Robert Morris defeats Bryant on outstanding defensive effort

Paul Jones (2) and Duane Mitchell (7) connected for three touchdowns vs. Bryant

Amy Shubilla

Paul Jones (2) and Duane Mitchell (7) connected for three touchdowns vs. Bryant

The Robert Morris football program has not beaten Bryant since the series began six years ago. In the last five meetings, the Colonials had been on the losing end every time, due to inconsistency and a bit of bad luck.  

However today, the outcome was a little different.

On a muggy Saturday afternoon at Joe Walton Stadium, Robert Morris defeated their NEC foe 24-3, relying on outstanding performances from both sides of the ball to give them the win. The RMU defense was the highlight of the afternoon, forcing four Bryant turnovers while shutting down the leading receiver in the history of the NEC in Jordan Harris.

“I think they’re maturing and learning how to play together. The gameplans have been pretty damn good by Scott Farison [defensive coordinator],” said head coach Joe Walton after the win. “You put them all together and they’re playing well.”

Junior cornerback Antwan Eddie notched two interceptions on the day while blanketing Harris, who was held to just two catches for 22 yards.

“I thought he did outstanding,” said Walton.  “He’s been playing well all year, not only a great defensive back but as a great punt returner, so he’s helped us in that aspect as well.”

The three-time NEC special teams player of the week proved that his talents stretch far beyond his punt return duties, as he easily played his best defensive game in a Colonials uniform.

“I mean, coming into this game, I knew Harris was the number one receiver, and I told coach I wanted him all game. He just gave me a chance,” said Eddie. “Right now, the defense is at our strongest and we can only get stronger. The conference might be in trouble.”

Redshirt senior safety Eric Lowry led the way with 11 tackles, while fellow senior safety D.J. Meyers posted 10 stops. The RMU defense combined for five sacks on the day, with defensive linemen R.J. Cook, Chris Thompkins, Forrest Mason, and A.J. Holderman all getting in on the fun.  

“I think they’re [defensive line] running their stunts better, and they’re doing a lot of things that you coach and coach and coach,” explained Walton. “All of a sudden, they seem to get it and everything comes together. They’re playing with a lot of enthusiasm, which is another thing that was important in this game.”

The defense did what was expected of them, but the bright spot in the win had to be the improvement on the other side of the ball.

Quarterback Paul Jones completed seven of 14 passes for 120 yards, and connected with junior wide out Duane Mitchell for three touchdowns on the afternoon. Jones also rushed 12 times for 86 yards, and played especially well after missing last week’s game with a concussion.

“Especially with a concussion, your body can feel good but your brain will tell you nothing,” said Jones. “I didn’t feel too rusty, but at the same time I think I overthought a couple times, so I’m going to go back and watch the film and fix everything.”

Mitchell’s production has exploded within the last two games after starting out the season in a bit of a slump. Against Wagner and Bryant, he’s combined for 11 catches, 233 yards and four scores. He explained what has clicked as of late to help his game get back on track.

“In the beginning of the season, I overthought stuff, thinking I had to make the play instead of catching the ball,” said Mitchell. “Now, I’m just having fun. We’re winning. I’m doing what I do best in catching the ball and trying to make yards after the catch.”

Robert Morris moves into a tie for first place with the win, and keeps their hopes at an NEC title alive and well. Now on a two-game winning streak, the team’s momentum is continuing to build as their confidence grows simultaneously.

“It’s nice to win this game, that’s for sure,” said Walton. “It still puts us in position where we still have a shot.”

Next on the docket for Robert Morris is an away matchup with Central Connecticut State, before finishing out the season against Sacred Heart and St. Francis.