The first half could not have gone worse for the Dukes.
Already facing long odds against Big 12 member TCU, Duquesne lost quarterback Joe Mischler to a knee injury in the first quarter, and the TCU offense raced up and down the field, jumping out to a 35-point lead at the break.
The second half, shortened six minutes by mutual agreement of the teams, went better, as the Dukes staved off further embarrassment in what became a 45-3 loss to the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.
Mischler went down with a right knee injury with the Dukes trailing 21-0 late in the first quarter.
“I don’t have anything official,” head coach Jerry Schmitt said after the game. “But it is a knee. You’re always concerned with that. … It was a rollout and I knew he got it clean. I couldn’t see from my side what happened after he released the ball.”
Mischler walked off under his own power and was later seen on the sideline in crutches. He was replaced by sophomore Darius Perrantes, a Rhode Island transfer that last played with the Rams in 2019. Perrantes completed 3 of 9 passes for 76 yards in the game.
With Mischler and several other Duquesne players injured in the first half, the team agreed to play the second half with 12 minute quarters.
“We’re really, really thin in our depth,” Schmitt said. “I was personally concerned because at our level … our backup guys are walk-on Division III-type players.”
Duquesne’s play improved in the second half, playing against mostly the TCU second team. The squads played a level third period, and the Frogs got the only score of the fourth quarter. Brian Bruzdewicz’s 26-yard field goal in the third quarter provided all of Duquesne’s points. That was set up by a 37-yard completion from Perrantes to Cyrus Holder.
Despite the lopsided score and the injury to Mischler, Schmitt said the trip to Fort Worth provided his team a solid experience.
“We stretched ourselves, obviously, and our kids got to see that challenge,” Schmitt said. “What we try to do, both teams, is come out healthy and learn from it and move forward. I didn’t know. We’ve played some FBS in the past, and we have some down the road here. It’s a great experience.”
The Dukes will continue with higher-level competition, as they’ll visit Ohio next week.