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Tristen Jeffries and Michael Berry each catch a touchdown
Football-CH - Sat, Sep. 2, 2017

The 13th ranked Robert Morris Illinois Football team was on the road facing North Central College ranked 7th in NCAA Division III on Saturday September 2nd.   The Eagles furious comeback came up just short falling 33-31.  

North Central College won the coin toss and elected to receive taking the first drive right down the field settling for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. 

On RMU's first drive of the game, Darius Burse (JR/Chicago, Ill.) took the handoff 46 yards down to the NCC 31 yard line.  The Eagles kicker, Trentan Daley (SO/Edwardsville, Ill.), attempted a 34-yard field goal that drifted wide right. 

NCC muffed a punt which was recovered by RMU and put the Eagles in scoring position the NCC 26 yard line.  The offense was unable to get a first down, and turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth down attempt.  Just two plays later the Cardinals' quarterback launched a 78-yard touchdown pass to Breunig to take a 10-0 lead with 1:53 left in the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, Ben Gutke (FR/Anitoch, Ill.) sent a 46-yard punt down the field which was mishandled by the Cardinals and recovered by RMU.  Unfortunately, on second down, Kenyatte Allen (SR/Lithonia, Ga.) was stripped of the ball with a Cardinal defender falling on the ball.  On the ensuing drive, NCC went 42 yards in 11 plays and settled for a 22-yard field goal to take a 13-0 lead with 9:41 to go in the second quarter. 

The Eagles offense was unable to produce a first down and went three and out. NCC's next drive went 44 yards in 7 plays and resulted in a touchdown to take a 19-0 lead with 3:17 left in the half. 

Kenyatte Allen began to find his groove, leading an 11 play 74-yard drive in just 2:39 to put the Eagles on the board with Trentan Daley drilling a 29-yard field goal.  RMU went into halftime trailing 19-3. 

The second half began much like the first, RMU went three and out, and NCC scored in just 4 plays to take a 26-3 lead with 12:11 to go in the third quarter. 

The Eagles were looking for a spark and found it in the form of EJ Rueck (SO/Alsip, Ill.) returning the kickoff 30 yards out to the 39 yard line.  The offense was able to make the necessary adjustments, going 61 yards in 12 plays, and finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Darius Burse to cut the lead to 26-10 with 6:36 to go in the third quarter.

RMU defense came up with a stop forcing a Cardinal punt.  NCC high snap over the punters head bounced all the way down to the NCC 4 yard line before being recovered.  Kenyatte Allen was able to take advantage finding Michael Berry (SO/Beavercreek, Ohio) for the 9-yard touchdown pass.  RMU went for two, as Kenyatte Allen took the QB keeper off the right side to cut the lead to 26-18 with 4:49 to go in the third quarter.

North Central would answer right back by scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 33-18 with 2:43 in the third quarter.  This turned out to be the final points the Cardinals scored on the night.   

The Eagles offense looked to answer right back by picking up a first down after a 19-yard run by Darius Burse, but failed to move the chains after that and ended up punting back to the Cardinals.  NCC quarterback was intercepted on third down by Mike Jones (JR/Florrisant, Mo.), setting up the RMU offense with great field position in the red zone at the NCC 10 yard line.  Darius Burse was given three straight carries from the 10 yard line, and eventually punched into the end zone on the third attempt from the two yard line to cut the lead to 33-25 with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter. 

The RMU defense came up strong forcing a Cardinal punt, giving the Eagles offense the ball with a chance to tie the game.  Kenyatte Allen found Keith Franklin (FR/Franklin Park, Ill.) for a 34-yard gain on 3rd and 11 picking up a huge first down.  Five plays later, Kenyatte Allen found Tristen Jeffries (SR/Sandusky, Ohio) streaking down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown catch to cut the lead to 33-31 with 3:49 left in the game.  The Eagles two-point conversion came up just short keeping the score 33-31. 

The defense was able to come up with another big stop forcing NCC to punt with 2:40 to go in the game.  On the first play, Kenyatte Allen was able to connect with Keith Franklin for another big 35-yard gain down to the NCC 35 yard line.  The Cardinals came up with a big sack on third down forcing a 4th and 16.  Kenyatte Allen threw a deep pass intended for Antwan Morrison (SR/Maywood, Ill.) that came up empty to end the game.  RMU's furious comeback came up just short falling 33-31 to North Central. 

Keyon Lansdown (JR/Chicago, Ill.) and Philip Hassel led the defense with a team-high 8 tackles, Kenny Kirkland (SO/Minooka, Ill.) had 6 tackles and a sack on the night.  Scott Kresal (SR/Mokena, Ill.) was also able to get to the quarterback with a sack.  Dallis Flowers (JR/Oak Park, Ill.) had three pass breakups.  Offensively Kenyatte Allen finished the day 16-31 for 208 yards and 2 TD's while rushing for 59 yards on 10 carries.  Darius Burse rushed for 129 yards and 2 TD's on 22 carries.  Tristen Jeffries led the receivers with 7 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, while Keith Franklin had 2 catches for 69 yards. Michael Berry hauled in 2 catches for 24 yards and a touchdown.

The Eagles will be back in action on Saturday September 9th at #5 Marian University (Ind.) in Indianapolis, Ind. Kickoff is set for Noon and fans can listen to the game live on the Eagles Sports Network.