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Robert Morris Coasts in Season Opener
That Robert Morris led Morehead State by 13 points as halftime approached was a comforting thought to the Colonials in their college football opener Saturday at Joe Walton Stadium.
Getting an another touchdown with 29 seconds left in the first half was an unexpected bonus.
Senior quarterback Erik Cwalinski passed for 225 yards, including a 31-yard scoring strike to senior Sherrod Evers just before intermission, and the Colonials offered a balanced mix of running and passing throughout to outclass Morehead State, 27-13.
Sophomore Myles Russ gained 132 yards rushing on 19 carries for Robert Morris, which outgained Morehead State in total yards, 402-239.
The Colonials led at halftime, 20-0.
“We got our running game going, and our defense played outstanding,” Robert Morris coach Joe Walton said. “Our biggest goals this year were to run the ball better and to stop the run better. We showed signs today that we’re improving.”
Robert Morris (1-0) is attempting to bounce back from a 4-6 season in 2007, only its fourth losing record in 14 years since Walton began the Division I Football Championship Series program in 1994.
“We ran the ball well. That helped me a lot,” Cwalinski said. “We were a completely different team out there than last year. Our receivers caught the ball well, too, even though I underthrew a few.”
Evers caught 10 passes for 159 yards in his return to the lineup after sitting out last season with a wrist injury. His 42-yard reception set up Garrett Clawson’s second field goal of the second quarter, a 35-yard kick that gave Robert Morris a 13-0 lead.
Jesse Kastelic scored on a pair of 1-yard runs for Robert Morris, which outgained Morehead State on the ground, 177-34.
Kastelic’s first touchdown gave the Colonials a 7-0 lead.
Field goals by Clawson of 22 and 35 yards boosted the advantage to 13-0 before Cwalinski and Evers hooked up to give the Colonials their 20-point halftime bulge.
Kastelic’s second touchdown put Robert Morris up, 27-0, before Morehead State (1-1) managed to score once each in the third and fourth quarters on a 1-yard run by Michael Kearns and a 51-yard pass from Evan Sawyer to Nick Feldman.
Morehead State coach Matt Ballard, remembering last year’s defensive struggle with Robert Morris that resulted in the Eagles’ 9-8 loss, was impressed with the Colonials, who started 10 underclassmen, including four freshmen.
“Their pressure hurt us,” Ballard said. “They were sound and sharp. They were more aggressive than us.”
The victory was the first in an opener for Robert Morris since beating Division III Buffalo State, 45-10, in 2004.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Walton said. “We played so many young guys, some of them for the first time. Our young guys came out and played hard. It was a good start. I was pleased, but we have work to do.”
Next up for the Colonials is a meeting Saturday with Bucknell at Joe Walton Stadium. The Bison, members of the Patriot League, played host last night to Duquesne.
Robert Morris coasts in season opener
By Dave Mackall, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review