INDIANAPOLIS - The defending NAIA national champion Marian University football team snapped its three-game losing skid with a 21-19 victory over a pesky No. 23-ranked Robert Morris University (Ill.) squad on Saturday afternoon at St.Vincent Health Field.
The Knights moved to 2-3 on the season and 1-0 in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Mideast League play, while RMU dropped to 4-2 overall and 0-1 in MSFA Mideast play.
Two of the MSFA's top running backs had strong days. Junior Tevin Lake
finished the day with 32 carries for 142 yards and a touchdowns, while RMU junior Lamont Wims rushed the ball 28 times for 150 yards and two scores. The 100-yard effort for Lake was the third of the season and the 18th of his career.
Senior quarterback Joey Hecklinski
finished the day 17-of-28 for 293 yards and one touchdowns, while freshman Taylor Summa
finished with three catches for 103 yards and a score.
After RMU punted on its first drive, the Knights were pinned inside their own 15-yard line to open the game, but a 29-yard pass from Hecklinski to sophomore Anthony Jones Jr.
gave MU some breathing room. They were unable to move it from there and, on the subsequent punt attempt, a bad snap sent freshman punter Conner Cope
back to his own five-yard line where he was tackled to give RMU the ball at MU's five. Lamont Wims punched it in to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
The MU offense settled down quickly and junior Tevin Lake
capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge to tie the score at 7-7 with 7:11 remaining in the first.
On its next drive, the MU offense hit quickly with its biggest play of the season. Hecklinski hit Summa with a 64-yard touchdown pass to cap a five-play, 91-yard drive and give MU a 15-7 lead with 3:46 remaining on the first quarter clock. The two-point conversion, a run by sophomore Robert Gibson
, would come in handy later in the ballgame.
Senior Zack Sparks capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 19-yard field goal wit 7:23 remaining in the half and that would end the scoring for the half as MU closed with 18 unanswered points.
MU amassed 269 yards of total offense in the first half, including 219 through the air, while the defense held a potent RMU offense to just 89 offensive yards over the first 30 minutes.
A scoreless third quarter was followed by an RMU touchdown to make it 18-13 with 14:13 remaining in the game. On the ensuing MU drive, Sparks capped a 10-play, 44-yard drive that chewed up 4:16 of the fourth quarter clock with a 45-yard field goal to make it 21-13 with just under 10 minutes to go.
RMU embarked on a marathon drive of 12 plays for 75 yards and used 5:19 of the clock before Wims scored his second touchdown of the day to make it 21-19. The RMU two-point conversion failed and MU clinged to the lead. The Knights were able to run out the remaining 4:25 with a trio of first downs and RMU having used all of its timeouts to snap the losing streak.
The Knights finished with 457 yards of total offense, while RMU finished with 250. MU controlled the ball well in the game as they finished with more than 35 minutes of possession.
Defensively, four Knights had six tackles each. Freshman Eric Price
, sophomore Daniel Rojas
and Shaquille Ash
each had three solo tackles and three assists. Price, sophomore Alex Wetmore and senior Bryan Derence
each had a sack for MU.
The Knights will look to win their second straight when they head to 25th-ranked Siena Heights University, which fell to Saint Francis (Ind.) on Saturday, in Adrian, Mich. Kickoff from O'Laughlin Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will air LIVE on the Knights Football Radio Network beginning at 12:45 p.m.