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October 5, 2013

Sterling, Hawks too much for RMU

Sometimes, no matter what a team does, there's just no solution for a bad match-up.

Robert Morris didn't have an answer for Monmouth wide receiver Neal Sterling, as the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Sterling caught three first half touchdowns en route to a 35-9 thrashing of the Colonials.

Sterling, who often had a six-inch height advantage and 40-pound weight advantage on the smaller Robert Morris defensive backs, used his size to pull in touchdown catches of 9-yards, 13-yarda and 41-yards.

Sterling's second touchdown of the game hurt the most, as it came just after Robert Morris wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead. With the game tied at 7 in the second quarter, Robert Morris defensive lineman A.J. Holderman sacked Monmouth quarterback Brandon Hill and forced a fumble. RMU got the ball on the Hawks' 26-yard line but managed just one yard, and Hunter Khaleghi's 42-yard field goal was short.

It gave new life to Monmouth, which went on a 9-play, 74-yard drive to take the lead back. They never gave it up again.

Robert Morris actually scored first, thanks to a quick three-and-out and a blocked punt by Jimmy Masson. The sequence gave RMU the ball at the Monmouth 9-yard line, and two plays later, Paul Jones found D.J. Pearson for a 12-yard touchdown for an early 7-0 lead. It was the last time the RMU offense would sniff the end zone.

Robert Morris again broke through the punt protection at the end of the first half to force a safety to cut Monmouth's lead to 21-9, but the Colonials' offense never got in gear after that. Robert Morris was a woeful 2-of-13 on third down, 0-for-2 on fourth down, and had 11 penalties.

The two failed fourth down conversions were especially painful for Robert Morris. Both came in Monmouth territory, and both came with the offense possessing a little bit of momentum. But both times - once in the first quarter, once in the beginning of the fourth - fullback Corey Garry ran into a sea of Monmouth defenders and had nowhere to go.

And after the second fourth down stop, Monmouth chewed almost five minutes off the clock en route to a 14-yard K.B. Asante touchdown run that made it 28-9 and iced the game for the Hawks.

Asante had 103 yards on 15 carries, Julian Hayes had 104 yards on 26 carries, and Hill was 12-of-23 for 189 yards and the three touchdown passes to Sterling.

Jones finished 18-of-33 for 183 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Pearson had a career-high six receptions for 63 yards, while Deontae Howard ran 14 times for 76 yards for RMU.

Robert Morris (2-3) is off this week before playing its first home game in a month when it hosts Duquesne on October 19.



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