Dayton ‘flys’ just out of Robert Morris’ grasp in the season opener


Robert Morris Wide receiver Parker Fetterman (left) extends into the endzone as Dayton’s Matt Lenti tries to make a play in Dayton’s 22-20 win over Robert Morris on Saturday Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

Casey Erlewein

MOON TOWNSHIP — In a matchup canceled last year, the Robert Morris Colonials opened their season in front of a sold-out crowd at Joe Walton Stadium with out-of-conference rival Dayton Flyers but came up just short, losing 22-20.

In a game that was expected to be close, that’s exactly how it ended up being.

In his first career collegiate start, Anthony Chiccitt looked to get the offense going but couldn’t get them anywhere in their first drive.

Dayton looked to capitalize on the flag. However, a solid tackle by senior Matthew Larks forced a fourth down field goal. The kick by Sam Webster was good, and Dayton took a 3-0 lead with 4:17 left in the first quarter.

RMU looked to answer back quickly with a quick ten-yard catch by Jake Kupchella. Casciola promptly completed a 35-yard pass to the 50 and rushed for 22 yards in the next play, bringing the Flyers almost instantly to the Colonial 29-yard line.

Dayton started the second quarter with a short pass to make 3rd and 3. However, a fumbled snap stopped them in their tracks. Webster had another solid kick to put Dayton up 6-0 with 14:08 left in the second quarter.

Later in the quarter, the Colonials started at their own 38, their best field position so far. After a few big plays, a scramble by Chiccitt put RMU with 3rd and goal at the two-yard line. An excellent reverse by Parker Fetterman put RMU into the end zone for the first time of the season, followed by the extra point put RMU up for the first time at 7-6 with 7:43 left in the half. A great eight-play drive taking 3:46 got RMU’s first points on the board.

On the next series, junior defensive Dakarai Cabell jumped the route on third down and intercepted Dow’s pass, the first of the season for him and RMU.

Chiccitt completed a big pass to cross midfield quickly. A few big plays had the Colonials inside the 10-yard line, showing Clark’s no-huddle style offense he has been preaching.

Chiccitt had Devon Mondy making a perfect leaping grab to give RMU another touchdown. RMU went up 14-6 with a six-play drive for 67 yards, taking 1:36 off the clock.

After that, nothing was going for either team, and RMU went into halftime with a 14-6 lead.

The third quarter was going slow, but eventually, Dayton was in field goal range. The 42-yard kick was good, putting the Flyers closer with a score of 14-9 with 4:37 left in the third quarter.

RMU went three and out, giving Dayton the ball back. The Flyers went under center for the first time, and Luke Brenner had no one to contain him and went 63 yards to score on the first play. The two-point conversion was no good, as Dayton took the lead 15-14 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.

When asked what happened on that touchdown, Clark marked it as a poor discipline.

“The biggest thing that we played without today was discipline,” he said. “What allowed that to happen was that we had a wrong run fit. Somebody should have fit inside; somebody should have fit outside. Both guys fit outside today.”

RMU looked to respond, but Chiccitt’s third and long pass was intercepted and returned to his two-yard line.

The RMU defense was able to bring up 4th down, but Casciola was able to get into the end zone with some help. Webster made it 22-14 Dayton with 1:10 left in the third.

Jake Simmons came in under center for RMU and completed a nice pass over the middle to start the fourth quarter, and the yards after catch brought RMU across midfield. Fetterman dropped a fourth-down pass, and Dayton got the ball back on downs.

Dropped passes were a recurring theme for the Colonials today, which Clark connects back to discipline and fundamentals.

“The discipline of looking the ball in and making sure, looking from catch to tuck, and ensuring we’re doing the little things right. We didn’t do the little things, so we didn’t win the football game.”

RMU quickly got the ball back. Simmons completed a 24-yard pass to Jones to give Robert Morris a first and goal at the one-yard line. Anthony Purge took it right up the middle to get the touchdown for RMU. The 2-point conversion was no good, leaving the Colonials still trailing 22-20 with 5:14 left in the game.

The Colonials had 2:10 seconds to work with as they started on their 40-yard line for their final drive. They didn’t get too far and gave the ball back to Dayton.

RMU made a stop on 3rd down, but a personal foul on Gregory Young sealed the game for Dayton.

Clark spoke on late fouls and the dropped passes towards the end of the game.

“We were undisciplined. [Dayton] is one of the most disciplined and fundamental-based teams that we ever played. They do their fundamentals right, they do their discipline right, and they do what they’re supposed to do. We didn’t do that today.”

The Colonials will travel to Oxford, Ohio, next week in search of their first win of the season against Miami (OH).

“Going into Miami, Ohio next week, now we gotta be resilient.” Clark said, “We gotta see if we can come back and bounce back from this adversity we just had, to go against a team that’s a tougher team than we are and have more scholarships than we are. But we gotta be resilient and go into that game and play hard.”

The Colonials will attempt to avoid a similar result from their previous FBS matchup, a 45-0 loss to Central Michigan last September.