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Joe Mischler’s 3 TDs Lead Duquesne to Season-Opening Win over Sacred Heart, 30-27

Images by Jared Todhunter

Joe Mischler’s 3 TDs Lead Duquesne to Season-Opening Win over Sacred Heart, 30-27

PITTSBURGH — Sophomore quarterback Joe Mischler threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in his first game as Duquesne’s starting quarterback to lead the Dukes to a 30-27 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers in the opening game of the 2020-21 season at Rooney Field Sunday afternoon.

Mischler, an Erie, Pa. native and Cathedral Prep alum that transferred to Duquesne from Ohio following the 2019 season, finished the day 18-of-26 passing with 231 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He added eight rushes for 63 yards and a score on the ground.

His performance was just part of a big day for incoming Duquesne transfers. Graduate transfer running back Garrett Owens, from Mercyhurst and senior wide receiver Cyrus Holder, from Saint Francis, each made their debut for the Dukes. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Owens had 105 yards on 26 carries to go with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Holder tallied three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

“We just had a really solid gameplan today,” Mischler said. “We came in confident and comfortable with it and it’s just a matter of trusting your guys and I think before the game we all just kinda looked at each other and knew we were in a good spot.”

The Dukes secured the victory despite a strong day from Sacred Heart running back Julius Chestnut, who scored four total touchdowns. Chestnut had 168 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts and two catches for 41 yards, both finding the endzone.

Sacred Heart couldn’t overcome costly mistakes such as two turnovers on downs and an interception, all in Duquesne territory, and two missed extra points.

The game was the first for Duquesne since Nov. 23, 2019, after the fall Northeast Conference slate was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The victory over the Pioneers is the first of four scheduled contests this spring.

“We really needed this thing after all that work from being 15 months away and going through everything,” head coach Schmitt said. “I’m proud of the guys. I’m happy for the team. I’m happy for the staff. It wasn’t a pretty win but we’ll take ’em any way we can up here on Rooney Field.”

Mischler, who played in the three games and completed just one pass for 23 yards in his freshman season at Ohio, made a strong first impression in his Duquesne debut. Mischler found the 6-foot-4 Holder for a 32-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the game.

After a slow first quarter, the Sacred Heart offesnse finally answered as Chestnut ran one in from 3 yards out. Chestnut was complimented in the run game by Sacred Heart’s sophomore quarterback Marquez McCray. McCray had 58 yards on the ground, and provided enough of a threat in the option to further Chestnut’s skill.

With the score 7-6, Mischler kept it on an option of his own and scored on a 34-yard run midway through the second quarter. The Dukes’ Brian Bruzdewicz (Peters Township) kicked a field goal on the next possession to increase the lead to double digits.

However, Chestnut promptly answered with a 58-yard touchdown run on the second play of the drive. Duquesne got a field goal and a Mischler touchdown pass to Owens in the thrid quarter to make the lead 27-12.

Chestnut caught two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one with 15 seconds remaining, but was unable to erase the deficit.

Duquesne will continue the spring season next Sunday at noon on the road against Wagner.

PHOTO GALLERY

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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