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Duquesne Football

Duquesne Dominates CCSU To Take Top NEC Spot



Photo credit: Duquesne Athletics/Fred Vuich

A rain, heavy at times was the latest wrinkle in a road-tested Duquesne Football Team, which was returning home for the first time since Labor Day weekend, but not even Mother Nature could deter the Dukes in a 44-20 triumph over Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field.

“We were playing at a level where we were playing with confidence,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said. “Even when things went bad, they just played that next play with focus. I’m impressed by the way we came off the road, long trips, dialed in and focused on every play throughout this day.”

Duquesne (3-3/2-0 NEC) had two players achieve career highs with redshirt sophomore Taj Butts achieving personal bests with his 118 yards and three total touchdowns.

“I’m a big guy on putting the scene of the crime in your mind,” determined Butts. “Leading up to the game I’m thinking about the long runs, getting the first down. I prepare myself mentally and I did what I did on the field, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday and Monday this week.”

Butts joined redshirt sophomore JaMario Clements as both running backs surpassed the 100-yard mark, the first time that has happened for the Dukes since Nov. 20, 2021.

Photo credit: Duquesne Athletics/Fred Vuich

Junior wide receiver Tedy Afful pulled down 135 yards, besting the 108 he had last year against Fordham.

“So happy for him because he works very hard,” Schmitt remarked. “Took some time to get the system down. We ask those guys to play a lot of different positions as receivers. We move and motion them and the better you know that the better you can play and help our team. He’s been working through that the first couple of weeks and he’s starting to play with real confidence. It’s paying off the work that he does.”

Not to be outdone, junior quarterback Darius Perrantes passed for 265 yards, a season high and matched a season best with three touchdowns.

This was a contest where CCSU (2-4/0-2 NEC) came in averaging 246.2 rushing yards and in its previous game against Delaware State rushed for 498 rushing yards.

Saturday, the Blue Devils were contained to 74 rushing yards.

“They have a really good running game,” graduate student safety Zeke Daure explained. “A big thing I’ve noticed this year compared to last year is we bend, but we don’t break. Last year we would break playing big running teams. They didn’t really gash us, so we’ll take that.”

Indeed Duquesne had 513 total yards compared to CCSU’s 201. Even further was that the Dukes grew in confidence as the game wore on and every big play saw energy spread from the sideline onto the field.

“They played team defense,” assessed Schmitt. “I give a lot of credit to the defensive staff for preparing our guys and our guys worked hard on it. They use multiple formations, motions, shifts and the RPO which is always hard to defend. I thought our guys did a really good job playing team defense, playing your gap and rallying to the football. It was quite impressive.”

CCSU got the ball first and its heralded ground game was stunted on three consecutive plays, as the Blue Devils had to surrender the football to the Dukes.

Perrantes immediately went to the deep ball, unsuccessfully connecting with DJ Powell. Despite the incompletion, it set the offense up to take future shots down the field.

On third down, the pair tried again. Though Perrantes under threw his graduate student, Powell made the necessary adjustment, leading to a 33-yard play.

As the Dukes continued to drive, a Perrantes pass to Afful was incomplete, but a pass interference penalty allowed the ball to be placed on the 2-yard line.

Butts made an immediate impact on his first snap as Duquesne called his number on a misdirection. This left the flat open, where Butts made a catch and turned his body for the first touchdown of this contest.

CCSU had the ball and drove down to Duquesne’s 20, determined to find an equalizer, but the momentum was thwarted when quarterback Matt Jenner fumbled the football. A Blue Devils lineman batted the ball and though they recovered the football, that 17-yard loss led to a field goal.

Duquesne’s attempt at a response was going to be short lived, but CCSU got in its own way with an offsides penalty, allowing the Dukes to have second life in the drive.

That second life would with Afful pulling down a 50-yard pass and then Butts pounded the ball in from 15 yards out.

This sequence only made the defense more aggressive as CCSU made a quarterback change, with Ricky Ortega under center. The Dukes charged Ortega multiple times as the Blue Devils came up empty as possession changed hands.

Duquesne went back on the attack with Afful pulling in grabs of 35 and 13 yards in succession for another Dukes score.

It was a 20-3 Duquesne advantage after 15 minutes.

The Dukes had an opportunity to stretch the lead as Perrantes who already successfully danced in the pocket earlier in the drive, did so again, but underthrew Keshawn Brown in the end zone as CCSU had its first takeaway.

With the rain reaching its peak, the Blue Devils got in their own way with a personal foul.

Duquesne nearly gave the ball right back for a second time as Butts fumbled, but the hosts were able to recover. Butts amended his mistake, unleashing a 58-yard run, his third score of the day.

CCSU would record its first touchdown of the game on a reserve flea flicker.

Duquesne made a final push as Perrantes found Brown deep again, but this was done by a holding penalty, keeping the score at 27-10 as the first half clock expired.

It was Duquesne’s possession to begin the third quarter and CCSU committed roughing the passer and pass interference penalties allowing the Dukes to drive.

Perrantes found Powell who made a juggling catch down to the one-yard line. The Dukes drive nearly stalled, but Powell had one-on-one coverage against a smaller defender and came down with the 50-50 ball stretching the lead to 34-10.

As the third quarter continued, CCSU converted a second field goal, this time from 32 yards out.

The frame concluded with Duquesne taking advantage of a Blue Devils targeting penalty as Clements punched the ball in from 26 yards out.

CCSU recorded a touchdown in the fourth quarter as Jenner called his own number for a 17-yard run. After that, Duquesne possessed the ball for much of the fourth quarter, culminating in a Brian Bruzdewicz field goal from 26 yards.

The 2-0 mark in NEC play has the Dukes in sole possession of first place.

Duquesne will return to Rooney Field for another NEC contest as Saint Francis visits for a 1 p.m. kickoff. The game can be viewed at NEC Front Row and also serves as the Dukes’ homecoming game.

“We all want to be the best and with all of us competing every day, that leads us to be the best,” Afful concluded. “That motivates us to be the best in the NEC.”


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Section 122
Section 122
1 month ago

The Dukes would beat the 2023 Pitt Panthers by 14.

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