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RMU's Russ Gains 163 Yards in NEC Win
With one senior on the starting defense and three on offense, the future looks bright for Robert Morris, which has experienced tough times in recent years.
The young Colonials (4-5, 3-2 Northeast Conference) seem to be on the upswing after an impressive 27-14 victory against Central Connecticut at Robert Morris’ Moon Township campus yesterday. It was Robert Morris’ third consecutive NEC victory after a 1-4 start.
“We’re starting to recruit a little better kid the last couple of years and a lot of them are playing,” said Robert Morris coach Joe Walton, whose program appeared headed for a third losing season in four years after a heartbreaking, 31-28 loss at Sacred Heart Oct. 4.
“I’m really pleased with our recruiting classes over the past couple years and it’s going to pay off down the road if we continue to do that.”
Walton can take heart that his team has a shot at the program’s 11th winning record in its 15 seasons. Robert Morris has a home game remaining Saturday against conference leader Albany (6-3, 5-0) and will conclude with a game Nov. 15 at Saint Francis, Pa., (0-8, 0-5).
“This is a very good conference and there are a lot of good coaches, so it’s tough every week,” said Walton, who led Robert Morris to five NEC titles, but none since 2000.
“It’s never easy in this conference and I hate to use the word parity, but there is a lot of good recruiting and good coaching going on,” he added, noting it was less competitive in the NEC in the 1990s.
With 25 freshmen and sophomores on the team’s two-deep roster, Walton is optimistic Robert Morris may be an NEC title-contender by next season.
The victory against Central Connecticut pushed Robert Morris into fourth-place in the eight-team conference, better than the seventh-place position predicted for it in the preseason.
“I think our guys are learning how to win,” Walton said. “We’re not quite there yet, but it’s a good young team and I’m very excited about what they’re doing now and I’m excited about the future of this team.”
Senior quarterback Erik Cwalinski had what Walton described as “his best game of the season” by passing for 249 yards and three touchdowns.
Cwalinski led the Colonials on a long, time-consuming drive in each half. The final touchdown came shortly after the Colonials’ defense, which starts four sophomores, held Central Connecticut on downs at the Robert Morris 1 while holding a 21-7 lead with 8:20 left to play. Robert Morris then reeled off six first downs before scoring on a 29-yard run by Myles Russ with 2:11 left for a 27-7 lead.
Josue Paul returned the kickoff 86 yards to cut the lead to 27-14. Robert Morris recovered the onside kick. Russ then picked up a first down on a 34-yard run to enable Cwalinski to run out the final 1:39 by taking a knee three times.
Russ finished with 163 yards on 20 carries, giving him 1,109 for the season. Russ is the first Robert Morris back to gain 1,000 yards in a season since Sam Dorsett in 2003.
RMU Football: Russ gains 163 yards in NEC win
By David Assad, Tri-State Sports & News Service