Colonial Talk: RMU vs. Notre Dame College (Ohio)

Joseph Garis, Staff Reporter

Final Score: Robert Morris 35 Notre Dame (Ohio) 24

Top Performers:

RB Cole Blake (RMU) – 25 carries, 136 yards

S George Berry (NDC) – 17 total tackles

WR Kyle Buss (RMU) – 9 Receptions, 108 receiving yards, 1 TD, 5 carries, 27 rushing yards

Full Steam Ahead: The Robert Morris Colonials came right out of the gate scoring 21 points before Notre Dame College (Ohio) Falcons could even string together a drive that did not go three-and-out when the teams meet at Joe Walton Stadium for the Colonials homecoming game. It looked like the Colonials were on the verge of not only their first win of the season, but a major blowout. Despite developing what was seeming like it would become an insurmountable lead, they quickly discovered why the football program at Notre Dame (Ohio) is considered up and coming. With quarterback Malik Groves at the helm, the Falcons quickly scored an unanswered 24 points. By the beginning of the third quarter it was apparent that something needed to happen, and the Colonials seemed to make the proper corrections.

With the help of running back Cole Blake, they marched down the field twice in an attempt to score. The first time resulted in a missed field goal which seemed to all but spell the end for the Colonials by ripping away their momentum. The Colonials defense came out and held, and this time the offense delivered by the way of a one yard touchdown run from quarterback Matthew Barr. From there the Colonials continued to hold, with the defense picking off Grove twice, once returned for a touchdown by Defensive Lineman Forest Mason, and the other to seal the deal as it seemed that the Falcons were about to score again and attempt an onside kick to try and even the score.

The end result was a W in the record book and one happy homecoming weekend for the Colonials. When Coach Banaszak was asked about how the first win of the season felt he had this to say, ” It feels real good. The Kids, the coaches did a good job. We played the best first quarter of football we’ve played in a long time here at Robert Morris, then we turned around played the worst second quarter that we’ve played in a long time. The coaches did a good job settling them down at halftime and then we played a real good second half.”

Next Man Up: By the end of the first half, it seemed like the Colonials were going to see their third tough loss in a row. Not only did they give up a 21 point lead, running back Ramses Owens, a key part of their running game, went down with an ankle injury that ended his day. While we always here the mantra that in football that it is always the next man up, Cole Blake lived up to that mantra in style. Coming onto the field with his team down, Cole Blake played a key part in not only his teams offense, but in getting and sealing the win for the Colonials. When the defense came out and did it’s job in the third quarter by shutting down the Falcons potent offense that had just scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter of the game, there was a sense of wonder for what the response of the Colonials would be. Then like a scene from a movie, Blake stepped up and helped lead the Colonials down the field on multiple drives until they scored to give themselves the lead. Then, with 5:29 left in the game, he helped lead the Colonials from their 1 yard line on with three consecutive runs going for first downs. That drive helped eliminate all of the Falcons first downs and turned what seemed like giving the Falcons a perfect position to take the lead to what ultimately turned into the Groves’ interception that helped seal the game. A humble person, Blake refused to take credit for that drive, giving the credit to his offensive line, citing their excellent blocking on that crucial third and six that kept the drive alive.

Penalties, Penalties, Penalties: 108. That is how many yards penalties cost the Colonials. Penalties can kill a drive, a game, and a team. Teams that commit to many penalties rarely win games, but thankfully for the Colonials, the Falcons committed just as many penalties. How ever it was worrisome though out the game watching the opposing team gain field position from a penalty, or watching the offense have a huge play erased by a holding call. The physical nature of football often leads to penalties, but when coach Banaszak was not pleased with the number of penalties on his team he said, “I am not happy about that for sure. We had three really, really bad penalties and we need to eliminate that. If we want to be a really great football team we have to eliminate that.”

Depth Providing Rest: Offensive lineman Max Robertson and defensive lineman Ryan Lewis, who are both nursing minor injuries, were able to receive a day of rest thanks to the strong performance from the depth players behind them. While to most this may not seem like an important sentiment, to the Colonials it is a sigh of relief. Now as the Colonials proceed to next week’s opponent, the #8 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, they have been able to rest key parts of their team as they hope to pull the upset in this David versus Goliath match-up.

The Final: In the end, the Colonials were able to walk away with not only their first win of the season, but with the cheers from a practically filled Joe Walton Stadium. The struggles of this game showed that the team may still have away to go, but the ability to compete and stay in the game despite the adversity they faced proved that they have already come far.