Robert Morris defense delivers in victory over Duquesne
The Robert Morris offense scored enough points for the Colonials to outlast visiting Duquesne on Saturday, but it was their defense that got coach Joe Walton's attention.
“They played their (tails) off,” said Walton, who will retire after the 2013 season, his 20th at Robert Morris. “The will that they had. They were not going to let Duquesne score.”
Jeff Sinclair rushed for one touchdown and threw a 41-yard scoring strike to Duane Mitchell in the fourth quarter that lifted the Colonials to a 17-13 victory at Joe Walton Stadium, virtually eliminating the Dukes from Northeast Conference title contention.
Trailing by four, Duquesne ran 14 plays to drive to the Robert Morris' 4 before Sean Patterson's fourth-down pass sailed over Sean Brady's head in the back of the end zone with 2:30 left, giving Robert Morris (3-6, 2-4) possession, and the Colonials held on for their third consecutive home victory.
“He was wide open there,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said.
“We just didn't complete the plays we needed to at the right time.”
Robert Morris trailed, 13-10, after Duquesne's Charlie Leventry kicked field goals of 20 and 22 yards on the final plays of the second and third quarters.
The teams traded first-quarter touchdowns, with Sinclair scoring for Robert Morris on an 11-yard run and Sean Patterson hitting Gianni Carter on an 8-yard pass for Duquesne (5-4, 3-3).
Greg Langer's 28-yard field goal put Robert Morris ahead, 10-7, early in the second quarter before Leventry's field goal to end the first half knotted the score at 10-10.
“We worked hard all week,” said Walton, who improved his overall record to 108-85-1 as the only football coach in Robert Morris history. “You've got to learn how to practice and take that with you to the game. That's what I asked them to do.”
Sinclair was 11 for 17 for 146 yards passing and added 60 rushing yards on seven carries for Robert Morris. Evan Taylor's 62 yards rushing led the Colonials.
“Duquesne is always tough,” said Sinclair, a Highlands High School product. “It's a little rivalry. It was on TV (ROOT Sports) and it turned into a bit of a night game. We always seem to play well under the lights.”
Larry McCoy, who last week became Duquesne's all-time leading rusher, gained 97 yards on 31 carries to lead the Dukes.
Patterson completed 20 of 34 passes for 195 yards.
The series between the two Pittsburgh-area schools is tied, 7-7. Duquesne had won seven of the past 10 meetings with Robert Morris.
Duquesne lost its second straight and third in the past four games.
The Dukes have two games remaining against the league leaders, No. 20 Albany (7-2, 5-1) next Saturday at Rooney Field and at Wagner (6-3, 6-1) on Nov. 17.
Wagner took over first place in the NEC with a 30-0 victory at Albany. The league winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs.
“Any week, anything can happen in this league,” Schmitt said.
“The majority of these games are decided in the fourth quarter. You've got to be prepared throughout the season. Robert Morris is a good NEC football team.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5617.