Morgantown, W. Va — The Duquesne Football Team came into Morgantown and played tough for the first quarter and part of the second before West Virginia pulled away 56-17 Saturday night at Milan Puskar Stadium.
For Duquesne (1-1) junior quarterback Darius Perrantes threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns but also recorded two interceptions. Wide receiver Tedy Afful had 83 yards and his first Duquesne touchdown. Redshirt sophomore defensive back Antonio Epps set a career high with 10 tackles.
“Never happy with a loss, but I’m proud of our young men,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said. “The way they played and handled themselves. After that (delay) we didn’t play as good as we could have. We’ll go to work on that. We knew what we were up against and there were a number of things that would be difficult for us to stop from West Virginia but there were still some things we could have done better after that break and that’s what we always try to do.”
Duquesne initially went three-and-out in its first drive as quarterback Perrantes overthrew Afful, but the Dukes benefitted from WVU’s Jacolby Spells misplaying the punt, allowing the visitors to recover.
Following a couple of positive rushes from Taj Butts which moved the chains, Perrantes connected with DJ Powell from 38 yards out for a Duquesne touchdown. This was Powell’s third touchdown of the season.
“For us coming into this game there obviously was going to be a lot of chatter with an FCS school playing an FBS school,” said Epps. “We hear it, but we tune that out, we knew to come in and compete with them and we showed that in the first quarter.”
WVU went to a quick offense and moved the chains once but when quarterback Garrett Greene’s pass to an open Cortez Braham, the ball was given back to Duquesne.
After Duquesne came up empty, its defense twice forced the Mountaineers into third down situations, first converting with a six-yard rush and then when Jaylen Anderson found open space, established an angle, broke a tackle and went 13 yards.
Two plays later, WVU found the end zone when Greene found Hudson Clement from 14 yards out, tying the contest.
Duquesne began to find some connection with Joey Isabella and Afful each converting third-and-long plays, but when Perrantes went deep for Powell once again, he was intercepted by Beanie Bishop Jr.
The ensuing WVU drive started on the Dukes six-yard line and the Mountaineers were about to have a third and long, but Duquesne was called for a face mask penalty extending the drive.
The penalty was a tough one for Duquesne to take and Schmitt credited the opponent’s athleticism for making it possible and the Dukes defender made a split-second decision and instead made contact with the helmet.
WVU drove into the second quarter where it took two plays for Anderson to run it in and create separation on the scoreboard.
Later on in the second quarter, Duquesne drove the football again using the deep ball with Powell corralling a 34-yard pass and Keshawn Brown making a 22-yard grab.
Duquesne had a new touchdown called back due to holding and instead, Brian Bruzdewicz converted a 39-yard field goal.
“The OPI you watch the replay and tell me,” opined Schmitt. “I think those guys do a great job, but I see that play hundreds of times through college and through all football. We’ve got to do it better so we don’t get called for that.”
The game was then stopped by a 1-hour 54-minute weather delay that Duquesne refused to make excuses over but did acknowledge saw play drop off a bit upon returning to action.
“Our guys were excited, and you just have to be careful,” Schmitt revealed. “It happened at Florida State last year, but it was before the game started so it was a little different. In my career I haven’t had too many of them and now it’s something I have to study and maybe do better.”
Coming out of the stoppage WVU needed four plays before Clement again had multiple steps on a Dukes defender and went 70 yards for a score.
After Duquesne went three and out, Clemen scored his third touchdown of the evening, this time from 46 yards out.
Duquesne had become pass happy just prior to the delay as the team’s two-pronged rushing attack was held in check but returning to the ground did not prove successful as the Dukes were held scoreless for the remainder of the half.
WVU went to backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol in the second half, ending Greene’s night with 240 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Jahiem White would score in the third quarter from 18 yards out on a seven-play, 67-yard drive.
Duquesne would respond when Perrantes found Afful on a 45-yard connection and on the very next play, the pair connected for a touchdown from 16 yards out. The grab was Afful’s first as a Duke.
According to Perrantes, the several deep balls he threw were certainly intentional.
“That was a big point that we went through all week, that was probably their weakest links on their team, but they’re a great team,” he said.
The Mountaineers scored twice in the fourth quarter, once when Marchiol rushed from the one-yard line and concluded when DJ Oliver punched it in from five yards out.
All told, the Duquesne players seemed pleased with its overall performance.
“Everyone’s looking at a blowout and not expecting the FCS team to compete,” Epps reflected. “That first quarter, first half we showed a lot of people what Duquesne can really do. A lot of people will say Duquesne is not a real school, but we came out here against a Big XII team and it showed. FCS, Duquesne we can really play football here.”
Duquesne will continue its four-game road trip next Saturday at Coastal Carolina, a contest set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.