Arlington Heights, Ill. – The Robert Morris Football team defeated Trinity International University 31-28 in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd for “Pack the Place” night on Saturday, September 29th. The victory raises the Eagles record to 5-1 on the season.
Trinity International drew first blood as they methodically drove down the field in 14 plays covering 75 yards in six minutes on their opening possession, capping off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Steve Anderson to Nigel Pinson. The Trojans were unsuccessful on the PAT and led 6-0 with 9:00 to play in the first quarter.
The Eagles cut the TIU lead in half with 8:42 to go in the first half on a Trae Berndt 15-yard field goal and took a 10-6 lead on a Lamont Wims’ 1-yard touchdown plunge with 2:50 left in the half. The Trojans answered right back on the next possession marching 75 yards in 1:34 with Anderson once again connecting with Pinson on a 14-yard touchdown toss to give them a 13-10 half-time lead.
The Trojans increased their lead to 16-10 with a 34-yard David Feng field goal with 4:07 to play in the third quarter for the only score in the period. However, the Eagles ended the quarter with 50-yard, 10 play drive that culminated with a 5-yard TD pass from Matt Westerkamp to Lamont Wims to open the fourth quarter and give RMU a 17-16 lead after Trae Berndt’s extra point.
Once again the Trojans came right back on their next possession and back-up quarterback Ruben Pena, who replaced injured starter Steve Anderson, connected with Danny Beals on a 17-yard TD pass to regain the lead. TIU went for the two-point conversion but the Eagles defense forced an incompletion on the play and the Trojans led 22-17 with 11:09 to play.
On the Eagles first play after a Dontrel Chance 47-yard kick-off return, star running back Lamont Wims broke free on a 43-yard scoring run for his third touchdown of the day to put the Eagles up 24-22 with a Berndt PAT.
The Eagles defense held strong on the next TIU possession to force a punting situation for the Trojans. However, the Trojans ran a fake punt but RMU special teams were up to the challenge as they stopped TIU short at the RMU 42-yard line to gain the ball on downs. Four plays later, Lamont Wims scored his fourth touchdown of the day on a 5-yard run and Berndt connected on the extra point to put the Eagles up 31-22 with 6:58 to go making it a two possession game.
However, Trinity International responded with a seven play, 80-yard touchdown drive in just 58 seconds to cut the RMU lead to 31-28. Quarterback Ruben Pena hit Steve Lockhart on 30-yard reception for the score. TIU forced the Eagles to punt on the next possession and received the ball at their own 40-yard line with 3:03 to play.
Things got interesting as the Trojans completed three straight passes to move all the way down to the Eagle 10-yard line. With the game on the line, the RMU defense stepped up big dropping Chris Elliott for a two-yard loss, forcing a Pena incompletion, and Mark Tabaka sacked Pena for a 15-yard loss to force fourth and goal. TIU attempted a 44-yard field goal to tie the game but David Feng’s attempt was short and wide and the Eagles offense ran out the clock for the victory.
Lamont Wims, the leading rusher in the NAIA, led the Eagles by scoring all four touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving) while rushing for 226 yards and had 56 yards receiving. Quarterback Matt Westerkamp was 19-30 and threw for 180 yards, once touchdown, and no interceptions.
Doug Sachtleban led the defense with 10 tackles while Dominiqe Sashington had nine tackles and Jordan Tuia made eight tackles and one sack. Mark Tabaka and Austin Epple also had sacks in the game.
The Eagles continue their home stand on Saturday, October 6th as they host Concordia University (Mich.) at Morris Field in Arlington Heights. Kick-off is set for 1:00 P.M. and the game can be watched live on the Eagles Sports Network.