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District college football preview: Aug. 29, 2013

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Robert Morris at No. 19 Eastern Kentucky

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Robert Morris coach Joe Walton's last season will begin with a series of firsts. The Colonials will play Eastern Kentucky for the first time. ... Robert Morris, which has 14 returning starters, would make quite a first impression on FCS opponents if it upends Eastern Kentucky, which has 11 starters back from a team that went 8-3 and finished No. 19 in last season's coaches poll. ... Preseason all-conference selections Farren Mason (senior defensive lineman and Gateway alum), Mike Cook (senior linebacker) and Marcelis Branch (sophomore defensive back) headline a defense that might cause problems for Eastern Kentucky, which graduated its all-time leading passer, its star wide receiver and its star running back. ... Cook led Robert Morris with 88 tackles last season, and Branch earned the NEC's Defensive Rookie of the Year honor. ... Junior Paul Jones, a Sto-Rox alum, will make his debut at quarterback after transferring from Penn State last fall.

Albany at Duquesne

When: 12:10 p.m. Saturday

Duquesne has one win in six games against Albany, which moved to the Colonial Athletic Association after 14 years in the Northeast Conference. One season ago, Albany withstood a late Duquesne rally to prevail, 38-31. The Great Danes, who split the conference title with Wagner, led, 35-7, at halftime in that game. Duquesne's loss was part of a late-season skid in which the Dukes dropped five of their final six games. ... Only 11 starters return for Albany, one reason why the team finished 10th out of 11 teams in its new conference's preseason poll. ... Duquesne, which has 13 returning starters and was second in the NEC preseason poll, will find out how its offense fares after losing Larry McCoy, the school's all-time leading rusher, and Sean Patterson, who started 33 consecutive games at quarterback.

— Bill West

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