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Duquesne’s Defense Dominates, Shuts Out Wagner 17-0

Duquesne’s Defense Dominates, Shuts Out Wagner 17-0

Duquesne’s defense needed little help from its offense Sunday afternoon, as the Dukes held the Wagner Seahawks scoreless, capturing a 17-0 road win to start the 2020-21 season 2-0. It was a milestone win for head coach Jerry Schmitt, as he is now the ninth active FCS coach with 100 wins at his current program.

Schmitt said that what the milestone really means is that he’s been fortunate enough to have a lot of good players and coaches supporting him for many years.

The Dukes held the Seahawks to just 136 yards of total offense, and graduate transfer running back Garrett Owens was the game’s lone touchdown scorer, taking it in twice on the ground. Owens added 89 yards on 20 carries. Sophomore running back Ky’ren Cunningham got into the action as well. The 245-pound bruiser had 59 yards on just six carries, including a 48-yard run down to the Wagner 3-yard line for the game’s longest play.

It was an up and down day in the passing game for the Dukes, as sophomore quarterback Joe Mischler was 19-of-27 passing on the day with 174 yards, but threw an interception, fumbled twice, and was sacked five times. Junior wide receiver Davie Henderson led the Dukes with seven catches for 64 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, senior cornerback Leandro Debrito and sophomore linebacker Anthony Dellovade each tallied seven tackles. Duquesne recorded six tackles for loss, including two from senior safety Spencer DeMedal.

“I really give (the defense) a ton of credit,” Schmitt said, “because they were doing a really solid job and we hit a couple times there where we were in their territory and didn’t come away with points, and sometimes that can be frustrating. But they kept positive and stuck with the whole team attitude, play the next play, don’t worry about what just happened. So, I give them a ton of credit for that kind of mental resolve that they had throughout the football game, and I’m happy for them that they got a shutout.”

This was the first game of Wagner’s season, as their match up with Merrimack on March 7 was postponed due to a positive COVID test within the Seahawks. The four-game 2020-21 season is already a make-up for the season postponed last fall.

The first half was a defensive struggle as Owens’ 7-yard touchdown run on the Dukes’ first possession was the only score.

Duquesne looked poised to score again right before the half, but Mischler threw a red zone interception to Wagner’s senior defensive back Ahmad Lyons.

Owens scored again from 3 yards out on the first drive of the second half to give Duquesne a two-touchdown lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Wagner mishandled the weird bounce and Duquesne recovered, which led to a field goal that wrapped up the scoring.

“What was really important for us was that this was the first away game and an overnight travel game,” Schmitt said. “The first one of the season is always a concern, but with the protocols, it was certainly different. For our kids to put that all aside and go on the field and just play a good solid 60 minutes of football was what’s important for us to do going into this back half. I was impressed with our players.”

Duquesne looks to improve to 3-0 when they host Long Island University on March 21 at Rooney Field.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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