Missed Chances Spoil Season Opener for TU Football
CHICAGO – Taylor had little trouble moving the ball in its 2019 season opener at Robert Morris on Saturday afternoon but the Trojans failed to convert on a host of opportunities and fell by a 31-14 margin.
TU picked up 25 first downs in the contest and rattled off 391 total yards of offense, while running 21 more plays on offense than the hosts but a pair of turnovers, combined with two missed field goals led to just one red zone score in five trips inside the RMU 20-yard line.
The Trojans started fast, moving 54 yards on eight plays on their first drive only to come away empty after fumbling the ball away on the 19-yard line. TU again went 61 yards on 14 plays on its second possession, advancing to the 18-yard line before missing a field goal.
Taylor finally broke through after TJ Swore intercepted a pass and ran it back 30 yards to the RMU three-yard line. Spencer Crisp punched it in two plays later for TU’s first touchdown of its 72nd season to tie score at 7-7.
TU found pay dirt again on the final play of the half, when Zac Saltzgaber’s 34-yard heave at the horn was hauled in by Evan Guckenberger to send the Trojans to the break gridlocked at 14-14.
Taylor could not carry that momentum into the second half, as its first drive of the third quarter ended with an interception deep into Robert Morris territory and the Eagles scored on their ensuing possession to reclaim the 21-14 lead.
RMU would tack on a field goal late in the third and sealed the game with a late touchdown to hand the Trojans a season-opening, 31-14, defeat.
Swore’s second-quarter pick was part of a busy afternoon for the senior linebacker, who finished with a team-leading eight tackles to go with one sack, two hits for lost yardage and the interception.
Mark Baker also added eight tackles to post a new career-high and Jordan Jackson posted seven hits and one sack. Sam Bartu also registered a sack, as the TU defense had three sacks and nine tackles for lost yardage in the contest.
Guckenberger highlighted the offense with eight catches for 111 yards and one score, surpassing his previous career totals with the performance. Trey Burdine netted 17.3 yards per catch over three receptions and Spencer Crisp rushed for 73 yards and a score, while catching four passes.
Zac Saltzgaber completed 22 passes from his quarterback position, piling up a career-best 244 yards through the air and also ran 11 times for 48 yards.
Taylor (0-1) will return to action on September 14 when it heads to Butler for a 6:00 pm start in Indianapolis. TU’s 2019 home opener is slated for September 21 against Missouri Baptist.