Duquesne had a pretty simple offensive recipe on Saturday against Dayton: get the ball to Nehari Crawford.
They did just that, as Crawford hauled in 11 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns — all career highs for the star wideout — on the way to a 31-26 Duquesne victory.
It was apparent that it was going to be a big day for Crawford from the first snap of the game. Crawford got immediate separation off of the line of scrimmage and made an impressive off balance catch for 47 yards. That was not even close to his biggest catch of the game, though.
Crawford also hauled in an 80-yard touchdown when Daniel Parr dropped a pass right in between the safety and cornerback in zone. Crawford caught the pass in stride and burst up field past the safety for a touchdown that featured about 50 yards after the catch. He added receptions of 22 and 28 yards, as well.
After the catch, in the air, before the pass, Nehari Crawford was creating separation in every way imaginable and Dayton had no answer.
BANGED UP HINES
The Dukes were using a lot of motion, and the respect demanded by Crawford to open some things up on the ground early into the game. A.J. Hines ripped off a 27 yarder cutting back a stretch run and went into the half with 61 yards on 12 carries.
Unfortunately, a hard hit in the two minute drill had him call for his backup to repalce him. Hines did not take a single snap in the second half as the Dukes wore down the Flyers.
This is now two out of three weeks where Hines has had a first half issue cause him to be limited or shut down in the second half. For the second time in three weeks the Dukes running game began to get ineffective the second that Hines left the game. Ky’ren Cunningham averaged just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground and the Dukes failed to put Dayton away late, allowing a comeback into the final minutes.
SECOND HALF ‘D’ LACKING
The Dukes faced redshirt freshman Jack Cook in his second career start at quarterback. The Dukes mixed a lot of personnel up and got to the young quarterback early. He was 6-13 for 57 yards to start the game.
However, the quarterback got comfortable and got hot into the second half. He went 11-15 from there for 172 yards to lead a second half comeback that came just one incompletion short. On fourth down, Cook threw a jump ball to the end zone, but Daquan Worley made a great play on the ball to end Cooks hot second half.
What makes the win even more impressive was the average starting field position of the Dukes. Dayton was an excellent special teams group, and we knew that coming into the game. However, it is on full display when watching live.
Kick returns, punt returns and a punter who has not only a leg but pin point placement gave the Dukes a rough go from the start. On average, the Dukes were pinned at their own 16 yard line. Dayton started their drives at the 41 yard line. The huge advantage in field position called for the splash plays from Crawford in the air, solidifying his big day.