Preview: Football looks to rebound against D-II Central State


David Auth

Robert Morris runs on the field before taking on Duquesne.

Nick Hedderick, Contributor

The Robert Morris football team (1-5, 0-3) will return to Joe Walton Stadium this weekend to host the Central State Marauders (3-4, 1-3). Central State is a Division-II program, the second one Robert Morris will host this season. The Colonials last game against a Division-II program was a thrilling victory over Virginia State. Since then, RMU has dropped four straight games.

Last week, they fell to rival Duquesne by a final of 48-24. This loss kept them without any wins in the NEC, something they will try to change next week when they resume conference play. Central State is coming off a 44-38 win over North Carolina-Pembroke. This stopped a two-game slide for the Marauders. The Colonials will be looking to end their four-game losing streak, now let’s take a look at both teams.

A Look at the Colonials

Robert Morris will enter this week looking to secure their second win of the season. Playing a Division-II school at home is a great opportunity for the Colonials to get back into the win column and build some momentum heading into their next two conference games. Last week, the Colonials failed to knock off rival Duquesne yet again. Once again, this game saw the offense hold their own, however, the defense struggled yet again.

Duquesne gained over 500 yards of offense, including 321 rushing yards. The Colonials remain in last in total defense as they allow an average of 552.2 yards per game, and allow around 49 points per game. This week is a good opportunity for the defense to get back in the swing of things as Central State averages on 19 points per game. Their quarterback, Trent Mays, has also thrown 10 interceptions this season. RMU should look to have a big game and force some turnovers this week.

As for the offense, they rank 4th in the NEC in total offense as they rake in around 374 yards per game. They also score 27 points per game as well. Their rushing offense has soared up the NEC rankings and they currently sit in 3rd with 153.3 yards per game on the ground. This is due to Alijah Jackson and Terence Stephens. Each running back is highly capable of breaking out a big run, and Jackson was NEC Rookie of the Week in back to back weeks earlier this season. Stephens shined against Duquesne as he gained 112 yards. He also had over 100 yards receiving.

Matthew Gonzalez also brought in over 100 receiving yards while adding two touchdowns. Quarterback Jimmy Walker tossed three touchdowns but was also picked off twice in the loss to the Dukes.

The offense will look to pick apart the Central State defense this week. RMU’s defense will also look to rebound and stop the Marauders offense from getting into the end zone. The home crowd will be hungry for a Colonial victory and will help motivate the team as well.

Previewing Central State

Central State enters their game with the Colonials one game below .500 at 3-4. Their last game saw the Marauders go down to the wire with North Carolina-Pembroke (1-4). The teams traded touchdowns all game before Terraris Saffold ran in for his 3rd touchdown of the game to secure the 44-38 victory. Their offense really clicked during this game, as CSU scored the most points of their season.

This win snapped two-game losing streak for the Marauders. They had dropped games to Benedict College and Miles College leading up to their victory last week. The Marauders offense usually struggles to say the least. They average around 303 yards per game. Their passing offense averages 178 yards, and the rushing offense nets around 124 yards. CSU has 17 turnovers on the season, with seven of those being lost fumbles and 10 being interceptions.

They will be riding a wave of momentum, however, as quarterback Trent Mays threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns in their last game. He also threw no interceptions and added a touchdown and 73 yards on the ground. Receiver Kevin Greenhow caught two touchdown passes and had 152 yards receiving. It was a very good day for the Marauders offense, and they will definitely have a lot of confidence when they travel to RMU this weekend.

The CSU defense allows around 24 points per game. They have struggled in some games though, giving up 35+ points in three of their outings thus far. Despite this, they have held their opponents under 20 points three times as well. They give up an average of just under 123 yards per game on the ground and 191 passing yards per game. It will be interesting to see which side of the Marauders defense shows up this week.

Players to Watch

Terence Stephens/Alijah Jackson, Running Backs, RMU

It has become a guessing game as to which RMU running back will perform better each week. Jackson really seemed to be hitting his stride as of late, but against Duquesne, he took a lesser role as Stephens shined. This week, see if both backs are utilized or if one steals the spotlight.

Jimmy Walker, Quarterback, RMU

The weather is not looking all that good for Saturday, so Walker’s impact on the game is up in the air. He is coming off a two-interception game against Duquesne, and the bad weather might limit how much the ball is thrown during this game. Walker will likely be called upon in crunch time situations, and seeing how he performs will be something to keep an eye on.

Terraris Saffold, Running Back, CSU

Saffold had his second 100+ yard performance of the season last week, and he scored three touchdowns as well. The senior has scored in three straight games after being kept out of the end zone for the team’s first four games. See if he can take advantage of RMU’s struggling rush defense.

Kailen Abrams, LB, CSU

Abrams is perhaps the best player on the CSU defense. He had 11 tackles last game, and his season high is 21. He has a strong presence all over the field and has the ability to make a big impact on this game. His 40 solo tackles prove that he can stop offensive players himself, and his 41 assisted tackles show that he can get involved in every play. Keep an eye on him during this game.


If you like a good rush offense, this might be the game for you. Not only do both teams have great running backs, but the weather will be against the air offense in this game. I see Terence Stephens and Alijah Jackson having big games. My bold prediction is that they will both score, and one of them will score multiple touchdowns. Terraris Saffold will also have a big game due to RMU’s shaky rush defense. Nonetheless, expect RMU to control the game for the most part and get back into the win column.

Final Score: 41-27 RMU