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RMU struggles in return to the gridiron against Kennesaw State

RMU struggles in return to the gridiron against Kennesaw State

After a long break between games, the Robert Morris football team struggled in its return to in-game action on Saturday, falling to no. 7 Kennesaw State 35-0.

The Colonials (0-2, 0-1 Big South) had no answer for the speedy KSU run game, which registered 332 rush yards. Meanwhile, RMU struggled to move the ball in any way for a large portion of the game, totaling just 115 yards on the offensive end.

Kennesaw State (4-0, 2-0 Big South) spread out the running onslaught through a legion of players. In total, four Owls tallied over 50 yards on the ground, with quarterback Xavier Shepherd leading the way with 93 yards. 

After making the most of James Madison’s mistakes in their season opener, the Colonials squandered opportunities and had a number of miscues throughout the afternoon in their first game in over 30 days. 

It did not take long for the first mistake to come back and bite RMU. After going three and out on their first drive, George Souders shanked his punt and allowed the Owls’ drive to start at the RMU 40. KSU quarterback Xavier Shepherd ran one in from the goal line after a swift 40-yard drive from the gritty Owls’ run game. 

After failing to recover a muffed punt after another quick series on offense, RMU’s Jamar Shegog dove on a Shepherd fumble that allowed the Colonials to set up shop with great field position. That’s when the second big mistake came. George Martin attempted to thread the needle moments later, but KSU’s Bryson Armstrong made a great play to record an interception and scurried down the field for a 75-yard pick-six to put KSU ahead 14-0.

Martin, looking to right the wrong he just made, narrowly overthrew Jerry Hanks, who had a step on a defender, on fourth down just a drive later. KSU responded by stringing together another run-heavy drive that was finished off by Isaac Foster’s 20-yard touchdown run that saw him evade some defenders as he navigated the sideline. 

Shepherd didn’t throw the ball much, but he sure made it count when he did. A handful of plays after completing his first pass of the afternoon with just over four minutes to play in the first half, the Nashville native pulled back after a fake handoff attempt and rocketed a 33-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Will Haigler to break the game open, 28-0.

In total, Shepherd threw just three passes but connected on each one. On the other end, George Martin struggled, going just 8 of 19 for 51 yards and an interception. Alijah Jackson was a bright spot for RMU, picking up 94 yards on the day after he got his legs going in the second half. His efforts, in addition to some promising completions on third down by Martin, had the Colonials on the Owls’ doorstep late in the third quarter.

That chance would be washed away after Demonte Martin got hit with a snap while he was coming over in motion. The ball rolled forward and was pounced on by KSU defenders. Again, RMU had squandered a chance to build some momentum. 

Between the time-consuming drives, the Owls had put together in the second half, there was a lot of pushing and shoving after plays. The game certainly did not resemble two conference foes meeting for the first time ever, but old rivals having a go at it. Amidst the chippy play on the field, Adeolu Adeleke ran in the game’s final touchdown from 15 yards out to give the Owls a 35-0 lead.

RMU had 151 yards of offense and went 2 of 11 on third-down conversions. The defense allowed Kennesaw State to average 6.9 yards per play and 377 yards of total offense. An explosive KSU defense brought RMU down nine times in the backfield and registered two sacks.

RMU gets right back to it next week with a game against another winless team in Charleston Southern on Saturday.

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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