RMU upsets Dayton



Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Samuel Anthony and Samuel Anthony

In stunning fashion, off the foot of freshman kicker Nick Bisceglia and with four seconds remaining, the Robert Morris football team upset one of the winningest teams in the FCS, the Dayton Flyers, by the final score of 13-10.

It was a game and a season that appeared to already have the Colonials counted out. And the game seemed to follow that trend.

Both teams opened slow out of the gate. New RMU quarterback Jimmy Walker transferred from San Diego State University and with him brought expectations for a revamped offense which at first seemed doubtful of ever coming true.

Walker ended the first quarter with only 5 passing yards.

“The receivers were cramping up, so we had to have different receivers out there, ” said head coach John Banaszak “I’d like to see us have more stability next time.”

Dayton came into this one at a disadvantage thanks to a preseason injury to their starting quarterback Alex Jeske that forced him to watch this game from the bench. Jeske led the team in both passing and rushing last season.

Redshirt sophomore Kyle Kaparos earned himself the starting job for week one and dazzled Dayton fans with a gorgeous touch pass to wide receiver Matt Tunnacliffe who made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone to give Dayton the 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Dayton appeared to be in complete control as the Colonials could find no answer offensively.

The Colonials’ struggles were highlighted by an ugly pass by Jimmy Walker that resulted in an interception for Dayton’s David Leisring, who took the ball all the way down to the RMU 12 yard line. Ultimately leading to a Dayton field goal. Increasing their lead to 10-0.

Right at the end of the second half, it appeared Jimmy Walker and his offense finally found the answers they were looking for.

The team quickly and effectively drove down the field, aided by a strong run and catch from University of Pittsburgh transfer Reggie Green, who steamrolled with the football inside the Dayton 30 yard line.

With 29 seconds remaining in the half, RMU was able to get on the board and get the lead down to 7.

Tavin Allison celebrates after his first career TD

That is when the momentum changed. And the second half became owned by the Robert Morris Colonials.

Marked by strong defensive play at the beginning of the third quarter, Jimmy Walker was able to quickly even up the game with a perfect pass deep to freshman Tavin Allison who recorded his first career touchdown in stunning and exciting fashion, putting his speed on display.

“They were singling him up all game,” said Walker. “And I knew if they kept doing that they’d be in trouble.”

Dayton had plenty of chances to take the lead in this one. The team was in prime field position for most of the third and fourth quarter but was unable to score even a single time. Freshman kicker Patrick Sandler missed two kicks on the day, a 32-yard kick that went off the left post and a 44-yard kick that sailed below the crossbar.

The forced fumble by DeFrances was the turning point of the game

The turning point in the game was when redshirt sophomore Devon DeFrances used his helmet to jar the ball loose, leading to a Ryan Richards Jr. fumble recovery and the Colonials in prime field position with just over two minutes left in the game.

“I was thinking a trick play so I was late to it,” said DeFrances. “But you got to put your helmet on the ball, that’s what they teach you, it’s technique.”

Robert Morris had possession of the ball and they were in field goal range, all they had to do was run the clock down and leave their fate up to the young freshman kicker.

The ball was kicked high and floated for what seemed like an eternity and as it went through the uprights it was hysteria at Joe Walton Stadium as the Colonials had pulled off the upset, going home winners against Dayton for only the third time and 20 appearances against the Flyers.

Robert Morris heads to Youngstown State next weekend to take on the national runners-up.

“We’re hot right now,” said Nick Bisceglia. “It’s gonna be a good game.”