Robert Morris Finishes Season Winless for First Time in Program History

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(left to right) Ethan Frenchik, Rico Watson and Sydney Audiger celebrate a big play on defense in the Senior Day loss to Bryant Photo credit: Alec Miller

By Aiden Dine

MOON TOWNSHIP– Lack of discipline continued to be an issue for Robert Morris (0-11, 0-5 Big South), with turnovers and penalties often hurting RMU’s chances in the team’s 35-6 loss to Bryant on Saturday to finish the season winless for the first time in program history.

Before the game, head coach Bernard Clark’s message to the team was to iron out the mistakes and play consistent team football, but unfortunately, that did not happen.

The game started out with several back-and-forth punts until early in the second quarter when Bryant quarterback Zevi Eckhaus threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Landon Ruggieri. This would be the junior receiver’s first of three touchdown catches he had on the day.

Soon after, Zach Tanner threw his first of two interceptions to Ryan Saddler, which set Bryant up for another Eckhaus to Ruggieri touchdown, which turned out to be the last score before the half making it 14-0 at halftime.

The Colonial’s defense has been a bright spot at times, making big plays and today was no different with the team coming up with three forced turnovers today, including an interception by Ethan Frenchik to open up the second half on Bryant’s first drive of the second half.

Unfortunately, RMU couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, which was a theme for the day and instead failed to convert a 4th down inside Bryant’s 10-yard line. Bryant drove all the way down the field to score another touchdown after this making it hurt even more for the Colonials.

The team on the sidelines in the 35-6 loss to Bryant (Photo by Alec Miller)

After a three-and-out from RMU’s offense, the defense allowed a 61-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive completing an awful sequence of events for RMU that would have been hard for any team to dig themselves out of.

Following the score on the kickoff coming out, both teams got into an ugly fight that resulted in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which were handed out in bunches on Saturday. Multiple players were ejected later in the game for being assessed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

The Colonial offense was finally able to put something together to start the fourth quarter and had a touchdown drive capped off with a 40-yard touchdown from Zach Tanner to Demonte Martin. RMU went for two and was unsuccessful, though, as the score remained 28-6.

However, on the drive afterward, Bryant would respond with a passing touchdown of their own. It was the last of four Zevi Eckhaus touchdown passes and it went to their star of the day Landon Ruggieri. He has given teams fits all year with his now 986 yards on the season after today’s game.

This turned out to be the last score of the game. RMU had 12 penalties on the day, which clearly hurt them, with several coming on third downs defensively or on other key plays.

The defense came up huge to make some plays that, if the game were closer, would have been huge, including interceptions by Sydney Audiger, Rico Watson, and Ethan Frenchik.

The blowout loss is also tough for the many seniors who played their last game as a Colonial on Saturday.

“It’s very emotional.” Sydney Audiger said. “I’ve been with this team for three years and just realizing it’s my last game is really emotional. I wish I could play more games with these guys and be able to give it my all again.”

Audiger has played really well for RMU this season at cornerback and is one of the team’s standout players with 62 tackles, two interceptions, six pass defenses and two forced fumbles.

This season did not go how the Colonials would have liked and the team will definitely have to change their approach next season. Coach Clark emphasized after the game finding ways to maximize performance by finding what people are good at and putting them in situations to succeed.

This offseason will be key for the coaches and staff to find what they can do next year to improve the team.