Pittsburgh -- A 12-yard touchdown run by senior running back Myles Russ (Boca Raton, Fla. / West Boca) with just 22 seconds to play helped lift the Robert Morris University football team to an upset of No. 14/15 Liberty, 30-23, Saturday afternoon at Joe Walton Stadium. The victory improves the Colonials to 2-1 overall on the 2010 campaign, while the Flames dipped to 2-1.
A 29-yard field goal by Liberty's Matt Bevins with 1:19 remaining in regulation tied the game, 23-23, but RMU used a six-play, 80-yard drive that lasted just 57 seconds for the decisive touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Sinclair (Natrona Heights, Pa. / Highlands) finished 4-for-5 passing during the game-winning drive, hitting junior tight end Shadrae King (McKeesport, Pa. / McKeesport) three times and hooking up with senior wide receiver T.J. Green (Stamford, Conn. / Milford Academy) for a crucial 32-yard completion that moved the ball to the 12-yard line of the Flames. Two plays later Russ found a wide open hole up the middle and scored easily to help propel Robert Morris to the win.
Russ scored three touchdowns on the afternoon, finding the end zone on just the third play of the game when he hauled in a pass from Sinclair, broke a tackle and raced 67 yards to the end zone for the touchdown reception and an early 7-0 Colonial lead. The Flames answered on their next possession, marching 60 yards on nine plays before Mike Brown hit Chris Summers for a 24-yard touchdown pass to tie it, 7-7.
The score remained tied until late in the second quarter, when Sinclair found junior wide receiver Jamie Cobb (Casa Grande, Ariz. / Scottsdale Community College) for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:31 left before halftime to push RMU back in front, 14-7. Liberty trimmed its deficit to four at the break, 14-10, when Bevins connected for a 33-yard field goal with just six ticks left on the clock in the second quarter.
The Flames opened the second half with a nine-play, 54-yard drive that was capped by a 28-yard field goal from Bevins to help trim Liberty's deficit to one, 14-13. RMU's next drive stalled, but senior punter Nick Schirtzinger (Hurricane, W.Va. / Hurricane) pinned the Flames at their own two-yard line thanks to a 51-yard punt.
The Robert Morris defense stiffened, holding Liberty to just one rushing yard, and one 3rd-and-10 from their own two-yard line, SirChauncey Holloway was flagged for a holding call with Brown in the end zone. The play resulted in a safety for the Colonials and a 16-13 advantage at the 6:07 mark of the third quarter.
Liberty finally took its first lead of the contest, 20-16, with 13:01 to play when Ervin Garner hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Brown, but the Colonials answered on their next possession to grab the lead right back, 23-20, when Russ scored from four yards out to cap a six-play, 78-yard drive with 10:20 to play.
The only carry for Russ in the final drive proved to be the final score of the afternoon as the senior running back amassed 229 all-purpose yards on the afternoon. He finished with 20 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per rush, and also added two receptions for 76 yards and a score.
Robert Morris iced the win when redshirt senior safety Michael Landers (Springdale, Pa. / Springdale) intercepted Brown in the end zone on the final play of the game.
Sinclair finished 13-for-21 passing for a career-high 271 yards and two touchdowns in the win, while Green caught three passes for 73 yards and King posted three receptions for 36 yards, each of which came in the game-winning drive.
Brown posted 344 yards of total offense for Liberty, completing 24 of his 40 passing attempts for 267 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 16 times for 77 yards. Garner finished with five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, while Summers posted nine receptions for 88 yards and a score.
Senior linebacker Alex DiMichele (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Sto-Rox) posted a game-high 13 tackles, including six solo stops, while Landers added nine takedowns and senior cornerback Rolf Bathold (Naples, Fla. / Lely) eight.
The Colonials are next in action Saturday, Sept. 25, when they return to Northeast Conference play with a Noon kickoff against Wagner on Staten Island, N.Y.