Early lead wasted by Red Flash
LORETTO — Saint Francis let one slip away Saturday.
The Red Flash led Robert Morris for most of the game, but couldn’t hold a seven-point lead twice in the second half. Saint Francis then missed a short field goal at the end of the first overtime that would have won the game.
In the second overtime, Nick Bisceglia kicked a 37-yard field goal to give Robert Morris a 20-17 win.
As the Colonials mobbed Bisceglia, most of the 1,370 fans in attendance quietly filed out of the stadium.
“This is your home turf, and you have to be able to play at a high level. We’ve had two teams now come in here and beat us,” SFU coach Chris Villarrial said. “It’s only going to get worse if we keep letting this happen.”
Robert Morris improved to 2-4 on the season, 1-0 in Northeast Conference play. Saint Francis fell to 3-3, 1-1 in the NEC.
Trailing 10-3 early in the third quarter, Robert Morris switched quarterbacks, replacing George Martin with Caleb Lewis. The graduated transfer immediately sparked the Colonials offense, engineering a nine-play, 90-yard drive to tie the game.
Lewis got the drive started with a 19-yard completion to tight end Matt Gonzalez on third-and-10, then connected with Tim Vecchio for 36 more yards. Lewis finished the drive with a 32-yard TD pass to Vecchio on fourth-and-10.
Lewis completed just 9-of-22 passes, but the nine completions went for 152 yards. They also came primarily on third and fourth down to keep drives alive.
“(Lewis) came in and did a heck of a job, but ultimately it’s up to us. We have to play better,” senior safety Nick Rinella said. “I think we let up a little there in the second half, and you can’t do that.”
The Red Flash went back up seven midway through the fourth quarter. On back-to-back plays, Kahtero Summers had a 53-yard catch and run on 3rd-and-12, and Chris Wells scored on a 14-yard run.
The SFU defense forced a punt on the Colonials’ ensuing possession, but the Red Flash offense managed just three yards, punting the ball back to Robert Morris with 1:57 left in the game.
After converting a 4th-and-6, the Colonials faced a 4th-and-10 near midfield. Lewis completed a 19-yard pass to Delano Madison, and Rinella was called for a facemask trying to break up the pass, putting Robert Morris at the SFU 23.
“I don’t think I did,” Rinella said when asked about the penalty. “I don’t think it was tied up enough, but that’s the way the call went. Gotta’ keep playing.”
Christian Massie was flagged for defensive holding on the next play, giving Robert Morris 10 more yards.
Lewis made the Flash pay with a 13-yard TD pass to Gonzalez, tying the game with 45 seconds left to play.
The St. Francis defense did not give up a yard to start the first overtime, forcing a 42-yard attempt. Da’Jon Lee got a hand on the kick, causing it to knuckle and fall short of the uprights.
The Flash took over at the 25 and pounded Chris Wells at the Colonials four times, reaching the 9 to set up a 25-yard FG try.
Trevor Thompson drilled the ball, but it sailed wide left past the goal posts.
“We had opportunities to make field goals, opportunities to make first downs to keep drives going, opportunities to make interceptions but didn’t do it,” Villarrial said. “You can only make excuses for so long. It comes down to a play here, a play there, and you can’t take any off. We have to learn that.”
St. Francis outgained Robert Morris by 98 yards, but Colonials’ punter George Souders III kept the Flash pinned deep in their own end most of the game.
The freshman kicker put five of his seven punts inside the 20.
Jason Brown completed 27-of-40 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Ra’Shaun Henry grabbed in a game-high nine passes for 87 yards. Wells led the running game with 80 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Lee had a team-high nine tackles, including 2.5 for loss. Rinella finished with seven tackles.
Brian Lee Jr., the team’s second-leading tackler on the season, was ejected in the fourth quarter for targeting when he hit Lewis in the head as he was chasing him out of the pocket. He’s out the first half of next weeks game as well.
“This one hurts, especially being at home. We should have played a lot better than we did, but we can’t dwell on it for too long. We have to move on to next week,” Rinella said.
The team plays at Long Island University Saturday before returning home to take on Sacred Heart the following week.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Robert Morris 0 3 7 7 0 3 –20
St. Francis 3 7 0 7 0 0 –17
SF–FG Thompson 35, 8:51.
SF–Jenkins 2 pass from Brown (Thompson kick), 7:02.
RMU–FG Bisceglia 38, 1:23.
RMU–Vecchio 32 pass from Lewis (Bisceglia kick), 1:03.
SF–Wells 14 run (Thompson kick), 5:34.
RMU–Gonzalez 13 pass from Lewis (Bisceglia kick), 0:45.
RMU–FG Bisceglia 37, 0:00.
TEAM STATISTICS RMU SFPA
First downs 19 20
Rushes-yards 35-115 39-156
Passing 211 268
Comp-Att-Int 15-40-1 27-41-1
Return Yards 82 77
Punts-Avg. 7-38.9 6-39.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Penalty-Yards 7-65 8-75
Time of Possession 25:11 34:49
RUSHING–Robert Morris, A. Jackson 26-110, T. Stephens Jr. 1-6, G. Martin 6-3, M. Gonzalez 1-3, C. Lewis 1-(minus 7). St. Francis, C. Wells 19-80, D. Wiley 11-49, J. Brown 5-7, Z. Campbell 1-7, K. Summers 1-7, K. Williams 1-7, B. Lisenby 1-(minus 1).
PASSING–Robert Morris, C. Lewis 9-22-0-152, G. Martin 6-18-1-59. St. Francis, J. Brown 27-40-1-268, E. Jenkins 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING–Robert Morris, T. Vecchio 6-94, M. Gonzalez 4-46, D. Madison 2-29, D. White 2-24, A. Jackson 1-18. St. Francis, R. Henry 9-87, K. Summers 5-79, B. Lisenby 4-28, C. Wells 1-25, Z. Campbell 1-18, T. Johnson 2-12, E. Jenkins 2-11, D. Wiley 2-9, K. Williams 1-(minus 1).