MOON TWP., Pa. — Robert Morris rode a strong defense and passing attack to their first ever Big South Conference win with a 31-24 victory over Charleston Southern at Joe Walton Stadium on Saturday.
Charleston Southern came into the game boasting one of the FCS’s best passing attacks behind quarterback Jack Chambers, but it was RMU’s George Martin who led his team to victory.
To be fair to Chambers, he still put together a good game numbers wise. While his 51.2% completion percentage doesn’t stand out, he did manage to complete 21 passes for 334 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and a pick-six as well, but it was the Robert Morris defense that caused most of the damage. They only sacked him twice, but Chambers was under heavy pressure all game long. This led to a lot of the incompletions.
“Coach Plungas and his defensive staff put a great game plan together at the beginning of the week, because they knew how much of a weapon (Jack Chambers) is,” said Robert Morris head coach Bernard Clark.
Defensively, Robert Morris only gave up 32 rushing yards in the game and held Charleston Southern to a 1.2 yards per carry average. Furthermore, Charleston Southern went for it on 4th down five times but only converted once. Robert Morris’s defense also held Charleston Southern to just 2 third down conversions out of 14 attempts.
The key defensive play in the game came towards the end when Lorenzo Euline intercepted Chambers for a 50-yard pick-six. The interception made the score 31-21 and sealed the victory for Robert Morris. Up and until that point that game had been back-and-forth with the lead changing several times.
“(Cayden Jordan) ran a slant and our linebacker knocked him off his route,” Euline said. “When he got knocked off his route, the quarterback threw the ball where it was supposed to go but instead he threw it to me. We prepared all week in practice to play the scramble. When he was scrambling, we just stayed on his receivers. Since we were on the receivers, it gave our defensive line time to put pressure on the quarterback.”
The rushing game struggled for both teams though as Alijah Jackson only got 29 yards on 20 carries, a 0.6 average. It was a tough game for Jackson, as it seemed like he had very few running lanes to hit. The team actually got less rushing yards on the game, mainly due to sacks counting as runs. But they only managed to get 21 yards rushing on the day.
It’s a bad trend as Robert Morris struggled in the run game last week against North Carolina A&T. In that game, Robert Morris only got 54 yards rushing but 44 of those came on three carries from Jonathan Wynn. Jackson had 18 yards rushing in that game on 15 carries, a 1.2 yard per carry average.
“We just got to continue to do it,” said Clark on the rushing attack. “It’s a situation were we want to continue to run the ball. We got to make some adjustments here and there with our o-line, with our quarterback, with our running back and see if we can get a little more out of him. It’s just some adjustments we have to make.”
The passing attack didn’t struggle for Robert Morris though and, in fact, thrived against Charleston Southern. Martin threw for 292 yards with a 68.3% completion percentage. He also threw for two touchdowns and found seven different receivers with four getting over four catches.
He did have an interception, granted it wasn’t his fault as his target dropped the pass which then landed in the hands of a Charleston Southern defender.
“You get a fifth-year senior who’s been in this offense for four years now, he knows the clicks, he knows what we’re looking for and how we want to go about doing things. He’s finding the open guy. He’s doing a great job orchestrating it downfield,” said Clark.
Of course, it’s impossible to mention the passing attack without also mentioning the weapons that Martin has found himself surrounded with this year. The two that stood out today were James Westry and De’Andre Hicks. Hicks has been great all year and continued his strong season with nine catches for 79 yards and a touchdown while Westry had a coming-out party today.
Westry was key in the deep game as he had five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 19.6 yards per catch with the longest of the day being a 35-yard reception.
“I love those guys,” said Martin. “They’re people you look for when you’re on the field, someone you want to throw to. Because you know that they’re going to beat their man one-on-one. You know they’re going to catch the ball and gain yards after the catch.”
Robert Morris will be on the road the next two weeks against North Alabama and Gardner-Webb. Their next home game will be on Halloween-eve October 30th at noon against Hampton.