Preview: RMU vs. Duquesne, Colonials ready to Duke it out with Duquesne

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Preview: RMU vs. Duquesne, Colonials ready to Duke it out with Duquesne

Photo Credit: David Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

Nick Hedderick, Contributor

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Before getting into the details of the upcoming rivalry game between Duquesne and Robert Morris, I would first like to offer my condolences to the friends and family of Marquis Brown. Brown was a running back for Duquesne who passed away last Thursday. My thoughts and prayers are with Brown’s family as well as the entire Duquesne football family during this difficult time.

The Robert Morris Colonials (1-4, 0-2) will look to end their current three-game losing streak when they head to downtown Pittsburgh to take on the Duquesne Dukes (3-3, 0-1). Both teams will be looking for their first conference win of the season, and the bitter rivals are also playing for bragging rights.

RMU will look to come back strong following their 56-35 loss to Central Connecticut State (3-3,1-0) on homecoming weekend. Duquesne will be looking to get into the win column yet again following their 21-20 loss to the conference leader Bryant Bulldogs (4-1, 2-0). The showdown between the Dukes and Colonials will take place on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Rooney Field. Duquesne knocked off the Colonials 51-14 last season, and RMU is looking to get a win this year against their rivals. Now let’s take a look at the teams.

A glance at RMU

Robert Morris will be looking to notch their first NEC win of the year this Saturday. They will also try to stop their three-game losing skid. During this stretch of three games, the Colonials have given up 178 points which averages out to 59.3 points per game. On the entire season, they have given up an average of 560 yards and allowed 49.2 points. This is why the Colonials rank last in the NEC in terms of defense.

However, excluding the 73-7 loss to James Madison, the Colonials offense has held its own. They scored 46 points against Bryant and 35 points against the defending conference champions Central Connecticut State. Last week, in particular, QB Jimmy Walker threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Gonzalez, Walker’s go-to target, raked in both touchdown passes and totaled 59 yards on the play.

The Colonials ground game has been perhaps the brightest spot of this offense. Against CCSU, Alijah Jackson ran for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns. This was the second game in a row where the redshirt freshman ran for more than 100 yards. It is also the second game in a row where Jackson has scored two touchdowns. Terence Stephens would add 94 yards on the ground as well. They are proving to be a very dangerous backfield duo.

RMU currently ranks fifth in offense in the NEC, but the defense will need to give them some help if they want to win on Saturday. Last week, the Colonials allowed 699 yards on defense. They also allowed CCSU to control time of possession and let the Blue Devils convert on six of eight third-down conversions. It will be interesting to see if the defense can sharpen up and help the Colonials offense.

A look at the Dukes

Duquesne is coming off of a second place finish in the NEC last year. This year, the Dukes sit at 3-3. They dropped their first conference game to Bryant, the current leader, by one point. However, the Dukes did knock off Dayton by five points. For reference, the Flyers defeated RMU by 21 earlier this year.

Currently, the Dukes sit in second to last in terms of offense. They average 25.8 points per game and average 338.7 yards per game. Their defense ranks fifth in the NEC as they allow 391.8 yards per game. They have played FBS schools like Hawaii and UMass however, which might attribute to the high averages. Against FCS schools, Duquesne has played well going 3-1.

In their last game against Bryant, the Dukes held the lead three times. The Bulldogs would retaliate each time and eventually took a 21-20 lead which they would hang onto and win. Quarterback Daniel Parr threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Running back AJ Hines gained 81 yards on the ground and added a touchdown. Nehari Crawford had 113 yards receiving as well.

Hines currently ranks fourth in the NEC in rushing yards with 407 yards and six touchdowns. Crawford ranks second in the NEC in receiving with 38 catches and 649 yards, he has also added six touchdowns. Parr ranks fifth among quarterbacks in the NEC, and has thrown for 11 touchdowns and has 1,240 passing yards. The Dukes offense has several weapons that they can turn to in this game. RMU will need to make some adjustments to stop these playmakers.

Duquesne’s 305 total yards was seven more than Bryant’s 298, and the defense stopped Bryant and allowed them to convert on five of 16 third down conversions. Despite the loss, the Duke’s defense looked very good and didn’t let the 42 points they allowed against Hawaii to phase them in this game.

Duquesne beat RMU convincingly last year and will be looking to beat their rivals once again this year, this time at home. It will be interesting to see what happens under the lights on Saturday night.

Players to Watch

Alijah Jackson, Running Back, RMU

Jackson continues to get more and more carries each game. He has also scored four touchdowns in the teams last two games. Jackson also had back to back games with over 100 yards rushing. Duquesne’s rushing defense ranks 4th in the NEC, so it will be interesting to see how Jackson does against them.

Terence Stephens, Running Back, RMU

It might be odd to see two running backs as my players to watch, but Stephens and Jackson are both getting a decent amount of carries each game. Stephens has also managed to get a few big runs lately. Coming off a 94-yard performance against CCSU, Stephens will be looking to once again make an impact. He was kept out of the end zone against CCSU and will look to get back on the scoreboard this week.

Nehari Crawford, Wide Receiver, Duquesne

Crawford is one of the best receivers in the NEC. He has had three games of over 100 yards receiving, this includes a performance against Dayton that saw him rake in over 200 receiving yards. Against the RMU defense, who struggles in terms of pass defense, Crawford can have a huge game and make a huge impact on the field.

AJ Hines, Running Back, Duquesne

Hines is one of the best backs in the NEC. Last game, he tallied 81 yards on the ground. Against the Robert Morris defense, who ranks last in rushing defense, Hines could have a fantastic game. He could add to his touchdown total for the season in this one. Definitely keep your eyes on Hines.

Prediction

Robert Morris has not beaten Duquesne at Duquesne since 1996. Don’t expect that streak to end on Saturday. The Colonials offense will allow them to perhaps trade blows with the Dukes for a while, but as the game goes on, expect Duquesne to pull away and walk out with a victory against the Colonials. It will not be as bad of a loss for the Colonials as last year, but they will still come up short against the Dukes this weekend.

Final 45-27 Duquesne

 

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