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Duquesne Football

Duquesne Football Checked Off All Boxes In Victory



By no means was Duquesne Football’s season-opening 49-7 victory this past Saturday against Edinboro flawless, but the triumph likely gave the Dukes plenty of reason to be optimistic moving forward.

It was a home opener that was well attended, and the fans were with the team for the duration of the contest, including a first quarter that led coach Jerry Schmitt to ask what time it was at halftime.

Duquesne rolled with the punches, playing with each other and displaying a clear teamwork that was not as present when injuries piled up a season ago.

“We prepared for this moment from the first day of camp, we knew it was coming,” redshirt sophomore defensive back Ayden Garnes said. “I feel like we were prepared two weeks ago and we’re going to keep building from this opportunity. It was a good team win.”

Garnes’s pick six on the second play of the game set the tone for the team and in his opinion put everybody on notice.

After building these last couple of seasons, Duquesne’s defense is a clear strength of this team to the point, that Zeke M. Daure, a graduate student who has been part of the program since 2019, believes this is the deepest defense he has been a part of.

Daure had a second-half interception, one of five turnovers forced by an aggressive Dukes defense.

Whether it was Ty Howard getting to the quarterback, Kevin Kurzinger and Gianni Russo forcing fumbles, Ryan Lopez’s tenacity for the ball or Tim Lowery providing a boost with an interception after coming off a season-ending injury, the defense was a constant for Duquesne where an aggressive effort was contagious.

“Their speed and strength were very apparent,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said of the defensive effort. “They played together. It’s something we thought we had and have been building for a couple of years and everybody’s healthy which is critical for that defense. Last year through the back half of the season a lot of those guys you see out here now weren’t with us and you can see they’re talented guys playing fast and together.” 

Coming into the game, Duquesne’s largest unknowns came with both the offensive line and wide receiving group.

Schmitt conceded that the offensive line is one of the positions where his Dukes are not necessarily as deep at.

Even so, the line surrendered two sacks and though there were multiple procedural penalties, it was a unit that held together as players were subbed in to participate and see time.

The receiving core is without its top three players from a season ago, but DJ Powell, a Bethune Cookman transfer showcased his ability with two touchdown catches and 57 yards.

It was clear that he established a connection with quarterback Darius Perrantes that could prove crucial as the season continues.

Not to be outdone, Keshawn Brown had two grabs for 72 yards. Stony Brook transfer Tedy Afful had a look at wide receiver and also was the punt returner in Saturday’s game.

Preseason All-NEC selection Joey Isabella was targeted in the red zone and had a step in the red zone but was unable to connect. After a season-ending injury and less action in training camp, his impact is expected to be seen as the season continues.

Duquesne also got to get looks at Alex Gochis, Jermaine Johnson and Jaelen Carson.

“I think it’s great that we got a lot of snaps for a lot of different receivers because we’re right now deep and very competitive,” stated Schmitt. “That position they all want the football and want in the game so if we stay healthy it will be tough to manage all of that. It’s a good problem to have.” 

Powell agreed with this statement explaining that having this depth will allow for Duquesne to rotate.

Perrantes was exactly as advertised in his first game with three total touchdowns, two through the air, while playing one half.

In that time, he was sacked one and danced around the pocket multiple times before finding an open receiver, something Schmitt said he has been known to do.

Schmitt was also a fan of his overall performance as he took more control and leadership of the team. As he continues to be under center, there will be more time in film and practice on finding and being more precise with his reads.

The team will now prepare to face a West Virginia opponent that is coming off a loss to #7 Penn State, in what will be the Mountaineers home opener.

Given the roughly 90-minute drive, it will be an enticing game for Duquesne fans to attend. The Dukes have faced high-profile teams before and on Sept. 11, 2021 won 28-26 at Ohio, making them the first team from NEC to beat an FBS team.

The stage will be a larger one but one which the team is clearly excited for come Saturday at 6 p.m.

“We’re ready to go,” promised Garnes. “We’ll see what they run, see what they like to do and we’re going to be ready by Saturday at 6 p.m.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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