Darius Perrantes threw four touchdowns passes and the Duquesne defense recorded four interceptions as the Dukes opened NEC play with a 37-14 win at Merrimack.
Duquesne (3-1, 1-0), fell into an early seven-point hole, but Darius Perrantes hit Cyrus Holder for a 3-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to even the score.
That’s when the Duquesne defense took over.
Jeremiah Josephs (Gateway) intercepted Merrimack quarterback Elliott Westin and returned it all the way to Warriors’ 5-yard line. Running back Billy Lucas plunged in on the next play to give the Dukes the lead, one they would not relinquish.
On the second Merrimack play of the ensuing possession, Duquesne again picked off Westin, this time it was senior defensive back Leandro DeBrito. The Duquesne offense couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity, but the defense got the ball right back.
After a fourth-down stop gave Merrimack possession once again, Josephs intercepted Westin for a third time and once again had a big return, taking the ball 62 yards to the Warriors 10-yard line. That resulted in a Brian Bruzdewicz field goal.
Merrimack drove across a second touchdown in the second quarter to close the gap to three points, but Perrantes responded with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Wykeen Gill to make it 23-14 visitors.
After a three-and-out, Perrantes hit Owens for a 33-yard score. Those two connected one again in the fourth quarter for a 12-yard scoring strike.
Perrantes finished 12 of 20 for 126 yards and the four scores, with Owens as his top target. Owens hauled in five passes for 83 yards and two scores.
On the ground, Lucas rushed 20 times for 92 yards and a touchdown and Owens had 15 carries for 47 yards.
Josephs added two passes defended, five tackles and a tackle for loss to his two interceptions. Jahan Worth led the Duquesne defense with seven tackles and also had a tackle for loss, pass breakup and interception.
The win was the first for Duquesne against Merrimack, which joined the NEC in 2019 after making the transition from Division II to Division I. The teams did not play in 2019, as Merrimack played just a four-game league schedule, and also did not meet in the abbreviated 2020-21 spring season. The Warriors are 1-6 against NEC opponents since joining the conference.
Duquesne is one of four teams tied at 1-0 to start the league season. The Dukes will continue conference play next week when they host Bryant at Rooney Field. That game has a noon kickoff.