Carney’s Corner: Fans need to show up on Saturday for football
November 7, 2019
Editor’s Note: All opinions on RMU Sentry Media are the writer’s own.
MOON TOWNSHIP — I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s time for fans to return to Joe Walton Stadium. After years of mediocrity, the Robert Morris football team (5-4, 4-0 NEC) is playing meaningful football in November against their conference rival.
I don’t need to tell Robert Morris fans that the program has been the laughingstock on campus since their last conference championship in 2010.
Since 2010, the football team has never finished with a winning record, averaged just 2.75 wins per season, finished outside of the bottom three in the NEC just once (2013), finished with no conference wins twice (2017, 2018) and fell to Division-II teams Alderson Broaddus and Kentucky State (5-3, 2-3 SIAC), with the Kentucky State loss coming earlier this season.
Nobody will sugarcoat how embarrassing all of that is, but absolutely none of these misfortunes matter now. None of that matters because the 2019 team is currently 4-0 in NEC play.
Granted, Robert Morris has been gifted with an easy start to their conference schedule, as they have already faced the bottom four teams in the NEC. That might cause the skeptical fans to think that this is a fluke, as their final three opponents are the only other teams in the NEC with a winning record.
Who cares if their schedule, to this point, has been the easiest in the NEC? They have four wins in conference play, their most since 2010 (7-1), and did this after two win-less conference seasons.
And now they’re heading into a match-up with their only real conference rival with the winner likely receiving a share of the conference title.
It’s a beatable Duquesne (6-2, 4-0 NEC) team as well. Duquesne had an almost identical weak schedule as Robert Morris in the NEC to this point, with the lone exception being a win against Sacred Heart (5-4, 3-2 NEC) instead of Wagner (1-8, 1-3 NEC).
Duquesne though has also not impressed in their games against the weaker NEC teams, as they only beat Wagner and Long Island University (0-8, 0-7 NEC) by a single possession, with both of those games taking place at home.
In addition to that, starting quarterback Daniel Parr left last week with an injury, potentially making Duquesne more beatable for Robert Morris.
That means FCS football’s 90th-ranked offense will be without one of their key players. Of course, losing Parr doesn’t help the challenge of Robert Morris’s 109th-ranked offense trying to score on FCS football’s eighth-ranked defense.
The game still has the makings for a statement victory for second-year head coach Bernard Clark, whose well-documented defensive mind has improved the Colonials’ defensive standing from 44th in FCS to 21st in his second season.
So it’s time for the fans to come out and support their Colonial football team. It’s a winnable game against a conference rival that has major conference implications.
A win against Duquesne means that the Colonials can clinch a conference share next week with a win over no. 17 Central Connecticut State (8-1, 4-0 NEC).
In addition to being the 17th ranked team in FCS football, CCSU is first in FCS football in total defense and 38th in total offense, which easily makes them RMU’s toughest conference-foe this season.
All of that makes this week all the more important.
With the tough battle at CCSU looming next week, a statement win against the NEC’s other undefeated team will be enough to show the conference that, regardless of their standing at the end of the season, Robert Morris football is back.
Furthermore, heading into the week against CCSU after a loss will be momentum-killing for Robert Morris. A win this week will give Robert Morris their first non-losing season since 2010, whereas a loss could set up a disappointing finish for a program that is finally showing signs of life.
With the three toughest opponents in the NEC in the final three weeks for Robert Morris, a losing season is very much still a possibility. But the chance to defeat their rival for the first time since 2013, clinch a non-losing season for the first time since 2010 and come within a win of their first conference title since 2010 all will take place, this Saturday, on their own home turf.
It’s time for the fans to show up and give this team their support. For the first time since the days of Joe Walton, they have more than earned it.