October 8, 2011
Duquesne always seems to be able to throw the ball. Patterson, Dixon, Rombaugh, Loebig, Zimmerman, Loya, Bocan... you can almost draw a timeline of talent back to 1969 and even further back through Ernie Hefferle the Orange Bowl hero to the Chief, Art Rooney who was a gifted athlete of the 1920s teams. Prior to that the Dukes probably ran a single wing back into the 1800's but I'm sure the Dukes found a way to chuck that rounded ball too. It seems that Duquesne has been able to live well off the pass and die when they could not.
No matter how many times we play the Albany Great Danes, I think back to the first time the Dukes played the "Dames". It was the last game of the 2001 Season in the ECAC Bowl. Better known by Duquesne Fans as the "Slush Bowl", the Dukes' perfect season came to a slushy, blustery and frozen 24-0 end.
The Dukes went into the game with a 1-AA National Ranking and a real shot at being the first team from the "Mid-Majors" to make the NCAA 1-AA Playoffs. Their defense was more than respectable but their offense had been unstoppable. Unstoppable, except for when it became almost impossible to throw the ball through the high winds to receivers who became mortal under the frozen conditions. The one flaw that the 2002 team had was that it was geared only to a real high octane passing offense led by Neil Loebig.
Unfortunately for the Dukes, the one player who could have made a difference in the slush to balance out the passing game, Josh Rue, was declared ineligible just prior to the season. Josh was to be the featured back; a hard runner talented enough to make the roster of the Arizona Cardinals and still be playing professionally with the Pittsburgh Power. Rue carried the ball just 122 times for 916 yards and 12 TDs. His 7.51 yards per carry average was just shy of the NCAA Division I-AA record of 7.52 set by Adrian Peterson of Georgia Southern in 1998. Without Rue and unable to pass, the Dukes exposed their Achilles heal.
This year, the Great Danes probably have a better team than their 2002 edition, but then again so do the Dukes.
Prediction: Larry McCoy, now being mentioned seriously for the Walter Payton Trophy for being the best back in the FCS will provide the balance that the 2002 team didn't have to beat the Great Danes. He may be the best back the Dukes have had since... perhaps even better. Dukes over Danes 27-21.
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