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October 6, 2012

Colonials offense falters in loss

Robert Morris found a running game for the second straight week and shut down the No. 7 ranked rushing offense in all of Division I FCS.

It wasn't enough for the Colonials to overcome their own sputtering passing game, as St. Francis defeated RMU 10-3 at DeGol Field in Loretto.

Redshirt sophomore running back Evan Taylor carried 25 times for 131 yards, becoming the first Robert Morris back to rush for over 100 yards since Myles Russ did it against North Dakota State in the 2010 FCS playoffs. But quarterback Jeff Sinclair was just 10-of-28 for 113 yards, an interception, and two sacks. Robert Morris' offense converted just four of 14 opportunities on third down.

The Colonials had a chance to tie the game twice in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. After a punt snap sailed over the head of St. Francis punter Grant Price, Robert Morris had a first down on the St. Francis 39-yard line. The Colonials moved down to the 12, but three Sinclair passes fell incomplete.

Robert Morris quickly shut down St. Francis, getting the ball back with 48 seconds left. Sinclair hit Paul Evans to get past midfield, but he was forced to scramble for 1-yard, taking precious time off the clock on first down. Sinclair spiked the ball, then threw a short pass to Deontae Howard, who wasn't able to get anywhere near the sideline.

Sinclair then heaved a desperation pass down the sideline for Donte Jeter but it fell incomplete, ending the game.

Robert Morris' inability to establish a counterpart to Taylor's performance on offense wiped out a strong performance from the Colonials' defense. St. Francis ran for just 122 yards, well below their average of 262 yards per game. Instead, the Red Flash leaned on a big pass play out of a passing game that had averaged 87 yards per game entering the contest.

That play came early in the second quarter, as quarterback John Kelly launched a 50-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Abeid. It accounted for 50 of St. Francis' 190 yards passing and gave the Red Flash an early 7-0 lead.

Robert Morris eventually responded late in the second quarter, as Sinclair's 23-yard pass to Evans put RMU within Greg Langer's range. The Colonials took a couple of shots at the end zone but settled for Langer's 44-yard field goal. It appeared that would be the score at the half, but St. Francis quickly moved downfield to give Josh Thiel a shot at a 48-yard field goal. Thiel missed it, but RMU freshman corner Marcelis Branch was called for roughing the kicker, giving Thiel another shot from 33-yards out. Thiel made it, and the 10-3 score held until the final whistle.

Outside of the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Robert Morris' best chance to score in the second half came midway through the third quarter. Taylor helped carry RMU down inside the St. Francis 30, but on a run down the sideline, he had the ball punched out. St. Francis recovered at their own 28 and snuffed out the RMU drive.

Robert Morris (1-4, 0-2 NEC) hits the road again next week on a long trip to face winless Bryant.



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