Offense atrocious in loss to Lafayette

Chris Mueller, Sports Editor

At 0-and-2 on the year, it looked as if Robert Morris had nowhere to go but up heading into its road contest with Lafayette on Saturday. Growing pains were coming; everybody knew that with a young team and a new offensive system.

However, no one knew how bad they would actually hurt.

Robert Morris fell to Lafayette 50-3 at Fisher Stadium in one of the worst performances in program history, managing just 108 yards of total offense.

Quarterback Luke Brumbaugh struggled heavily, finishing 11-of-23 for 60 yards with three first quarter interceptions, two of which were returned for Lafayette touchdowns. He missed on a lot of easy throws, and was stripped on a quarterback option also in the first quarter that Lafayette recovered. The shaky start killed his confidence completely.

“I just wasn’t going through my progressions the way I should have been,” said Brumbaugh. “I made too many quick decisions. I messed up too much early and let it get to me early.”

Brumbaugh was later replaced after the third quarter by Derik Abbott, but the offensive struggles didn’t just fall on him. Freshman tailback Rameses Owens and the Colonial run game were non-existent. Owens left the game late in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and didn’t return, finishing with 17 yards on 11 carries.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” said Brumbaugh. “We can’t have as many three-and-outs as we did. I take account for it 100 percent, but as a whole we’ve got to get better.”

Lafayette seemed to have an answer for everything offensive coordinator Darrin Hicks threw at them. Robert Morris was 0-for-16 on third down conversions, a reflective stat of just how poor the offense looked.

“[Going 0-for-16 is] probably the lowest point in my career in that,” Hicks said. “That many third downs, and not able to convert any of them is completely unacceptable.”

Once again, special teams played the other large factor in the loss.

On Robert Morris’ first two offensive possessions, they started inside their own 10 yard-line due to penalties on the kick return. Then, after the two interceptions were returned for touchdowns, long snapper Zack Zamiska flung a snap over punter Tony Lamancusa’s head and into the back of the endzone for a safety, making it 16-0 midway through the first quarter.

If their momentum wasn’t already shot, the safety pretty much guaranteed it.

“Again, we really haven’t done anything on special teams to help us get to where we need to be,” said Banaszak. “We’ve got to find some answers. Whether it’s instead of playing all the freshman and getting that baptism under fire, maybe it’s time for us to look at veterans on special teams to get the job done.”

For Lafayette, running back Ross Scheuerman led the way with 173 yards rushing on 22 carries.

“I think we got a great push up front and just wore them down,” he said. “I don’t think they wanted to play anymore to be honest.”

The Robert Morris defense hung in there, but couldn’t do much after being forced to work from a 23-0 deficit to start the second quarter. Senior cornerback Antwan Eddie notched two interceptions in the lone bright spot on the night. Senior linebacker Jake Tkach finished with nine stops.

“I think mentally we were on the right page when it came to lining up correctly,” said linebacker Mike Stojkovic. “But then it comes to a point where Coach [Farison] preaches you have to do your job. Whether it’s flying another gap over to make a play, we talk about picket fence defense. We just didn’t have that tonight.”

Robert Morris will look again for the first win of 2014 next weekend as they travel to Dayton for a 1 p.m. kickoff. They lost to the Flyers a year ago 21-14 in Moon.