MOON TWP., Pa. — The cross-city rivalry has not been much of one in recent years. Despite the Duquesne Dukes and Robert Morris Colonials playing in the same conference, the teams have been far apart as the Dukes are perennial Northeast Conference contenders every year, while Robert Morris has lost six straight in the rivalry and has been an NEC bottom feeder.
However, the Colonials have a new identity with second year head coach Bernard Clark, and were able to show that they are not going to be taken lightly anymore.
A 41-21 win over the Duquesne Dukes that pushed them to 5-0 in the NEC, tied for first place is the statement that this program needed to show that they are here to stay. The score finished closer than the game played out, as the Colonials outplayed the Dukes from start to finish.
Robert Morris got out to a hot start in this game. With starting quarterback Daniel Parr out, the Dukes turned to senior Brett Brumbaugh. The offense clearly felt the loss as their first three drives resulted in a punt, fumble lost, and interception.
“We did outstanding in the first half,” noted Clark. “We’ve been stressing trying to jump on them early, we knew they were an outstanding football team and we had to get up early.”
The interception by Jacob White put the Colonials at the two-yard line, and a quarterback keeper by George Martin from two yards out gave the Colonials a 7-0 lead. RMU was not satisfied and immediately recovered an onside kick, looking to put the pressure on the young quarterback.
The Colonials held A.J. Hines to 19 yards on seven rushes in the first half, and with Brumbaugh going 4-14 in his first start, the Dukes offense was a barrage of three and outs and turnovers.
“You have to be able to connect throwing the ball when they have a lot of guys in the box to stuff the run,” added Schmitt on the lack of offensive production. “Without being able to do that in the first half pit a lot of stress on our defense.”
Robert Morris took advantage by pressuring the quarterback, and going on long drives, to wear out the defense of the Dukes that had to consistently get on the field after the Dukes first six drives went for three plays or less.
A blocked field goal attempt as the half expired put an exclamation point on a poor half from all phases for Duquesne as they trailed 20-0.
Duquesne was able to get a spark in the second half with a 41-yard touchdown drive led by Mark Allen, and ending with a Brumbaugh pass to Dominic Thieman to cut the score to 20-7.
However, back to back interceptions, one going to the house all but ended the Duquesne comeback, and gave the Colonials a 27-7 lead in the third quarter.
“We stressed attacking, turning it over and getting to the ball all week,” noted Mason Gray, who had the interception for a touchdown.
The Dukes scored in garbage time, but a late pick six ended the game and gave them a 41-21 win. Duquesne turned the ball over six times when all was said and done.
“We were very generous with turnovers and it was too much over come,” added Schmitt.
Duquesne will look to get healthy and get back on track in the NEC with a trip to Bryant, who is 2-4 in the NEC. Meanwhile, it is Robert Morris with the much more significant game on the docket. They head to Central Connecticut State to take on another undefeated NEC team with a chance to claim sole possession of first place in the conference.
“Lets enjoy this for 24 hours,” said Clark on the win. “Come Tuesday lets start thinking about CCSU.”