Duquesne needed to bring their best effort of the season to knock of conference rival Sacred Heart, who entered the game in first place of the NEC. Duquesne had the chance to take over first place, clinch at least a share of the title and send their seniors off with a home win with a strong effort. They put that effort in, from kick off to the final snap, winning 28-24.
The Duquesne effort started quite literally on the opening kick off. Jassir Jordan took the kick, burst to the left and navigated his way down to the Sacred Heart six yard line. Three plays later saw the Dukes leading 7-0. They held that lead firm.
The defense knew they were in a tough spot against an offense that led the conference in yards. With so many players who can beat you on the ground, the Dukes needed gap discipline to slow down the attack. After the first play went for a first down, the Dukes got a stuff and forced a punt, and marched right down the field to take a 14-0 lead.
Duquesne sat on the lead for a bit before a 71 yard touchdown run by Sacred Heart cut into the lead. However, the Dukes responded right after the Sacred Heart touchdown with a five play, 57 yard scoring drive capped off by a deep Daniel Parr pass to Kellon Taylor. The response gave Duquesne a 21-7 lead heading into the half.
Duquesne has been known to start slow and put teams away late. The exact opposite occurred on Saturday. Sacred Heart marched right down the field on their first second half drive to cut the lead to 21-14. Duquesne answered immediately riding A.J. Hines to take a 28-14 lead.
However, Sacred Heart kept coming in the second half. Another quick score, all of it coming on the ground cut the lead back to 28-21.
While Duquesne did respond again, Daniel Parr was sacked in the red zone and forced a longer field goal than expected. The kick missed and Sacred Heart established momentum for the first time.
While they drove right down the field, they were held out of the end zone and cut the lead to 28-24. Unfortunately, more red zone issues followed for the Dukes. Duquesne drove deep into Sacred Heart territory but saw another missed field goal attempt, this one coming from a block.
While the Duquesne offense got them the early lead, the Duquesne defense got them the close. Up 28-24, the Dukes got a stuff on fourth down to put the game away. The win puts Duquesne at 4-1 in the NEC, which clinches at least a share of the conference.
Next week, they head to Central Connecticut State for a chance to win the conference outright.