Football loses first NEC game to Robert Morris

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne’s senior quarterback Brett Brumbaugh throws a pass during Saturday’s game against Robert Morris.
Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne’s senior quarterback Brett Brumbaugh throws a pass during Saturday’s game against Robert Morris.

David Borne | Sports Editor

Nov. 14, 2019

Without starting quarterback Daniel Parr under center due to a broken collarbone, the Duquesne football team dropped a 41-21 result to the Robert Morris Colonials on Saturday in Moon Township.

The loss marked the first in conference play for the Dukes, dropping their overall record to 6-3 on the season.

Saturday was the first time since Nov. 3, 2012 that Robert Morris earned a win over Duquesne.

“We lost the football game,” Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt said. “We were very generous today with the turnovers. It was too much for us to overcome.”

The Colonials took control of Saturday’s contest almost immediately after the opening kick and never took their foot off the gas.

Giveaways hindered Duquesne’s ability to gain offensive traction in the first half, and throughout the game. RMU forced two turnovers in the first quarter, including an interception from redshirt sophomore Jacob White that put the Colonials deep in Duquesne territory.

The Colonials capitalized on the chance with a 3-yard touchdown run, and took an early 7-0 lead.

Things only got worse for the Dukes, as Robert Morris held a commanding 20-0 lead at halftime.

With Brett Brumbaugh making his first collegiate start, Duquesne’s offense struggled to get any sort of rhythm going.

The senior quarterback did connect with Dominic Thieman on a 13-yard touchdown pass to open up the second half, though the deficit Duquesne faced proved to be too much to overcome. Brumbaugh finished the day completing 24 of 50 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns, but his stat line was marred by four interceptions.

“I’ll assess it when I watch the film,” Schmitt said when asked about Brumbaugh’s afternoon. “We lost the football game. He was one of the 95 here that contributed. The most important one was me. I didn’t do a good enough job to put those guys in position to be successful throughout the day. We’ll assess him with the rest of them on the field.”

An inefficient aerial game forced Duquesne to shift its focus to the ground, but the Colonials defense was well prepared.

Knowing the Dukes would rely heavily on the rushing attack, RMU often loaded the box with defenders and made it difficult for Duquesne to get anything going.

Duquesne’s usually dominant backfield tandem of A.J. Hines and Mark Allen was held to a combined 76 yards on the afternoon.

“You have to be able connect throwing the ball when they’re playing a lot of guys in the box to stop the run,” Schmitt said. “Without being able to do that efficiently in the first half at all, it put some stress on our football team, our defense.”

Robert Morris and Central Connecticut State now stand tied at the top of the NEC standings, with both teams at 5-0 in conference play.

Duquesne’s chances for a second-consecutive FCS playoff berth now look slim. In order to secure a postseason spot, the Dukes would need to win both of their remaining games and get help from other teams in the conference.

A second NEC loss would dash any hope for even a share of the conference championship.

If Duquesne were to end the season with wins over Bryant and Central Connecticut, and Robert Morris were to lose its remaining two games, the Dukes could clinch an automatic postseason bid.

Kickoff for Duquesne’s game final road game of the regular season against Bryant this weekend is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Beirne Stadium. Duquesne has not beaten Bryant since the 2016 season, but will need a win on Saturday to keep its postseason chances alive.