Colonial Talk: RMU vs Dayton (Football)


Alec Balenciaga

Nic Lamica grabbed this TD pass, but RMU fell short

Brandon Rossi, Staff Reporter

Final Score: Dayton 27  Robert Morris 24
Top Performers:
S Danny Leach (Dayton) – 2 solo tackles, 4 total tackles, 2 INT
DB Ryan Richards (RMU) – 2 solo tackles, 6 total tackles, 2 INT
QB Alex Jeske (Dayton) – 11/17, 162 passing yards, 6 carries, 41 rushing yards, 2 TD
A NEW BEGINNING: Throughout training camp, there was a vibe amongst the team that this was not the team that Banaszak inherited the year prior. 15 starters returned from the previous season, however the big change was who was calling the plays. The 6-4 210 pound true freshman from Troy, Ohio Matt Barr made his first collegiate start versus the Flyers, and in some cases his debut was a success. He finished the day with only 14 of his 34 pass attempts complete, and he did throw two interceptions, however he also managed to throw for 156 yards within those 14 completions to accompany his two touchdowns. One of those came off a 6-yard fade pattern to Redshirt-Sophomore Tight End Nic Lamica, and the other coming off a 1-yard sneak.
“He did some things wrong, but I thought he was able to put that behind him, come out and play the next play which is something we talked about.” Coach John Banaszak said, “He’s a freshman, and he’s gonna make some mistakes, but he’s also gonna make some plays for us.”
Another huge improvement over last season was in how the defense played. It may be game one, but the defense was holding their own against a tough Dayton offense, keeping the Flyers off the scoreboard through the first 34 minutes of play.
“We’ve got a very good defense, a very strong defense,” said Banaszak. “We were on the field a lot, but I told our kids that we can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve gotta play.”
The Colonials were able to block a field goal and a punt, while two Ryan Richards interceptions equaled out to four total turnovers caused by the RMU defense.
BACK AND FORTH: Last year, the Dayton-RMU game was a lopsided affair, with the Flyers getting out to a quick 14-0 start early in the first quarter. This time around, things were different. The Colonials and Flyers swapped leads four times during the game, with RMU breaking a scoreless tie at the 9:11 mark of quarter two.
After going into halftime with a 10-0 lead, Dayton scored 17 unanswered to take the lead, which included a 93 yard interception return from senior safety Danny Leach. Then it was Robert Morris’s turn to score 14 unanswered after taking the lead on a blocked punt returned for a 26-yard touchdown by sophomore Cole Blake at the 12:53 mark in the final frame. After Jeske ran for the game tying score, senior kicker William Will booted a 37-yard game clinching field goal with 2:32 left to play.
After another Danny Leach interception and Dayton’s inability to move the ball, Robert Morris took over from their own 21 yard line with only 46 seconds left. After driving down the Dayton 28, the clock stopped at two seconds left after a converted first down, and that’s when the confusion began. Coach Banaszak and his staff were yelling to spike the ball, however Matt Barr tried to make something happen, and it led to a sack on the final play of the game.
“The plan was to spike it,” Barr elaborated. “The umpire said, ‘you can’t spike it within two seconds. It’ll be flagged and clock runoff, so I tried to make something happen.”
RICHARDS’ MONSTER QUARTER: The second quarter belonged to Robert Morris undoubtedly, and it was led by Ryan Richards, who was “in the right place at the right time,” as he claimed. He was able to intercept two Dayton passes, and swatted down a pass that would have almost certainly gone for a 74 yard touchdown. Richards led a strong defensive performance in the first 30 minutes of the season opener.
“We really just got to do our job,” said Richards. “Nothing too fancy, nothing extra. We just gotta do our job and we should be successful.”
Despite the comeback from Dayton, Richards shined light on the situation, describing the second half more or less as a learning experience. “We’ve got to learn how to close. We carry this game into Youngstown [State], we can just have the momentum and be right on.”
TURNING POINT: Following a botched punt return by Dayton that was recovered by Marquis Robinson at the Dayton 10, the Flyers’ Danny Leach responded in a big way. The Colonials trying to make it a two score game with a third-and-goal from the 22. Barr’s pass was intercepted by Danny Leach at the 7-yard line, and he took it the rest of the way, which allowed Dayton back into the game, and without the defensive play, the Flyers may not have been in the situation they found themselves in throughout most of the second half.
THE FINAL: Despite a strong first half showing from the Colonials, Dayton outscored RMU in the second half 27-14 to come back and escape Joe Walton Stadium with the victory. Even though Robert Morris came way with a loss to start the season, one cannot help but be optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We didn’t win today, but in the scheme of things, it didn’t really mean an awful lot,” said Coach Banaszak. “I like the way we played today, I like the challenges that we had out there, I like the competition, a lot of good stuff today.”
The Colonials travel to take on #16 Youngstown State in Youngstown, Ohio in the second of five non-conference football games Robert Morris will play in 2015. It will surely be one of the toughest tests Coach Banaszak and his squad will be challenged with all year.