Duquesne opened up their conference schedule on homecoming, in a game that featured a lengthy weather delay and over four lead changes. All of that was tertiary to the fact that the Dukes were playing in their first game since teammate Marquis “Jaylen” Brown passed away earlier in the week.
There was a serious question as to whether or not the Dukes would even suit up for this game as they coped with the loss of not only a teammate but a friend. However, the team got together and decided that it would be best to honor the life of Brown by suiting up and playing for him.
The Dukes did an admirable job in honoring his life before the game. Kellon Taylor, who went to high school with Brown before having Brown join him with the Dukes, wore the no. 40 to honor Brown in this game.
As the Dukes were introduced before the game, the team linked arms and walked out together.
Defensive lineman Kraig Hill, another high school teammate joined Taylor as the two honorary captains. The two held up Brown’s white No. 40 jersey as the team marched together out onto the field.
Hill and Taylor continued to hold the jersey as the team’s honorary captains, joining offensive lineman Matt Fitzpatrick to walk out for the coin flip. As the three marched out together with Brown’s jersey held high, many Dukes players took to a knee to reflect at that moment.
After the coin toss, the three walked back to join their team in a moment of silence. Players linked arms down the sideline while others stood together in a circle holding hands. Taylor wore the No. 40 throughout the game. Taylor had a career-high five receptions in the first half of the game and finished with eight. He was certainly playing with an extra motivation and ended up putting in an inspired performance to remember a lost friend.
On the field, momentum started in the Dukes direction. After surrendering a couple of first downs, Duquesne stuffed Bryant on fourth down, setting up their first scoring drive of game, capped off by a Daniel Parr touchdown pass to Stew Allen.
Bryant bounced back and used a 51-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7. From there, the elements began to take over. The sky opened up and we saw a series of plays that featured two turnovers and a three and out.
This put Duquesne in good field position as they scored to take a 13-7 lead. However, another fumble by the Dukes gave Bryant a 14-13 lead before a lightning delay stopped the game.
Coming back from the weather delay, Nehari Crawford put it on him to put the team back in the game. Crawford caught a 32-yard pass to flip field position before an interception ended the drive.
However, two drives later it was a 40-yard haul from Crawford that set up an easy touchdown to give the Dukes a 20-14 lead. Bryant responded with a 24-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
That is where Duquesne struggled to get anything going. Trailing by one, the Dukes punted on back to back drives. Bryant maneuvered a long drive after the second punt to give Duquesne just two minutes to score, down by one.
Duquesne went four and out, sealing the 21-20 loss. In an emotional day that featured a roller coaster of a game, it is no doubt a crushing defeat for the Dukes. They will look to bounce back from their first FCS loss next week against Robert Morris.
-Turnovers were the story of the game. The Dukes turned the ball over four times and also turned the ball over on downs on the second possession of the game. These were not just turnovers, they were devastating blows. A.J. Hines fumbled once on the one-yard line, costing his team a touchdown. He fumbled again, and Bryant scooped up the ball and scored. Those two plays took seven off of the Dukes score and gave it right to Bryant.
Daniel Parr also threw an interception in the red zone and was sacked for a fumble in the red zone. Chance after chance was wasted by the Dukes in a game where Duquesne lost by one possession.
-P.J. Fulmore made his home debut as the Dukes backup running back. Fulmore was injured in the season opener against UMass and came back to play Hawaii last week. However, for the first time at Arthur J. Rooney field, the fans were able to see the one-two punch of Hines and Fulmore. Fulmore had a season high in rushing attempts, but did not produce anything. Still, expect him to continue to get worked into the offense.
-LeAndro DeBrito saw his most work on defense of the season. DeBrito likely earned a bigger role with an inspired performance to keep his team in the game. DeBrito had seven tackles and two pass breakups, the best performance of his season. On a crucial fourth down with Bryant in the red zone, DeBrito made a great stick in run defense to shut the drive down.