|Robert Morris (6-1)||0||14||0||7||3||24|
|Taylor University (4-3)||7||7||7||0||6||27|
|Robert Morris||Indv. Leaders||Taylor University|
|#2 Korey Rogers - 114||Rushing||#11 Michael Miller - 93|
|#3 Matt Westerkamp - 204||Passing||#15 Jonathan Keith - 233|
|#7 Deshawn Weaver - 105||Receiving||#17 Shawn Lashbrook - 147|
|Robert Morris||Team Statistics||Taylor University|
Video Highlights I Photo Gallery
UPLAND, Ind. – On a day of celebration for the three-peat teams of 1962 through 1964, Taylor claimed sole possession of first place in the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League with a 27-24 overtime win over No. 8 Robert Morris.
The Homecoming victory gave Taylor a win over its highest-ranked opponent since toppling No. 8 Walsh nearly 15 years ago to the date. TU's 33-21 win on October 16, 1999 over the Cavaliers helped propel the Trojans to an eventual MSFA Championship that year.
Saturday's victory moved Taylor to 4-1 on the season against non-NCAA Division I opponents and was its second over a team ranked inside the NAIA's Top-20, while also pushing the Trojans to the top of the MSFA Mideast League standings as the only remaining unbeaten team in league play.
It took a game-saving play from the Taylor defense to preserve the upset win, as Jay Johnson punched the ball loose and Dan McKenna recovered it on the three-yard line with less than one minute to play to give the Trojans new life in the overtime session.
The defense came up with another stop to open overtime, holding Robert Morris to a 41-yard field goal that gave the Eagles their first lead of the contest at 24-21.
The Taylor offense finished what it started over three hours earlier, with Michael Miller starting TU's overtime possession with a 14-yard connection to Robby Robbins. Miller than ran four yards to the RMU seven, before hitting a diving Hans Lundberg in the end zone to seal the 27-24 victory in thrilling fashion.
Early into Saturday's contest it did not appear that any heroics would be needed, as the Trojans opened the game by racking up 173 total yards of offense in the first quarter, while holding the Eagle attack to just seven yards on six snaps.
Jonathan Keith spurred TU's first scoring drive of the afternoon by completing five-of-seven passes, including a 42-yard catch and run over the middle with Williams to the RMU two-yard line. Williams then punched it in from one yard out for the 7-0 edge.
The lead doubled to 14-0 in the opening moments of the second quarter, as the Trojan offense continued to move the ball at will against the No. 2-rated defensive unit of Robert Morris. Miller again found the end zone with his legs, sprinting 17 yards to the end zone on a keeper and the two touchdown lead with 13:25 to play in the opening half.
A third-straight three-and-out by the Eagle offense gave the ball back to Taylor, with the Trojans poised to put the game away after piling up as many first downs (13) as RMU had managed yards of offense to open the game.
Momentum shifted quickly however, as TU went for another first down on a fourth-and-two from the Robert Morris 43 and the ensuing pass was intercepted and returned to the RMU 46. The Eagles hit for a 54-yard scoring strike on the very next play to cut the lead in half and scored again on their next possession by marching 93 yards on 12 plays to send the teams to the half even at 14-14.
Sloppy special teams play allowed Taylor to reclaim the lead deep into the third quarter, as RMU's third failed fourth down of the quarter and second-straight fumbled snap on a punt attempt turned the ball over to the Purple and Gold on RMU's own 10-yard line.
Taylor wasted no time capitalizing on the mistake, running a reverse option that Robbins took untouched around the left corner for a 10-yard score and the 21-14 lead with 2:15 to play in the third.
Robert Morris would return the favor early in the fourth, hauling in the fourth interception of the contest for the Eagle defense and using five plays to cover the 17 yards needed for the game-tying score with 11:25 left.
The teams would continue to struggle to protect the ball in the steady drizzle falling on the New Stadium turf and a mishandled snap on a 48-yard field goal attempt by Wynn Coggin set the RMU offense up on its own 49 with under three minutes remaining.
That set the stage for the apparent game-winning drive for the Eagles, as they moved the chains before completing a 33-yard pass to the Taylor three-yard line with 63 seconds to go. Johnson preserved the game for the Trojans with consecutive stops, with the game-saving forced fumble on the second rush that allowed TU to take the win in overtime.
Miller ended the afternoon with a career-high 93 yards rushing and two scores on the ground to with three receptions for 52 yards, while also picking up 79 yards and the game-winning score through the air.
Keith also played well at quarterback, completing 20-of-26 passes for 233 yards, while Shawn Lashbrook picked up where he left off last week by catching a career-high 13 passes for 147 yards.
Adam Sauder paced the Trojan defenders with a game-high 12 tackles to go with one sack and 2.5 hits for lost yardage. Nathaniel Ryan also registered one sack and ended with nine stops, while Johnson had a career-high eight tackles and the game-saving forced fumble. Tyler Mills also chipped in with several key plays in the second half, ending with three pass breakups and one hit for lost yardage among four tackles.
TU put up 418 total yards of offense on 94 plays against the Robert Morris defense that had held teams to 13.8 points and 261.8 yards per game in its six victories entering play on Saturday. The Taylor defense countered by limiting RMU to 292 yards over 62 plays and five-of-18 on third and fourth-down conversions.
Taylor (4-3, 2-0 MSFA) has now won three of its last four games against ranked NAIA opponents and will look to match its longest single-season win streak since 2010, when it heads north on October 25 to take on Siena Heights (3-3, 2-1 MSFA) in a 1:00 pm start.