The Robert Morris football team played their toughest opponent of the season on Saturday as they fell to No. 12 Kennesaw State 45-21. It was a rough day for Robert Morris, who had chances earlier in the game but fumbled away two promising drives. The Robert Morris defense also struggled to stop the Kennesaw State offense, as Kennesaw State scored on seven of their 12 drives, including four in a row in the second half to pull away.
The first two drives started strong for Robert Morris, but ended with key fumbles. The first drive, Robert Morris went 35 yards on five plays. The first fumble happened on the Kennesaw State 44 when — Reddick smacked the ball out of George Martin’s hand when Martin was dropping back for a pass. The ball bounced a few yards down the field before Reddick recovered it. The play was reviewed as it appeared that Martin may have been in throwing motion and, therefore, an incomplete pass but the call stood.
The second one was more costly for Robert Morris though as it happened when they had a strong chance to tie things up. They started this drive at their own 20, but moved down the field to the Kennesaw State five-yard line on just seven plays. Martin attempted to sneak into the end zone after a passing play fell apart, but had the ball smacked out of his hand again by Reddick. After both turnovers, Kennesaw State scored a touchdown. This set the tone for the entire game, as it very well could’ve been a 28 point swing with the way that Robert Morris was looking offensively on both drives.
“Anytime there’s a turnover, you got to put it behind you, instead of thinking about it or anything,” said Martin. “So once we got that behind us, we were able to gain yards on offense, go down, finish some drives. It was unfortunate for those fumbles but at least we were able to get past them.”
After punts from both teams, Robert Morris was able to bring the game back within one score after an eight play, 75-yard drive capped off with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Martin to Jaylon Brown. Again, Robert Morris had no issue moving the ball down the field on the drive. Only one of the seven plays didn’t net positive yardage, and five of them went for, at least, five yards. It looked as though Robert Morris would be able to put up points against a tough Kennesaw State defense.
However, this was the closest the game would come. Kennesaw State followed this up with a touchdown to make it 21-7going into halftime. This touchdown drive started a 21-0 run for Kennesaw that made the game 35-7 with approximately three minutes left in the third quarter. The game was well out of reach for Robert Morris when they scored their second touchdown of the game, a two-yard run by Alijah Jackson, with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Immediately following that drive, Kennesaw State used a big kick return (53 yards) and a big touchdown pass (42 yards) to score with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“They’re the most disciplined team,” said Robert Morris head coach Bernard Clark. “They get after, they do a great job at playing hard, that’s what they’re able to do. They take advantage of your mistakes.”
The final score was 45-21 in a lopsided victory by Kennesaw State, led by a 21-point third quarter. Quarterback Xavier Shepard only threw 12 passes in the game, but completed eight of them for 185 yards and four touchdowns. He had a QBR of 306.2. Rushing wise, Kennesaw State had no rusher with more than 44 yards individually, but the team had a total of 197 rushing yards on 45 carries.
Looking at the numbers, it’d appear that Robert Morris didn’t have that bad of a game offensively. Martin had 295 passing yards and completed 71.4% of his passes along with two touchdowns. Rushing wise, Jackson had one of his better games of the season when he ran for 91 yards on 20 carries. However, those two costly turnovers to start the game were the difference-maker in this one.
“It’s like I always say, 24 hours to be pissed off, 24 hours to be happy,” said Clark on the mindset of following a game like today. “Let’s get over this, let’s watch the film, see what’s going on. We got two games left, so we got to focus on that and make sure we’re focusing on that.”
Robert Morris has two games left in the 2021 fall season. They will travel to New Jersey next week to play Monmouth before returning home to play Campbell on November 20th to end the season.