Preview: RMU Football welcomes CCSU on homecoming weekend

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Preview: RMU Football welcomes CCSU on homecoming weekend

Nick Hedderick, Contributor

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For the first time in nearly a month, the Robert Morris football team will have a game at home. The Colonials (1-3, 0-1) will welcome the defending NEC Champions, Central Connecticut State (2-3, 0-0) to Joe Walton Stadium on Saturday.

This will also be the homecoming game, which makes this game that much more significant. CCSU fell to Lafayette in their last game by a final score of 31-24. As for the Colonials, they fell in a heartbreaking loss against the current conference leaders, Bryant, by a score of 49-46. With both teams looking to avenge their recent losses, this will be a huge game. Especially when you add in the homecoming factor. Here’s an in-depth look at the teams and some of their key players.

A look at RMU

The Colonials will be looking to end a two-game losing streak this weekend when CCSU comes into town. On September 13th, RMU fell to nationally ranked James Madison 73-7. This was a game that allowed Robert Morris to play against great competition and gain experience, but not much good came from it otherwise.

Their last game was a loss against Bryant (3-1, 1-0) while on the road. Despite the loss, the Colonials were resilient and fought hard against the Bulldogs for the entire game. RMU found themselves down 35-17 early in the third quarter.

The Colonials would rally from this deficit and eventually took the lead with a score of 46-42. However, the defense allowed a touchdown late in the game and RMU fell 49-46.

Jimmy Walker went 20-28 and threw for 238 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two touchdowns, and for the first time this year, he didn’t throw an interception. Running back Alijah Jackson had a breakout game and ran for 109 yards and scored two touchdowns. Terence Stephens also ran for a touchdown. Matthew Gonzalez also had 50 receiving yards and added a touchdown to his stat line as well.

The Colonials defense might have given up 49 points, but they forced two interceptions. They still rank last in the NEC in total defense as well as rushing defense. The defensive struggles will need to stop in order to beat Central Connecticut. The offense currently ranks last in scoring offense, and second to last in total offense. However, they still average around 26 points a game and the Colonials did play a difficult nonconference slate.

A glance at Central Connecticut State

CCSU will kick off their conference schedule this weekend against RMU. Last season, they beat the Colonials 42-14 in a one-sided game. This year, the defending conference champs will be hoping for a similar result. The Blue Devils record is currently 2-3, and they have split their last two games.

Central Connecticut has returned several key players on both offense and defense. It would not be a surprise to see them play well against NEC opponents again this year. Despite the 2-3 start, the Blue Devils are still a tough team to beat. Two of their losses were one or two score games, and their wins have all been quite impressive.

Their scoring offense currently ranks second to last in the conference, but their total offense ranks fourth. They also have the third best rushing offense but have struggled through the air as they sit in sixth in that department.

In their last game, the passing offense showed signs of improvement as Quarterback Jacob Dolegala went 23-36 for 202 yards and a touchdown. He also added 37 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Running back Enyce Walker added 73 yards and a touchdown as well proving that this rushing offense is very dangerous.

The CCSU defense ranks third in the NEC, and their rushing defense ranks second. This makes up for their struggling pass defense which ranks second to last. They currently give up 353.8 yards per game, and they gave up 412 yards last game.

 

Players To Watch

Alijah Jackson (RMU): Perhaps no player on the Colonials’ roster has improved as much as Alijah Jackson. The redshirt freshman running back had just six carries in the team’s opener against Dayton. Each game since he gotten more and more carries. In the Colonials game against Bryant, Jackson finally had his breakout game as he rushed for 109 yards and scored two touchdowns. He earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors for his efforts. This week he will be playing against a very good CCSU rushing defense. It will be very interesting to see if Jackson can turn out yet another good performance this week.

Jimmy Walker (RMU): Jimmy Walker has had a rocky season thus far. However, RMU’s starting quarterback has shown signs of improvement and flashes of brilliance. Walker has tossed five touchdowns and four interceptions this season and will definitely be looking to improve upon that this season. He is also coming off his best performance of the season, which will hopefully propel him to a good game against CCSU. Walker has also collected three rushing touchdowns this year as well. As he becomes more versatile, he is becoming more of a threat. It will be interesting to see if Walker can pick apart the CCSU defense. Their passing defense ranks second to last, as mentioned earlier. This could potentially be a breakout game for him. He is definitely a player to keep your eyes on this Saturday.

Enyce Walker (CCSU): Walker could potentially have a huge game. The starting running back for Central Connecticut State has racked up 233 yards on the season so far against the very good competition of CCSU’s nonconference schedule. Walker also averages just under seven yards per carry. Robert Morris has not been too good as far as rushing defense is concerned, and Walker could really start to take advantage of that in this game. His best game this year saw him gain 81 yards, but look for him to flirt with 100 yards this week.

Jacob Dolegala (CCSU): Dolegala and the CCSU passing offense have not done a fantastic job this year. However, that could change this weekend. Look for Dolegala to expose the RMU defense and have a big game on the road this weekend. He has only had one game where he threw over 300 yards, but this weekend he could throw that much and more. The RMU defense will need to step up and attempt to shut him down, but that is easier said than done.

Prediction

This game is very interesting on paper. A bad rushing defense is taking on a good rushing offense. Two offenses that have struggled as a whole going up against defenses that have struggled as a whole as well. The big crowd might be able to help support the Colonials, but I don’t think it will be enough to lead them to a win. Walker and Dolegala can both take over this game and I do think that Jimmy Walker will connect with Matthew Gonzalez and make this a high-scoring game. However, this won’t be enough to send the homecoming crowd home happy.

48-35 Central Connecticut State

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