnson, Robert Morris kept Dayton off the scoreboard the rest of the first half.
Robert Morris even capitalized on a rare Dayton mistake, turning a muffed punt into a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jones to D.J. Pearson. That first quarter score tied the game at seven, a score that lasted through halftime. Dayton had 75 yards on that first series but just 96 the rest of the half.
"We were just doing our jobs," RMU linebacker Mike Cook said. "A few busted plays and mistakes by everybody, including myself, and there you have it."
Thanks to two missed Dayton field goals, the game was still tied at seven entering the fourth quarter. But Dayton rolled on a 7-play, 93-yard touchdown drive that ended with Bardo's 41-yard touchdown pass to Johnson and a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Nolan Harmotto knocked the ball lose from Brian Jones on the return, and Dayton recovered at the RMU 39-yard line. A methodical 10-play drive ended with Connor Kacsor's 2-yard touchdown run and a 21-7 lead.
"They're a real disciplined team and they take advantage of your mistakes," wide receiver Donte Jeter said. "It's tough to beat a team like that."
Robert Morris got a late touchdown when Jones found Mitchell for a 40-yard score, but Dayton recovered the ensuing kickoff.
Despite the three touchdowns, Joe Walton credited his defense for playing well. Cook had a career-high 19 tackles, just one shy of the Robert Morris single-game record. Kyle Cooper had 12, while A.J. Holderman had a sack and Forrest Mason and Chris Thompkins each had half of a sack.
The loss also cast a pall on the 200th game in program history and left Robert Morris with a sour taste heading into the bye week.
"It's not a rest week," Jeter said. "It's a work week."
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